Two skiers with strong local ties blazed the cross country trails Wednesday on the opening day of the NCAA Skiing Championships in the White Mountains.

Colby College senior Fred Bailey of Andover (Telstar) finished 20th in the men’s 10-kilometer freestyle. Bailey’s time of 26 minutes, 50.4 seconds on the fast track in Jackson, N.H., ranked fifth among skiers from schools in the Eastern Intercollegiate Ski Association.

Bailey earned second-team All-East laurels after crossing the wire among the top 10 at three stops during the winter carnival campaign. His top finish of seventh came in the 20K at the University of Vermont, perhaps hinting at an even better result Friday in the NCAA 15K classical final.

Bates also made noise at the Nordic kick-off, with sophomore Sylvan Ellefson of Vail, Colo., placing 11th with a time of 26:17 in the 10K freestyle. It was somewhat of a good news/bad news situation for Ellefson. He improved his performance by 11 spots over last year’s placement in the same race. The cutoff for All-America distinction is the top 10, however, and Ellefson finished only three-tenths of a second behind Even Sletten of Utah in the chase for the final spot.

The Bobcats will feature a full field of women’s alpine competitors in today’s giant slalom and Saturday’s slalom at Attitash, led by sophomore Liz Thompson of Rangeley (Carrabassett Valley Academy). Another CVA alum, Whitney Fahy, also topped the NCAA qualification standard, but is expected to watch the races as an alternate due to a rule that limits each team to three skiers.

Hoop dreams

Kinsey Durgin of Greenwood (Telstar) and the Rhode Island College men’s basketball team remain alive in their quest for the NCAA Division III men’s basketball championship.

RIC hosted first and second-round games last weekend in Providence. The Anchormen held off Coast Guard, 64-60, on Friday, with Durgin scoring 15 of his 18 points in the second half. Durgin added 10 points the next night to help Rhode Island repel Brandeis, 70-67.

A familiar foe awaits Rhode Island in the Sweet 16, where the Anchormen will meet Little East Conference rival Keene State for the fourth time this season. Keene State swept the regular-season confrontations, 82-78 and 92-81, before the Anchormen silenced the Owls in the league championship clash, 87-75.

They’ll renew acquaintances again Friday night at Amherst College, with the winner meeting the Amherst-Stevens Institute survivor for a berth in the final four.

Hamilton College made history last weekend with its first-ever NCAA women’s basketball tournament victory before throwing a second-round scare into one of last year’s national semifinalists. Sarah Schrader of Rangeley scored the first and last baskets in a 15-2 run that hoisted the Continentals to a 58-55 triumph over Mount St. Mary.

Schrader, who started 26 games in her sophomore season, chalked up six rebounds, three assists and three steals in a 58-52 loss to Scranton. She contributed to Hamilton’s initial Liberty League championship and first 20-win season since 1992-93 with 7.2 points, 3.7 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.9 steals per game.

The University of Maine at Farmington received two consolation prizes after last Friday’s 90-66 NCAA tournament loss to Brandeis. Caitlyn Laflin and Jamie Beaudoin backed up their citation as Rookie and Coach of the Year in the North Atlantic Conference by receiving the same statewide honors from the Maine Women’s Basketball Coaches Association.

University of Maine hopes to make a Cinderella surge into the Division I women’s field this weekend at the America East tournament in Vestal, N.Y. No. 6 Maine takes on No. 3 Vermont at 2 p.m. Friday in the quarterfinals. The Catamounts rallied in the second half to banish the pesky Black Bears, 71-57 and 80-74, twice during the regular season.

Katie Whittier of New Gloucester enters the home stretch of her career having started all 27 games for Maine (13-14) this winter, producing 8.8 points and 4.9 rebounds per contest, while hitting 88 percent of her free throws.

Not a Spartan existence

Kirk Bolduc of Lewiston led Castleton State to the semifinals of the ECAC East men’s hockey tournament last week, where the Spartans dropped a 3-2 decision to New England College.

Along the way, Bolduc picked up a game-winning goal in overtime of Castleton’s 3-2 road quarterfinal victory over Southern Maine. Bolduc finished his freshman campaign with five goals and 15 assists for 20 points, a total good for sixth on the squad. The Spartans were 17-6-4 overall.

Bolduc, a 5-foot-11, 215-pound forward, prepared for his Division III collegiate career by enjoying a successful stint at the junior level with the Cleveland Junior Lumberjacks of the Central States Hockey League.

In the ECAC East tourney, Bolduc went head-to-head with one of his former high school rivals. Kyle Smith of Auburn (Edward Little) capped his second season at Southern Maine with seven goals (fourth among the Huskies) and seven assists. USM concluded its season at 15-9-2, 12-5-2 in conference play.

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