Mariners run to first-place Borough finish
It was mariners-type weather, and a Homer Mariners-type meet.
The Homer girls and boys cross-country teams swept the team title at the Kenai Peninsula Borough meet Tuesday under constant showers at a puddly and slick Tsalteshi Trails.
The Homer girls have garnered a ton of accolades recently, most notably the Class 1-2-3A state crown last season.
“I’m really proud of both teams, especially the boys,” Homer Coach Bill Steyer said. “The boys are sometimes overshadowed by what the girls have done, but they’re some really good athletes that are putting in hard work as well.”
Steyer also likes the way the meet sets the Mariners up for Regions on Sept. 26 and State on Oct. 3.
But he also knows nothing can be taken for granted, and Tuesday showed two reasons why.
First, there were the conditions at Tsalteshi, which had one puddle cresting at 1 foot deep. A few runners fell down or turned ankles, but there were no major incidents.
Second, two Homer girls runners were disqualified for switching bibs. The Mariners were still able to hang on for the team title, but Steyer said a valuable lesson was learned before a similar mishap could result in a lost trip to state or even a state title.
“I used to race dogs long distance, like in the Iditarod and Yukon Quest, so I know that anything can always happen,” Steyer said.
Homer’s boys scored 29 points for the win, while Seward was second at 49, Soldotna was third at 55 and Kenai Central was fifth at 91. The Mariners put all five of their scoring runners in the top 10, with Jordan Beachy taking third, Jared Brant taking fourth, Charlie Menke taking fifth, Luciano Fasulo taking seventh and Jacob Davis nabbing 10th.
On the girls side, Homer put all five of its scoring runners in the top 12 despite losing a top-10 finisher to disqualification. Megan Pitzman led the Mariners with a runner-up finish, clocking 12:27 to Boonstra’s 12:11. Alex Moseley was sixth, Aurora Waclawski was seventh, Lauren Evarts was 11th and Ziza Shemet Pitcher was 12th.
Homer’s 34 points edged Kenai’s 39 for the win, while Soldotna was third with 49. The Kardinals competed without one of their top runners Jaycie Calvert, who sat out with a minor hip issue.
Kenai Central sophomore Riana Boonstra captured the 3K girls race, coming back from a hamstring injury that had been hampering her for her first borough title. After starting her season with a fourth-place finish on Aug. 22 at the Tsalteshi Invitational, Boonstra said the hamstring kept her from returning to form until Tuesday.
And, perhaps not surprisingly for the reigning Mount Marathon junior girls champion, Boonstra said she loved every minute of the rain and mud.
“I really, really like running in the rain,” she said. “I think it’s cool and refreshing. The mud and slippery trail also doesn’t bother me.
“Me and Addison (Gibson) both really like races like this, so we were both happy.”
Pitzman did not seem quite as enthused about the conditions, but finished second nonetheless in the last race of the day.
“That was just crazy,” she said. “It was raining hard, but it started pouring even more during the race. It was hard to see when you were going down some of the hills. There were a lot of puddles, but you just had to go right through them.”
The borough wins follow strong finishes again by both the Mariner boys and girls teams last weekend during Frank Dieckgraeff Cross Country Invitational in Seward.
The Mariner boys finished that meet in first place; the Mariners girls were second.
Kenai Peninsula Borough cross-country meet
Team scores: 1. Homer, 29; 2. Seward, 49; 3. Soldotna, 55; 4. Kenai Central, 91.
Individual 3-kilometer results
1. Hunter Kratz, Sew, 10:18; 2. Aaron Swedberg, Sol, 10:38; 3. Jordan Beachy, Hom, 10:55; 4. Jared Brant, Hom, 11:00; 5. Charlie Menke, Hom, 11:07; 6. Paxson Berry, Sew, 11:08; 7. Luciano Fasulo, Hom, 11:10; 8. Levi Michael, Sol, 11:12; 9. Karl Danielson, Ken, 11:13; 10. Jacob Davis, Hom, 11:18; 11. Braden Olson, Kenai, 11:19; 12. Thomas Zweifel, Sew, 11:22; 13. Koby Vinson, Sol, 11:23; 14. Seth Brewi, Sew, 11:25; 15. Greg Trail, Niko, 11:28; 16. Josh Shuler, Sol, 11:29; 17. Case Estes, Sew, 11:36; 18. Jeremy Kupferschmid, Sol, 11:41; 19. Denver Waclawski, Hom, 11:41; 20. Dexter Lowe, Hom, 11:42; 21. John-Mark Pothast, Sol, 11:42; 22. Jonathan Kingsland, Sew, 11:54; 23. Roy Taylor, Ken, 11:56; 24. Alex Estes, Sew, 12:19; 25. Mathew Torkelson, Ken, 12:51. 26. Alden Bookey, Ken, 13:19; 27. Gavin Wallis, Nik, 13:37; 28. Aaron McCollum, Nik, 13:58; 29. Henry Heft, Nik, 15:50.
Team scores: 1. Homer, 34; 2. Kenai Central, 39; 3. Soldotna, 49.
Individual 3-kilometer results
1. Riana Boonstra, Ken, 12:11; 2. Megan Pitzman, Hom, 12:27; 3. Ruby Lindquist, Sew, 12:30; 4. Ithaca Bergholtz, Ken, 12:34; 5. Addison Gibson, Ken, 12:50; 6. Alex Moseley, Hom, 12:54; 7. Aurora Waclawski, Hom, 13:04; 8. Daisy Nelson, Sol, 13:06; 9. Kellie Arthur, Sol, 13:07; 10. Olivia Hutchings, Sol, 13:23; 11. Lauren Evarts, Hom, 13:24; 12. Ziza Shemet Pitcher, Hom, 13:34; 13. Molly Erickson, Sol, 13:39; 14. Hannah Pothast, Sol, 13:40; 15. Emily Werner, Sol, 13:43; 16. Kasey Paxton, Ken, 13:55; 17. Leah Johnson, Ken, 14:22; 18. Megan Hickman, Niko, 14:29; 19. Jazi Larrow, Sol, 14:36; 20. Nimi Pollock, Ken, 14:51; 21. Iris Anderson, Sew, 15:27.
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