Truckee’s Matt Gelso wins NCAA Nordic Championship | SierraSun.com

Truckee’s Matt Gelso wins NCAA Nordic Championship

Sylas Wright
Sierra Sun

Courtesy of University of ColoradoMatt Gelso of Truckee won the NCAA Championship in the Classic discipline on Thursday.

TRUCKEE, Calif. and#8212; One NCAA title in the bag, one to go for Matt Gelso.

After a scintillating regular season for the Buffaloes, the Truckee High grad and University of Colorado senior captured the NCAA championship in the 10-kilometer Classic discipline at Steamboat Springs, Colo., on Thursday. He now has a shot at winning a second national title Saturday, when the NCAA Championships conclude with the 20K freestyle race.

and#8220;Iand#8217;m pretty excited,and#8221; Gelso said by phone Thursday. and#8220;Iand#8217;ve been racing so well the past couple of weeks, I thought it was definitely within the realm of possibilities. And I skied well today. It feels good.and#8221;

The 21-year-old Gelso, a product of the Far West Nordic racing program, posted a winning time of 29 minutes, 25.5 seconds to outdistance runner-up Franz Bernstein of University of Vermont, who finished in 29 minutes, 49.7 seconds.

Gelsoand#8217;s national title comes on the heels of being named the Buffaloesand#8217; co-male athlete of the week after recording four consecutive wins. It was the second time Gelso had earned the award this season and the sixth time in his collegiate career.

Before the start of his senior season he said his goal was to win at least one of the two races at the NCAA Championships, particularly the 20K freestyle. His odds look good, although nothing is certain until he reaches the finish line, he said.

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and#8220;Thereand#8217;s definitely a possibility,and#8221; Gelso said. and#8220;But you canand#8217;t guarantee anything. Somebody could pop a good race, or I could race bad. Anything is possible. But Iand#8217;m going to try to do it.and#8221;

It would be a fitting way to cap his career at Colorado. and#8220;That would be the perfect end and#8212; win the last six races in a row, two NCAA championships,and#8221; Gelso said. and#8220;Iand#8217;d be pretty happy, to say the least.and#8221;

Colorado head coach Bruce Cranmer said before the season that he was confident his No. 1 skier had the potential to win at least one of the two national titles.

and#8220;That would be a great achievement for him, and he certainly has the ability to do it,and#8221; Cranmer told the Sierra Sun in a January interview. and#8220;And it will be his last chance, so it would be great if he could pull it off this year.and#8221;

Gelsoand#8217;s Colorado teammate, freshman Joanne Reid of Far West Nordic, finished fourth in the womenand#8217;s 10K Classic race on Thursday.

Gelso dominated the junior ranks with Far West Nordic before earning a full-ride scholarship to Colorado and an invitation onto the U.S. Ski Team’s development team.

The Truckee grad went on to piece together a stellar freshman season in which he recorded 10 top-five finishes in a dozen races, including a win. After finishing fifth and sixth, respectively, in the Classic and freestyle disciplines at the NCAA Championships, he was named Colorado’s Male Freshman Athlete of the Year.

The next year, despite an untimely illness that forced him to sit out consecutive races, Gelso bounced back to record a 17th-place finish in the freestyle and a ninth place in the Classic at the NCAA Championships. As a junior last year, he won a race and recorded a number of top-three finishes before struggling through fatigue at the end of the season.

Gelso plans to graduate in the spring with a degree in finance before setting off on a two- to three-week rafting trip through the Grand Canyon with friends. He said in January that he hadn’t decided where he would take his skiing after graduation, adding that his senior season would factor into his decision.