Spika Places 9th, Nails Down National Bid

Friday, Feb 22, 2008

Solidifying her grip on a national championship berth, Whitman sophomore Devon Spika placed ninth in the women's 5-kilometer freestyle as the Nordic portion of the NCAA West Regional Championships got underway Friday at Bohart Ranch near Bozeman, Mont.

"Devon had a great race," Whitman coach Calisa Schouweiler said. "I think it's safe to say that she has secured her spot at the national championships."

A year ago in her first season at Whitman, Spika qualified as the 10th women's seed from the Rocky Mountain Intercollegiate Ski Association (RMISA). Based on season-long results, RMISA will send 16 women to the 2008 NCAA national championships in early March. The regular season comes to a close on Saturday with classic races at Bohart Ranch.

"It's nice that Devon can go into the last regular season race without worrying about nationals," Schouweiler said.

Clocked in Friday's race at 15:39.02, Spika finished about 10 seconds out of the sixth spot. The University of Colorado's Maria Grevsgaard, a senior from Geilo, Norway, continued to dominate the women's field with a winning time of 14:56.25.

In the men's 10-kilometer freestyle on Friday, Whitman sophomore Warren McDermott cracked the top 30 for a third straight week, placing 29th in 30:46.20. Senior Loren Schmidt was close behind in 31st with a time of 31:03.13. Also racing for the Whitman men were senior Davis Taylor (37th, 31:43.86), senior Robert Marcotte (39th, 32:15.24), and sophomore Jack Straus (40th, 32:55.90).

Eloise Zimbelman, a first-year skier, had Whitman's next-best finish in the women's race. She placed 29th in 17:09.49, finishing one spot in front of sophomore teammate Adele Mery, who was clocked in 17:19.04. Rounding out the Whitman women's contingent were sophomore Liz Forbes (34th, 17:55.78) and first-year skier Paige Devlin (36th, 18:55.54).

In the women's team scoring, Whitman finished seventh among nine schools with 39 points, beating both the University of Alaska-Anchorage (30) and Western State (15). Colorado was first in the women's scoring with 81 points while the universities of Denver and Nevada-Reno tied for second place with 67 points apiece.

The Whitman men scored 28 points to finish eighth, just ahead of ninth-place Western State and its 16 points. Led by Kit Richmond, a senior from Red Deer, Canada, Colorado took first in team scoring with 80 points. The University of Utah men were second with 67 points, finishing one point in front of Denver.