(PRESQUE ISLE, ME) -- Tracking down University of Maine-Presque Isle Nordic Skiing Coach Paul Stone between the months of November and February is like trying to find "Waldo" in a candy cane forest. The 3rd year coach of both the Owl men's and women's team also added "Interim Athletic Director" to his title last summer. So before he disappeared again under a mountain of paperwork or on top of a mountain of snow, he sat down to give an update on the progress of his teams so far this season.
What have some of the highlights been from the season thus far?
Eirik Fosnæs (So./Bærum, Norway) has had several top 20's (finishes) and Joey Bard (Jr./Woodland, ME) has been in the top 30 a few times. The men's team matched their program best 8th place finish in several events so far this year.
How has the team performed compared to your pre-season hopes and goals?
We have done pretty well so far but I think the men are capable of more. I think they could finish as high as 4th if everyone skis well on the same day. Many of the guys have been knocking on the door but have not broken through yet. Last year we didn't really get going till the last two weeks of the season and we are a bit ahead of that pace this year so I have high hopes for the weekend.
Who has shown the most improvement?
Dan Dermody (So./Cheshire, MA) was looking very good in the late fall early winter but so far that form hasn't carried into the collegiate season. Hilary Saucy (Fr./Harleysville, PA), Desiree Smith (Sr./Thomaston, ME), Natasha Smith (So./Turner, ME), and Ghaz Sailors (So./Santa Barbara, CA) have improved a great deal during the season as they gain more experience racing collegiately. Desiree Smith scored points for the team for the first time during the UVM Carnival which was awesome.
What are some goals you have for the team or individual members that you hope to achieve before the end of the season?
We hope to see at least one person qualify for nationals. Eirik is in the best position right now but Joey has been close. It will only take one good weekend to get himself in good position. I'd also like to see three guys in the top 30 in a race. On the women's side there are a couple with a shot at breaking into the top 50 and if that happens we could knock of St. Michael's College who we've been chasing all season.
What noteworthy events are coming up yet?
We have three collegiate events left. Middlebury Carnival this weekend on the NCAA Championships courses, the Eastern Intercollegiate Ski Association Championships hosted by Bates College the following weekend, and hopefully the NCAA Championships back at Middlebury two weeks later.