A University of Vermont skiing alum has made history. Lowell Bailey, who graduated from UVM in the class of 2005, became the first American ever to win a biathlon world championship in a thrilling finish on Thursday in Hochfilzen, Austria.
Biathlon was the only winter sport in which the United States had never won an Olympic or world title, according to officials with U.S. Biathlon. Bailey completed the 20K race in 48:07 and was a perfect 20-for-20 in shooting. Team USA had previously earned two silver medals and a bronze medal in past championships, which date back to 1958. Bailey has earned a trip to his fourth career Winter Olympic Games, and no matter what he does next year, he's already made history this year with his upset win in Austria yesterday.
In mens' college hoops, the Johnson State Badgers sent their graduating players off with a win on senor night, beating Green Mountain College 59-56 last night. Green Mountain got a big night from Thomas Brown, who led all scorers with 27 points on the night, but the Badgers hgeld the Eagles to just 37% shooting overall and were 46% from the floor themselves, led by Benjamin Holl's 14. The Badgers close out their season Saturday at Castleton, but the Badgers do remain in the running for an NAC tournament playoff berth.
The Spartans, meanwhile, were in action last night, pulling out a tight, one point win, 69-68 over Lyndon State in Lyndonville. It was a back and forth affair all night until Castleton went up by three on a Jordan Nelson jumper. The Hornets closed to within one on two free throws by Xavier Colbert, but that was all the scoring either team would do, neither squad hitting a bucket over the final two minutes of the game. Jordan Neslon had a game high 18 points for the Spartans while Josiah Woodruff had 17 to lead the Hornets. Castleton improves to 16-7 with the win and can clinch the second seed in the tournament if they beat Johnson State Saturday.
The Castleton women were winners as well over Lyndon State, winning 80-62 behind 21 points from Amanda Beatty, her fourth consecutive game with at least 20 points. Mariah Ramos led Lyndon State with 18. The Spartans have already secured a bye into the semi-finals of the NAC tournament next week. They close out the season Saturday against Johnson State. The Badgers are in 6th place in the conference and the game has significance for them as they try to stay in that slot and qualify for the tournament. The Badgers helped themselves in that effort with a 65-45 win over Green Mountain on senior night. Kasey DeGreenia scored a double double, pulling down 17 rebounds to go with her matching 17 points.
To the pros, and the Boston Celtics are heading into the all star break crying foul over a foul. Playing the second of back to back contests, the Celtics went down to the wire against the Chicago Bulls, clinging to a one point lead when Jimmy Butler pulled up for a jump shot with Marcus Smart defending. Butler missed the shot but Smart was called for a foul, and Butler sank his two free throws with less than one second left on the clock to come away with a 104-103 win. Was Butler fouled? Well, that depends on your definition of the word. Smart's hand definitely brushed Butler's elbow, but brushed it the way a feather duster might glide over a coffee table. Smart certainly couldn't believe the call, and did a you-gotta-be-kidding dance, hopping up and down the court in incredulity. But referees don't get swayed by such displays and Butler did his job to put the game away. The Celts still enter the all star break as one of the hottest teams in the league, winners of 11 of their last 13 despite the close loss last night.
In the NHL the NY Islanders are the poster child team for what the Boston Bruins hope will come of firing their head coach recently. The Islanders were mired at the bottom of the conference when they gave their head coach Jack Capuano his walking papers, and since then have steadily climbed under interim coach Doug Weight. They inched further up the ladder towards a potential playoff spot with a 4-2 win over their arch rivals the NY Rangers last night. Andrew Ladd scored twice for the Isles and John Tavares had two assists. The Islanders are now just one point behind Toronto for the second and final available wild card slot in the eastern conference.