WALLA WALLA, Wash. – Calisa Schouweiler, the Nordic ski coach at Whitman College, is doing some shuffling of the line-up cards this season.

   Calisa Schouweiler

Gone from the women’s squad are three of her top skiers from a year ago, including two-time national qualifier Devon Spika, and three graduated seniors who formed the base of the men’s team last winter.

On the positive side, junior Warren McDermott is back in the fold after serving as the top Missionary men’s skier in each of his first two seasons. And senior Lindsay Records returns after a one-year absence to lead a women’s team well stocked with young talent.

The Rocky Mountain Intercollegiate Ski Association (RMISA) kicks off its season with races Jan. 5, 7, 10 and 11 in the Anchorage, Alaska, area. Before classes resume on Tuesday, Jan. 20, Whitman skiers will compete in two more RMISA events on Jan. 16-17 in Aspen, Colo.

The RMISA season continues into February with each of the nine member schools trying to qualify as many as three men and three women for the NCAA championships in March. Whitman is the only NCAA Div. III school in the conference while the University of Alaska-Anchorage is the only Division II representative. The seven Division I schools in the conference are the universities of Colorado, Utah, Denver, Nevada-Reno, New Mexico and Wyoming, and Montana State.

RMISA, one of three NCAA ski conferences in the U.S, can send a total of 20 men and 16 women to the NCAA national championships, slated for March 12-14 in Newry, Maine.

Both Whitman teams also plan to compete in the U.S. Collegiate Ski Association’s national championships March 3-7 in Winter Park, Colo. “The two national championship events are often held the same weekend, but that isn’t the case this year,” Schouweiler says.  

............ Men’s Nordic Team ............

    Warren McDermott

Warren McDermott, a junior from Rochester, N.Y., probably has Whitman’s best shot at picking off an individual berth at the NCAA national championships.

“Warren finished 23rd in our region’s individual point standings last season, and we have 20 spots available at the NCAAs this season,” Schouweiler says. “So, he’s right there, knocking on the door. He has a chance.”

        Jack Strauss

McDermott missed the team’s fall workouts while spending a study-abroad semester in Botswana. “We hope that Warren was able to do as much ski-specific dryland training as possible while he was in Botswana,” Schouweiler says. “We’d like to see Warren crack into the top 25 at some of the races this season.” 

Two more juniors, Jack Strauss (New Canaan, Ct.) and Bailey Arend (Anchorage, Alaska), also return this winter.

Strauss competed in most of the RMISA events a year ago. “Jack has improved a lot and hasn’t been hampered as much by health issues,” Schouweiler says. “He was sick a lot last year, but so far this season he’s been nothing but healthy. He’s stayed on schedule with all of his fall workouts and is much farther ahead with his fitness level.”

       Bailey Arend

Arend raced a few events last season despite dealing with a chronic injury. “If we can keep Bailey healthy, he’s also going to have a much better season,” Schouweiler says.

       Tyler Abery

Freshman Tyler Abery (Apple Valley, Minn.), who rounds out the men’s roster, brings a fresh burst of talent. “Tyler was a strong high school skier, although he was competing at shorter distances,” Schouweiler says. “We’re excited to see what he can do as his first college races. He could be our second-best skier this year.”

Abery had good results in races sponsored by the Junior Olympics program, Schouweiler adds. “In terms of his technique, Tyler might be more sound than Warren, but then Warren has quite the aerobic engine,” she says. “At this point it’s hard to compare the two.”

With McDermott not on hand, Abery posted the top finish in a time trial at Whitman’s nine-day training camp in West Yellowstone during the Thanksgiving break. Abery won the short sprint in 3:18 while Arend (3:32) and Strauss (3:38) were next in line.

…………… Women’s Nordic Team ………….

     Lindsay Records
   Eloise Zimbelman

Schouweiler isn’t hazarding too many guesses as to what the pecking order might prove to be with her women’s team this season.

“It’s hard to say right now who our top one or two skiers might be, and it’s something that could fluctuate from race to race,” she says. “One thing I know is that Lindsay Records (Boulder, Colo.) is our captain and an incredible leader. She missed last season while studying off campus, but she’s back with fire in her eyes and ready for her senior season. She brings a lot of commitment and determination to our team.”

Other than the now departed Spika, sophomore Eloise Zimbelman (White Salmon, Wash.) was Whitman’s top performer in the women’s races last season. “Eloise has improved a lot in terms of her strength, fitness and technique,” Schouweiler says. “She was sick during our time trials at West Yellowstone, so it’s hard to gauge exactly where she stands to start the season.”

       Paige Devlin
     Kira Peterson

Also back for a second year of collegiate competition is sophomore Paige Devlin (Lake Placid, N.Y.), who has “improved dramatically over the past year,” Schouweiler says. “It’s realistic to think that both Eloise and Paige can move up five to 10 spots from where they were placing in our region a year ago.”

Two first-year skiers, Kira Peterson (Two Harbors, Minn.) and Angela Raso (Truckee, Calif.), round out the women’s travel squad this season. “Kira didn’t do any of the Junior Olympics races, but she was one of the top freestyle skiers in the Minnesota high school ranks,” Schouweiler says. “Angela comes from a strong Far West Ski Club, and her Junior Olympics results were similar to those of Eloise and Paige when they were still in high school.”

     Angela Raso

For the Whitman women, the West Yellowstone time trials turned in a mini-competition with Minnesota’s Saint Cloud State University, an NCAA Div. II squad that was holding a team camp at the same time. Missionary skiers swept the top five spots and Devlin tied for eighth.

“It was just a short sprint and Eloise was sick, but I was pleasantly surprised to see Kira finish first for us,” Schouweiler says. Peterson was first in 3:46 while Zimbelman and Raso tied for second in 3:48. Records and another Whitman junior, Liz Forbes (Burlington, Vt.), tied for fifth in 3:50. Devlin tied for eighth in 4:06.

Forbes, a member of Whitman’s traveling squad last winter, will miss the pending NCAA season while on foreign study in New Zealand.

The women’s roster also includes sophomore Roxanne Pierson (Wilson, Wyo.) and first-year Missionary Emily Hanscam (Anchorage, Alaska), both of whom will compete in local races as part of Whitman’s development team.

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CONTACT: Dave Holden
Sports Information Director
Whitman College, Walla Walla, Wash.
holden@whitman.edu; holden@whitman.edu