The Montana State Bobcat ski team capped off the 2015 season by grabbing a seventh place finish at the NCAA National Championships in Lake Placid, New York. Leading the way for the Bobcat skiers was sophomore David Neuhauser. The Austria native finished sixth in the slalom with a time of 1:57.12, earning him second team All-America honors.
Also earning points for the Bobcats in the slalom were senior David Owsley placing 22nd and freshman Garrett Driller, who took 27th. For the women in the slalom, the Bobcats grabbed 13th, 16th and 21st places from freshmen Kari Hole and Benedicte Lyche, and senior Stephanie Irwin, respectively.
“For us to look at the teams we beat,” MSU alpine coach Kevin Francis said, “that’s a huge confidence boost and bodes well for the future. For the team, [the finish] means that they believe in themselves, and that’s not necessarily something we’ve had in the past as a program.”
On the Nordic side, the men were paced by senior Forrest Mahlen and junior Sawyer Kesselheim taking 25th and 26th and the women were led by junior Cambria McDermott, who grabbed 15th place. Additionally, Annie Liota placed 34th and Lina Hultin placed 39th for the Bobcats.
The Colorado Buffaloes took home the team title, its 20th team national title, edging out the University of Utah by seven points, 478 to 471. Montana State finished with 259 points and trailed Dartmouth, the sixth place team, by 16 points. However, the drop off from the top five to the second five is steep, with over 100 points separating the upper echelon.
“For us to take that next step, it’s going to require more resources such as early season training and more consistent early season training conditions,” Francis continued. “That said, our local ski areas are the most supportive I know of, and maybe even in the country. For recruiting, we have a young team — half of our team were freshmen and it shows potential recruits that they can have success right away.”
The young Bobcat squad will have a lot to build off of after the successful 2015 campaign. They return many key athletes, especially in the slalom. The Bobcats will look to take that next step forward as a program next season.
“Overall, [the athletes] are believing in themselves and the community is believing in them too. To see that support, that’s what we need to reach that next level,” Francis said.