The Lady Mariner volleyball team toned up its skills this weekend with two non-conference matches, playing their rival team Kenai on Friday and engaging in the dynamic Alice Witte Alumni Match on Saturday.
Head Coach Beth Trowbridge said she is pleased with the team’s improvement.
The Homer Mariners and the Voznesenka Cougars reached the end of their football seasons last week, missing the play-offs by the Mariners’ 18-6 loss to the Houston Hawks at Houston and the Cougars’ 41-14 loss to the Eielson Ravens in Homer. Both games were played on Friday.
Houston 18, Homer 6
Homer High’s swim team scored several record times and brought home a first-place trophy after competing in two meets held in Valdez last Friday and Saturday. Despite the 12-hour bus ride, a couple of injured players, a few colds and even a case of strep throat the Mariners persevered through the competitions against Valdez and Cordova with Homer boys placing first overall.
Facing the best cross country runners from around the state, Homer High School athletes met the challenge one fast step at a time at the ASAA-First National Bank state cross country championships at Bartlett High School in Anchorage last Saturday.
“It was a great race, a great outcome,” said Bill Steyer, head coach of the Mariners’ cross country program. “They did really good. I’m really proud of all of them.”
No volleyball team was going down without a fight during Homer’s Peninsula Challenge attended by the Mariner varsity and JV, Kenai varsity and JV and Cordova varsity. After battling their way through several fierce matches Homer varsity took first place followed by the varsity team for Kenai.
After an initial round robin play on Friday, Homer went into the double elimination tournament on Saturday seeded second with a 5-3 record after Kenai with a 7-1 record.
The smiling Homer Middle School Huskies’ 20-member girls soccer team has reason to smile. The girls fast footwork earned them the second-place trophy at the middle school Regions Soccer Tournament played in Kenai Sept. 28.
The team beat the Soldotna Maroon team 2-1 in the first game.
Advancing to the championship, they lost to Kenai, 2-1, taking second place.
It was another big weekend for the Homer Mariner cross country team, competing in Regions held in Seward on Sept. 28.
“It was an excellent meet,” said Head Coach Bill Steyer. “Highlights included a very strong performance by the boys varsity team to capture third place and qualify for state; a very close race for girls Region III 3A title against Grace Christian with Homer coming in second place and also qualifying for state; and Megan Pitzman winning the Girls 3A competition by a substantial margin of 40 seconds.”
Mariner swimmers traveled to Soldotna Sept. 27 for the annual Pentathlon, an event unlike any other in the season. While the event didn’t officially “count towards anything”, Head Coach Rebecca Hardy said Homer wouldn’t miss the opportunity to join in the fun.
“Everyone had a good time and we are definitely looking forward to next year’s Pentathlon. We would never miss it,” she said.
There’s a lot to be said for a football team that never quits, in spite of the battle. Just ask Mariner Head Coach Josh Fraley, in the aftermath of the Sept. 28 49-0 loss to the Lathrop Malemutes. And ask Justin Zank, head coach of the Voznesenka Cougars, who just returned from a game against the Monroe Rams. The Rams won with a 54-0 score in a game played in Fairbanks Sept. 25.
There was definitely a buzz of community energy at Homer High School Mariner homecoming events Friday and Saturday.
Last week’s football games were brutal for southern peninsula teams. The SoHi Stars shut out the Homer Mariners 59-0, while the Nikiski Bulldogs cinched a 46-6 victory over the Voznesenka Cougars.
The Sept. 21 game between the Homer Mariners and the SoHi Stars, played in Soldotna, was a rematch of the 2012 medium-schools state championship game. The strength of the Stars, winner of that 2012 game, wasn’t a surprise to Homer Head Coach Josh Fraley.
Homer Mariners swam with a stronger stroke than ever during the competitive Kenai Invite against Palmer, Soldotna, Kenai, Seward, Wasilla and Colony on Sept. 21. Several times others were left behind in the wake of new records and the team celebrated several individual and team victories.
“The meet was very successful,” said Head Coach Rebecca Hardy.
“There were a lot of best times for our swimmers. ... We got faster times than we were expecting.”
From snow to rain to snow to rain…and so it went at Saturday’s XC relay on the Lookout Mountain ski trails above Homer. In spite of an early brush with winter, however, two four-runner teams of Homer Mariner girls took first and second place in the varsity competition. In the boys’ varsity race, Skyview took first, one Homer team took second place. In the junior varsity race, Nikolaevsk secured first place.
“The trail was slippery in places,” said Homer High Head Coach Bill Steyer. “It was tough for the kids to stay warm.”
It was a nail-biter match in the Alice Witte Gymnasium between Homer and Nikiski during the four back-to-back games on Friday. According to Head Coach Beth Trowbridge Homer’s offense was strong, but the team lost ground due to inconsistent defense. The Mariners sank to the Nikiski Bulldogs with an end score of 22-25, 25-22, 19-25, and 24-26.
“We put up a strong blocking front row forcing Nikiski to tip around our blockers which would typically lead to an easy transition, but our back row had trouble adjusting and continually got burned by the tips.” explained Trowbridge.
Head Coach Josh Fraley and the Homer High School varsity football team knew Friday’s game against the Palmer Moose was going put the Mariners to the test.
“Even though we lost, everyone knew it was going to be a tough game and I’m really happy with the effort they gave in that game,” said Fraley.
“They played well together as a team. That, as a coach, makes you feel good if they can do that. … These guys took the challenge, didn’t let that be their identity, but came out, fought hard and played the entire game fighting hard.”
The girls on the Homer High School Mariners varsity cross country team conquered the Frank Dieckgraeff Invitational meet in Seward on Friday, charging into first place in a competition against nine other schools.
In a field of 13 boys teams, the Mariner boys claimed eighth place.
“It was a pretty awesome performance, awesome across the board,” said Head Coach Bill Steyer. “I hope they can keep the momentum going. They’re doing really well.”
With the Voznesenka Cougars fielding an 11-man football team for the team’s first official season, Head Coach Justin Zank has repeatedly said his goal was to make the team competitive. Saturday’s homecoming game showed that Zank and the Cougars have hit the mark with a 28-point shutout that left the Seward Seahawks empty-handed.
“It was very exciting for all of us, being Cougar football’s first homecoming,” said Zank.
Richard Creary — a resident at South Peninsula Hospital Long Term Care unit, 1963 Kenai High School graduate and a retired U.S. Air Force technical sergeant — was interrupted while watching a western on television the morning of Saturday, Aug. 31.
It was an interruption he didn’t mind, however. His grandson, Kyle Foree, a running back for the Kenai Kardinals, and the entire team of players and coaches surprised Creary with a visit before Kenai’s afternoon game against the Homer Mariners.
The Homer Middle School Huskies compete in the Seward XC Invitational at 3 p.m. Friday. Also in Seward on Friday, Homer takes on Seward in a soccer game at 3 p.m.
The following weekend, the Huskies run in the Kenai XC Invitational at 3 p.m. Sept. 20. The soccer teams plays the Soldotna Middle School at 3 p.m. in Homer on the same day.
The Voznesenka Cougars take on the Seward Seahawks Saturday on the Homer High School football field at 4 p.m.
This will be the Cougars’ third conference game and follows an Aug. 30 win over the Valdez Buccaneers, 42-28, also played in Homer.
Saturday will be Voznesenka’s homecoming game.