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CU Buffs’ Magnus Boee completes NCAA Nordic sweep

Sophomore wins 20K freestyle as Buffaloes finish second in coach Richard Rokos’ final NCAA championships

JACKSON, N.H. - March 13, 2021: Colorado's Magnus Boee won the men's 20K freestyle Nordic race at the NCAA Ski Championships at Jackson Nordic Center.
JACKSON, N.H. – March 13, 2021: Colorado’s Magnus Boee won the men’s 20K freestyle Nordic race at the NCAA Ski Championships at Jackson Nordic Center.
JACKSON, N.H. – March 13, 2021: Colorado’s Magnus Boee won the men’s 20K freestyle Nordic race at the NCAA Ski Championships at Jackson Nordic Center. (Courtesy of the NCAA)

JACKSON, N.H. – Magnus Boee capped a remarkable season and Richard Rokos closed a sensational career.

On Saturday at the NCAA Ski Championships, Colorado came up short in its quest for a national title, but it was a triumphant day for the Buffaloes.

Boee, a sophomore from Oslo, Norway, won the men’s 20K freestyle Nordic race at Jackson Nordic Center, completing a sweep of the Nordic races this week.

In the team standings, CU finished in second (522.5 points), as Utah won its second consecutive national title. The Utes, who scored 554 points, have won three of the last four team titles. Denver finished third, with 442 points.

Boee, who won the classic race on Thursday, became just the second CU men’s Nordic skier to get an NCAA sweep, joining Mads Stroem in 2016.

“It’s amazing,” Boee said. “I kind of knew my potential somewhat that I was capable of doing it, but, you know, there’s a difference between being capable of doing something and actually doing it. There’s a lot that can go wrong. You always have to make sure everything goes right, and it always feels great when you end up getting it all right and nothing was in your way.”

“It’s just great satisfaction, as well as a little bit of relief. I just focused on enjoying the race and that I find always works if you’re able to enjoy it.”

The Buffs were runner-up for the fourth time in the last five NCAA championships and continued a stellar streak of top-four finishes. CU is the only team to finish in the top four in the last 15 years.

JACKSON, N.H. – March 11, 2021: Colorado head coach Richard Rokos during the men’s classic Nordic race at the NCAA Ski Championships at Jackson Nordic Center. Rokos completed his 31st season as the Buffaloes’ head coach this year. (Courtesy of the NCAA)

Rokos, the legendary CU head coach, capped his 31st and final season at the helm with his ninth runner-up finish, to go along with his eight team titles.

“Second place makes you always hungry,” he said. “There is still room for improvement, goals for us to meet, and I’m excited that we got to the level they still have a place to go. So whoever comes in (as the next head coach) has room for improvement and can start with new title, new place to go, new team. I think it’s well set right now.”

During Rokos’ career, CU had 46 individual national champions and 290 All-Americans. The Buffs added three individual titles and 11 All-American honors this week.

“There’s gonna be some big shoes to fill there,” CU Nordic coach Jana Weinberger said. “I can’t really imagine the ski team right now without Richie, so I hope we’ll survive, and we’ll find somebody who’s worthy enough to replace him.”

In Rokos’ final week as coach, Boee was the star, as he completed one of the best seasons in program history.

He set new CU single-records for overall men’s Nordic wins (10), men’s classic wins (five) and men’s freestyle wins (five). Boee already ranks seventh in CU history for 13 career wins in any discipline.

This week, Boee became just the eighth men’s Nordic skier in NCAA history to sweep both races at nationals.

“He’s a very talented athlete,” Weinberger said. “He works very hard. He’s very competitive. … He finds these little milestones that he wants to pass, and now he got his two championships.”

Colorado freshman Weronika Kaleta competes in the women’s 15K Nordic freestyle race at the NCAA Ski Championships at Jackson Nordic Center in Jackson, N.H., on March 13, 2021. Kaleta placed seventh.

On Saturday, Boee won for the 10th time in 12 races this season, completing the 20K freestyle race in 48 minutes, 2.4 seconds – 15.9 seconds ahead of runner-up Samuel Hendry of Utah.

In addition to Boee’s win, the Buffs’ Oyvind Haugan earned second-team All-American honors with a sixth place finish in the 20K freestyle (48:56.8). Will Koch placed 13th, in 50:12.5.

In the women’s 15K freestyle race, CU’s Weronika Kaleta closed an impressive freshman season with a seventh-place finish, earning second-team All-American honors.

Kaleta, who was top-10 in eight races this season, skied the 15K course in 39:44.5 on Saturday. Junior Ezra Smith just missed out on All-American honors, placing 11th (40:29.7), while sophomore Anna-Maria Dietze was 12th (40:31.1).

Utah’s Sydney Palmer-Leger, who won the classic race on Thursday, completed the Nordic sweep by winning the freestyle.

“We kind of went into the day thinking there’s nothing to lose; we’re just gonna go and do our best,” Weinberger said. “We have not beaten Utah on the Nordic this season yet but miracles can happen and we just went for it and did our best.

“Overall, I’m happy with the day.”

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