Spartan skiers gear up for regionals

The Castleton State College men and women ski teams are packing their bags and waxing up their skis.
With another impressive season, both teams captured third place in overall standings for the Eastern Collegiate Ski Conference out of nine teams, and have locked up a trip to United States Collegiate Ski Association Eastern Regional Championships at Sugarloaf Mountain in Maine.
The top five colleges and universities from 13 different divisions qualified for the regional competition.
A journey to regionals will make it the ninth appearance for the Castleton men since 2003 and the 10th for the women.
The Castleton women have one second-place finish to their credit this season in regular-season meets while the Spartans men have a victory to their credit.
Spartans Co-Head Coach Chris Eder said both the women and men’s team would need to keep a few strategies in mind.
“The key thing is just having two solid runs each day we compete. For men it’s finishing what they start and for the women its being consistent both runs,” Eder said.
Eder also said the teams never give up and that’s what makes them unique from past teams he has coached.
“This team may not be the most talented that we’ve had, but they definitely have a lot of heart and they’ve been showing it,” Eder said.
The Spartan men’s top skier, junior Patrick Burke, ended the season in sixth place overall, recording nine top-10 finishes in 10 meets, which was enough to earn ECSC All-MacConnell honors.
Burke said regional’s will be a tough competition this year and realizes that each guy has to hold its own while providing decent finishes in order advance to the next level.
“Individual results won’t get our team to nationals. Finishing runs is the key,” Burke said.
Burke was not the only one to earn the All-MacConnell honor.
Freshman Matt Couture started the year off by completing his first ever collegiate slalom run in fifth place out of 80 opponents on Jan. 9, and since has harnessed three top-10 finishes and placing 10th overall for the season.
 Like the men, the Spartan women also had two All-MacConnell honors. Over the course of the year sophomore Simona Croccolo managed to amass a 10th-place finish overall and five top-10 finishes on the season.
Croccolo realizes that hard work is key and is the only way to succeed in regionals.
“I think as a team we need to work on putting two solid runs together. Normally we have a really good first run and not as good of a second run or vise versa,” Croccolo said.
 Senior Blaire Hooper ended her last regular season the right way. Along with teammate Croccolo, she also received All-MacConnell honors and landed in 12th place while also grasping six top-10 finishes. Last year regional’s was quite a success story for Castleton’s teams and this year they hope to make it even further.
 The men were able to tally a third-place finish in the giant slalmon and second in the slalmon for regional’s, which sent them on their way to nationals. There, they finished ninth in the giant slalmon and eighth for the slalmon.
The women were on their game last year and ranked higher in regionals and nationals than did the men, taking second in the giant slalmon and the slalmon. At nationals, the women were sixth in the giant slalmon and seventh in the slalmon.
“We all hope that we can perform as well as last year and place top three as a team in both the giant slalmon and the slalmon to finish top three overall to take us to nationals at Whiteface,” Croccolo said.
 Burke expects the same for the men as they enter regionals.
“I think we are capable of top three but am expecting at least top five and a trip to Lake Placid for nationals,” Burke said.