Baseball season. Feels good just to say it, right?
While a true summer has yet to arrive, the high school baseball season is preparing to begin its first games, in which Homer, Kenai Central and Soldotna will find out exactly who is the top Kenai Peninsula team.
The three teams will attempt to fit into two state berths from the Northern Lights Conference. Last year, only Kenai made the cut. The Kardinals won once in three games en route to a fifth-place finish.
Less than six weeks from now, the state high school softball tournament will begin. The Lady Mariner softball team, led by longtime Coach Bill Bell, officially kicks off its season today with games against the Kenai Kardinals in Kenai. The JV team is set to play at 4 p.m., with the varsity game at 6 p.m.
The team has its sights on another shot at the State Championship.
Having made it to the state tournament 12 out of the last 13 years, Coach Bell notes "winning" as the goal for a team that seems to improve throughout the season every year.
After 16 years of coaching the Homer High School Mariner football team, Head Coach Camron Wyatt has decided to focus his attention in other areas. This also wraps up six years of working with the Mariner team for Assistant Coach Pete Swanson.
Currently teaching social studies, auto shop and wood shop, Wyatt laughingly said he has discovered the role of being a parent doesn't end when children leave home.
Mitch Wyatt, 2011 Alaska State Champion wrestler and 2011 Homer High School graduate, has been named to the National Wrestling Coaches Association All-Academic second team as a part-time starter this year for the University of Colorado Mesa Mavericks. The Redshirt freshman wrestles at 174 pounds and earned a 10-12 record this season for the Division II School. Working toward a degree in exercise science, Wyatt holds a 3.88 GPA. While in Homer, he was a three-time Alaska State placer and three-time regional champion.
The Homer Invite will not happen this weekend.
“There’s maybe about 15 meters of ice that could just not thaw out. There’s 30 meters of clear sailing that are perfectly dry, but about five or six inches of ice on parts of the track,” said Homer High School Head Track Coach Bill Steyer.
It was hoped the Invite would be the inaugural event for the new track.
“We had 12 teams signed up, including teams from outside of the district,” said Steyer. “People are starting to get word of our track.”
Nine months of serious swimming has paid off for 10 of Homer’s best swimmers who leave next weekend for Anchorage to compete in the biggest swimming meet in the state, Junior Olympics at Bartlett High School.
“We start in September and go until April. It’s at least three hours of swim practice five days a week and even more during the high school season,” said 14-year-old Lauren Kuhns.
The Homer Mariner Track and Field team took to the Dome in Anchorage last Friday and Saturday for The Big C Relays.
In the midst of many great individual and team performances, Junior Tayla Cabana took second place out of six athletes in the girl’s pentathlon as the only Mariner to compete in the event.
The Mariners boys soccer team has started the season with a few injured limbs, but the hope is the healing will finish before the snow melts. The team of 36 boys started its first official day of practice March 25.
“Practice ends at 8 p.m., but when the boys heard the gym was going to be open later, they stayed. It is 8:40 p.m. now and these boys are just wrapping up. It proves that they are eager and excited for the season,” said Head Coach Warren Waldorf on the first day of practice.
The Popeye Wrestling Club traveled to Nikiski last weekend to compete in the Nikiski Wrestling Club Freestyle Tournament. Homer’s wrestlers took fourth place as a team and also had four individual first place finishes. Saoirse Cook (35-38 pounds), Teddy Croft (100-109 pounds), Jaime Rios (105-111pounds) and Mark McGregor (156-171 pounds) dominated their opponents as the only Popeye grapplers to go undefeated.
Saoirse Cook’s place is 1st.
A new track. A new element to the training program. And more than 25 student athletes trying out for various events in track and field.
Homer High School Head Track Coach Bill Steyer, now in his fifth season with the program, is reaping the benefits of building the track and field program from the ground up — including what is his largest team to date.
Although the track is still covered in snow, the team has already been getting practice time outdoors — which means better conditioning early in the season, says Steyer.
The Popeye Wrestling Club sent 12 wrestlers to Wasilla last Saturday to compete in the Arctic Warriors Ultimate Challenge. The grapplers brought home six medals including two first place finishes by Austin Shafford and Wayne Newman at Novice 80-84 pounds and 85-91 pounds respectively.
The Cook Inlet Academy girls basketball team outlasted the Nikolaevsk Warriors in a thrilling triple-overtime game to win the Class 1A state championship 43-39 March 20 at the Sullivan Arena in Anchorage.
The strategy that the Eagles used in the second and third overtime periods proved to be the difference, as CIA simply held possession of the ball and nearly ran the clock out before attempting to score.
Last Saturday, the Popeye Wrestling Club hosted its annual Freestyle Tournament in the Alice Witte Gymnasium at Homer High School. Sixteen teams from as far north as Houston made the sunny commute for the one-day tournament. Homer’s grapplers took fifth place among the 16 teams competing and won 32 medals.
At 36 pounds, 5-year-old Saoirse Cook took first place, pinning her four opponents in less than a minute each in what Coach Chris Perk described as one of the best performances of the tourney.
The Homer Mite D team, coached by Charlie Johnson, poses for a picture after winning the Mite D “ Round-Up” Tournament last weekend. The championship game was played on St. Patrick’s Day at the Kevin Bell Arena. The HHA Glacier Kings defeated the KPHA Ice Hawks-White, 3-2. In other hockey action, the coed Pee Wee D team is going to the State of Alaska Playoffs in Fairbanks today. They are coached by Steve Nevak.
For those of us who saw the northern lights electrify Homer’s sky early Sunday morning, those lights of emerald green and vivid violet could not come at a better time for the remaining 14 Homer Epic 100 athletes still on the 100K.
“For these racers, it was a long day and now it’s night. Every muscle in their body aches, their food reserves are running low, and they are trying to stay warm. Then the northern lights start dancing all around the sky. It was as if someone was smiling down on the race,” said Race Coordinator Kathy Sarns.
The Lady Mariners made it into the consolation bracket last weekend after winning one game during the South Central Conference Regional Tournament in Seward.
The Mariner Men started the Region tournament with a tough matchup against the top-ranked and eventual South Central Region 3A Champion ACS Lions March 7. The Lions, led by five first team all-regional players Augustus Simmers, Nate Simmers Jalen Terry, Calvin Hoffman and Colton Arnes defeated the Mariners 69-32 in a tale of two halves.
A grueling 26-mile marathon ski race, known to be the most difficult in the state with its big steep hills and backcountry feel, took place under picturesque conditions Saturday.
The 25K and 42K (the equivalent to the traditional 26 marathon miles) race started at the Lookout Mountain Trails and ended at the Baycrest Trails.
Young wrestlers from Homer and Anchor Point took part in two tournaments last weekend: the Tanana Middle School Tournament held in Fairbanks and the United States Girls Wrestling Association Tournament at Service High School.
Tanana Middle School hosted nearly 500 sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders during the two-day unofficial Middle School State Tournament. Homer and Chapman brought up nine wrestlers.
The Homer Huskies placed 11th overall in the tourney with 70.5 points. The Chapman Eagles combined for 21.5 points, earning them 23rd place.
The Homer Mariners hosted the Seward Seahawks last Friday at the Alice Witte gymnasium for the last home game of the basketball season. Both varsity squads lost during the Mariners' senior appreciation night.
Seahawks 46, Lady Mariners 22
The Lady Mariners started off the night losing to the Seahawks 46-22. Seniors Alicia Isenhour, Miranda Beach, Tiyana Hill and Hailey Oliver received much playing time during their last home game as Mariners, while Oliver was the only senior to score with 6 points, all coming in the paint.