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Friday, Jun 2, 2023

Winter sports: Season previews

Crisp air and bare trees can only signal one thing: the dawn of the winter sports season. As fall sports wind down at Middlebury, it’s time to turn our attention to the 14 varsity winter sports teams that are set to compete over the next few months. Here are previews for every varsity winter sports team.

Men’s alpine skiing

by Captain Rudolph

Head coach: Stever Bartlett (15th year at Midd)

Captains: Tim Gavett ’22.5

Players to watch for: Justin Alkier ’21.5, Bradshaw Underhill ’25, Axel Bailey ’25

Background: Men’s alpine has very enthusiastic and talented first years who are bringing nothing but positive energy this season. Two veterans, Justin Alkier and Tim Gavett, both won a few events in the 2020 season and have continued their training to become even more dominant for this Carnival season. Get ready for the Middlebury Carnival where men’s alpine will seek victory in an attempt to avenge the one-point loss to UVM in the 2019 event. 

Key matches: UVM Carnival (Away; Feb 4–5), Dartmouth Carnival (Away; Feb. 11–12), Middlebury Carnival (Home; Feb. 18–19)

Women’s alpine skiing

by Captain Rudolph

Head coach: Stever Bartlett (15th year)

Captains: Lucia Bailey ’21.5

Players to watch for: Ali Nullmeyer ’23, Alexandra Cossette ’24, Mika-Anne Reha ’25

Background: Women’s alpine are excited to compete this winter. Ali Nullmeyer, also a skier for the Canadian national team, plans to continue where she left off in winning multiple races in the 2020 season. Lucia Bailey and Nina Reichhelm ’23.5 plan to join Nullmeyer in leading the team to a successful year after all three finished in the top 10 at NCAA’s in 2020. Alexandra Cossette ’24 and Mika-Anne Reha ’25 will join a strong supporting cast in their first ever races for the team.

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Key matches: UVM Carnival (Away; Feb. 4–5), Dartmouth Carnival (Away; Feb. 11–12), Middlebury Carnival (Home; Feb. 18–19)

Men’s basketball

by Sam Lipin

Head Coach: Jeff Brown (24th year)

Captains: Thomas Zodda ’22.5, Nash Goldman ’22.5, Alex Sobel ’23

Players to watch for: Peter Carlson ‘22.5, Charley Moore ’24, Sam Stevens ’25

Background: Men’s basketball will field a team with only one player, Alex Sobel ’23, who has found considerable playing time in his Middlebury career. Although the team is coming off of a dominant season in 2019–20 (21–6), this is a brand new squad lacking experienced veterans. Middlebury fans will watch eagerly to see how this young team responds to the adversity of their first season together. 

Key Matchups: Hamilton (Home; Jan. 8), Trinity (Home; Jan. 28), Tufts (Away; Feb. 11)  

Women’s basketball

by Isabella Marcus

Head coach: KJ Krasco (7th year)

Captain: Michaela Sullivan ’22

Players to watch for: Alyna Baharozian ’22.5, Reagan McDonald ’23, Gianna Palli ’23.5

Background: In their last competitive season (2019–20), women’s basketball started hot with a 9–1 record, before dropping to a 12–12 overall record with a 2–8 run in NESCAC play. The team had several key injuries during its last season, including players Alyna Baharozian ’22.5 and Gianna Palli ’23.5. The team graduated three of the four highest point scorers in 2020, but is looking to regroup with two new classes of players. Led by senior captain Michaela Sullican ’22, the squad has its eye on a NESCAC Championship, a feat the program has never achieved before.

Key matches: Amherst (Away; Jan. 7), Bowdoin (Home; Jan. 15), Tufts (Home; Feb. 11)

Men’s hockey

by Blaise Siefer

Head coach: Neil Sinclair ’93 (10th year)

Captains: Bret Pastor ’22.5, Emack Bentley ’22.5

Players to watch for: Tyler Capello ’22, Antoine Belisle ’23, Billy Dobensky ’23

Background: It’s been a rough past decade for men’s hockey, who haven’t compiled a winning season since 2012–13. The team has made the NESCAC Tournament eight of the past 10 seasons, but their last NESCAC Championship dates back to the 2009–10 season. As the team looks to rebuild, one key question is where offensive production will come from, with three of the highest four point scorers from the 2019–20 season having graduated. But these questions aren’t dampening the team’s spirits this winter; many rookie and sophomore players will compete for playing time right away, and the team has depth at every position. Throw in their focused and aspirational leadership group, and the team might just surprise fans this season. 

Key matches: Amherst (Home; Dec. 10), Trinity (Home; Feb. 4), Williams (Home; Feb. 11)

Women’s hockey

by Blaise Siefer

Head coach: Bill Mandigo (33rd year)

Captains: Ellie Barney ’21.5, Madie Leidt ’22, Eva Hendrikson ’22.5

Players to watch for: Katie Hargrave ’22, Jenna Letterie ’22.5, Claudia Vira ’23

Background: Here’s a stat for you: Since 2015, women’s hockey has appeared in every NESCAC Championship game. They won in 2016, 2017 and 2018, and in the other years, they finished as the runner-up. This considered, it’s not hard to understand the optimism that the women’s hockey team boasts entering the 2021–22 season. This team will aim to make noise in the NCAA Tournament. 

Key matches: Amherst (Away; Dec. 3), Hamilton (Home; Jan. 28), Williams (Home; Feb. 12)

Men’s nordic skiing

by Captain Rudolph

Head coach: Andrew Johnson (8th year)

Captains: Willson Moore ’22.5

Players to watch for: Peter Wolter ’21.5, Sam Hodges ’22.5

Background: Men’s nordic is energetic and eager to get on snow this winter. Veteran skiers Peter Wolter and Willson Moore should lead the charge for the Panthers this season, aided by a strong supporting cast of returners. The team is also excited about the two first years on the team, Logan Moore ’25 and Jack Christner ’25, who have brought a lot of enthusiasm and energy to practices this fall.  

Key matches: UVM Carnival (Away; Feb. 4–5), Dartmouth Carnival (Away; Feb. 11–12), Middlebury Carnival (Home; Feb. 18–19), UNH Carnival (Away; Feb. 25–26)

Women’s nordic skiing
by Captain Rudolph

Head coach: Andrew Johnson (8th year)

Captains: Avery Ellis ’21.5

Players to watch for: Kate Oldham ’24.5, Anja Jensen ’24.5, Quincy Massey-Bierman ’25

Background: Women’s nordic has many goals going into the season, including winning a carnival.  Avery Ellis ’21.5, who caught fire at the end of the 2020 season, will play a key role in the team’s success this winter. The newer members of the team are also eager to prove themselves from the get-go.

Key matches: UVM Carnival (Away; Feb. 4–5), Dartmouth Carnival (Away; Feb. 11–12), Middlebury Carnival (Home; Feb. 18–19)

Men’s squash
by Blaise Siefer

Head coach: Mark Lewis (6th year)

Captains: Nate Moll ’22, Teddy Best ’22

Players to watch for: PK Keller ’23, Oliver Leeds ’23, Nathan Feinstein ’25

Background: Men’s squash are a young and emerging team, as most of the squad has never played a competitive college game before. They currently rank No. 20 in the country but are eager to rank in the top 16. Matches against NESCAC foes will go a long way in determining the team’s course this season, with Bowdoin, Amherst and Williams offering some of the stiffest competition. Teddy Best ’22 will be particularly important to the team this winter, as a captain who also sits at the top of the lineup. 

Key matches: St. Lawrence University (Away; Nov. 21), United States Naval Academy (Home; Jan. 16), Bowdoin (Home; Jan. 7)

Women’s squash
by Blaise Siefer

Head coach: Mark Lewis (6th year)

Captains: Ideal Dowling ’22, Gwen Davis ’22.5

Players to watch for: Eva Finney ’24, Maya Bardorf ’24, Abby Holding ’25 

Background: There are many reasons to be optimistic about the women’s squash team this season, which enters the season ranked No. 14 in the national rankings. The team has depth at every class, including a strong returning core of juniors and seniors led by Davis and Dowling. The underclassmen have also impressed, despite their lack of college experience. The team aims to climb a few spots in the national rankings by the end of the season, with match-ups against Williams, Amherst and Bates carrying a lot of weight. 

Key matches: Bates (Home; Jan. 9), Amherst (Away; Jan. 19), Williams (Home; Jan. 26)

Editor’s Note: Ideal Dowling ’22 is an Editor at Large for The Campus.

Men’s swim & dive
by Blaise Siefer

Head coach: Bob Rueppel (10th year)

Captains: Jake Gaughan ’22, Liam O’Brien ’22 

Players to watch for: Riley Griffis ’24, Jack Undercofler ’25

Background: After a season of virtual competition last winter, men’s swim & dive will return to in-person meets this season — and anticipation is high. Because of the pandemic, over half of the team hasn’t competed on the college level before, elevating the excitement. Fans should expect big things from the rookie class, which has turned heads in practice this fall. The mid-distance freestyle group should also be particularly strong this season.

Key matches: Williams/Hamilton (Away; Jan. 22), Amherst (Home; Dec. 4), Middlebury Invitational (Home; Jan. 28–29)

Women’s swim & dive
by Charles Crounse 

Head coach: Bob Rueppel (10th year)

Captains: Courtney Gantt ’22, Maddie McKean ’22, Olivia Rieur ’22

Players to watch for: Lily Siemasko ’23, Haley Hutchinson ’23, Annika Edwards ’24, Margrete Byrom ’25 

Background: Women’s swim & dive looks to come back strong and improve upon their seventh place finish at the NESCAC Championships in the 2019–20 season. Despite losing a cast of key swimmers since their last appearance in competition, the team has high hopes for the season with a fresh group of strong, untested recruits as well as a deep sophomore class eager to get their first taste of collegiate competition. The diving unit, although small in number, is expected to compete with the very best in the NESCAC, while the fly and breaststroke swimmers also look set to be ones to watch this season. Expect a strong season with some fast times across the board, and just maybe consider them as outside contenders to grab a spot on the NESCAC podium.

Key matches: Amherst (Home; Dec. 4), Bates (Home; Jan. 9), Middlebury Invitational (Home; Jan. 28–29)

Men’s indoor track & field
by Blaise Siefer

Head coach: Martin Beatty ’84 (33rd year)

Captains: Max Memeger ’22, Dan Brey ’22, Noah Whiting ’22, Will Behm ’22, ​​Zander Kessler ’22.5

Players to watch for: Peter Hansen ’23, Sam Maxwell ’24, Drew Donahue ’25

Background: While there aren’t NESCAC Championships for indoor track & field (the winter season is prep for the spring season), men’s track & field isn’t short of motivation this winter. The team is reigning NESCAC champion, after all, having won the outdoor championship in 2019 on home soil. And although there isn’t a NESCAC Championship, there are New England D-III and NCAA Championship meets to shoot for at the end of the season. While the Panthers should be strong all around this winter, look out for the middle distance group, who won the national distance medley relay in 2019. 

Key matches: Middlebury Winter Classic (Home; Jan. 15), Middlebury Invitational (Home; Jan. 29), Division III New England Championships (Home; Feb. 25–26)

Women’s indoor track & field
by Sam Lipin

Head Coach: Martin Beatty (33rd year) 

Captains: Julia Munz ’22, Jackie Topping ’22, Cassie Kearney ’22, Cady Barns ’22.5 

Key Players: Nicole Johnson ’22, Mary Scott Robinson ’24, Bea Parr ’25 

Background: After a cross country season in which Cassie Kearney ’22 and Bea Parr ’25 dominated the field, Middlebury’s distance runners will now move on to the indoor season where they will be joined by Middlebury field record holders Mary Scott Robinson ’24 (Shot Put: 12.12m) and Cady Barns ’22 (Triple Jump: 11.75m; Long Jump: 5.56m). Women’s track & field is coming off of a very successful spring season when they won both of their team matches (97–58 against Union and 102–69 against Hamilton) and sent three athletes to the NCAA championship. With their stars returning, will they continue to dominate and break records?

Key Matches: Middlebury Snowflake (Home; Jan. 22), Division III New England Championships (Away; Feb. 25–26), NCAA Championships (Away; Mar. 11–12).

Isabella Marcus

Isabella Marcus is a sports editor.

Blaise Siefer

Blaise Siefer ‘23.5 is a sports staff writer.

Siefer is majoring in Sociology and minoring in Spanish.

For three semesters in 2021 and 2022, Siefer served as Senior Sports Editor. He also co-founded a Middlebury sports recap podcast, PFL Weekly, which is released on all major streaming platforms every Tuesday. 

Siefer is also the Co-Founder and Co-President of Middlebury Club Soccer.

Sam Lipin

SSam Lipin '23.5 returns this fall for his third semester as an editor for the Sports section. A Classics major with an Italian minor, Sam worked as a reporting intern this summer at the Addison Independent. He has hosted four radio shows through WRMC and tells his friends he plays rugby though he has not been to a practice in a year and a half.

Charles Crounse

Charles Crounse '24 (he/him) is the senior sports editor for the Campus. He has previously worked as a writer and staff editor for the section. Charles is pursuing a major in environmental policy and a minor in French, and in his free time he enjoys biking, hiking, and exploring Vermont. He is also a member of the club soccer team on campus.