Following a great performance at the Tsalteshi Invitational, the Mariners will host the Homer Invitational starting at 3 p.m. Friday.
Although the Tsalteshi race doesn’t feature a lot of small schools, Homer was the top 1-2-3A squad in both the girls and boys races, even beating out powerhouse Grace Christian. The girls finished sixth out of 16 participating schools; the boys seventh out of 19 participating schools.
Megan Pitzman was ninth in 19:54 in the girls race, and Homer’s top female finisher.
Jared Brant was the top Kenai Peninsula boys finisher, taking 31st in 17:24.
Homer Coach Bill Steyer also was happy that Jordan Beachy ran a 17:31 in the community race. He will join the team when he has enough practices.
“It went really well,” Steyer said. “I’m pleased with both teams.”
Homer figures to play a major role in Class 1-2-3A state title hunting this season.
In just five years, Steyer has built a powerful program at Homer.
Led by state runner-up and current junior Megan Pitzman, the Mariners snapped Grace Christian’s six-year string of state titles last season.
Homer returns six of seven runners from that team, which placed everybody in the top 29 at state.
“They look strong, but I don’t want to be overconfident,” Steyer said. “They still have to be motivated to work toward that goal.”
Steyer has 32 out for the team this year. That number sets a new high-water mark for the program under his watch.
Returners behind Pitzman at state last year were senior Aurora Waclawski, sophomore Alex Mosley, junior Lauren Evarts, senior Aziza Shemet Pitcher and junior Haley Knott.
Steyer said there will be plenty of competition for varsity slots, with junior Audrey Rosencrans and freshman Katie Davis expected to be factors.
The Homer boys also are rising, finishing third at state and losing just two off the squad.
“My boys are really young and I think they might surprise some people,” Steyer said.
Junior Jared Brant led the Mariners by taking seventh at state last year, while sophomores Jordan Beachy and Jacob Davis were the next Mariners across the line.
Sophomores Denver Waclawski and Elan Carroll also return.
Homer also gets a boost from sophomore Charlie Menke, who won the first cross-country race of his career last week at the freshman-sophomore race at Nikiski.
Freshmen Luciano Fasulo and Dexter Lowe also will be factors.
“I’m just really excited about the number of kids we have out for running — enjoying running and learning about goal-setting and pushing themselves,” Steyer said.
Jeff Helminiak is the sports editor for the Peninsula Clarion.
2015 Tsalteshi Invitational
Girls Team Scores:
1. Chugiak, 71
2. Colony, 100
3. West Valley, 114
4. Service, 117
5. Kenai Central, 120
6. Homer, 135
7. West, 150
8. South, 155
9. Eagle River, 187 10. Dimond, 283
11. Kodiak, 288
12. Soldotna, 291 13. Grace, 348
14. East, 377
15. Wasilla, 405
16. Bethel, 460
Homer Girls Individual Results: 9. Megan Pitzman, Homer 19:54
29. Alex Mosley, Homer 20:39
31. Audrey Rosencrans,
32. Ziza Shemet Pitcher,
44. Aurora Waclawski,
57. Lauren Evarts, Homer 21:49
78. Katie Davis, Homer 22:42
117. Kelina Polushkin, Voznesenka 28:56
Boys Team Scores: 1. West Valley, 62
2. West Anchorage, 94
3. Service, 106
4. South, 136
5. Kodiak, 143
6. Chugiak, 194
7. Homer, 244
8. Grace Christian, 255
9. Eagle River, 255 10. Bartlett, 271
11. Wasilla, 276
12. Colony, 284
13. Dimond, 303
14. Soldotna, 303 15. East, 359
16. Palmer, 385
17. Kenai Central, 497
18. Kotzebue, 518 19. Bethel, 605
Boys Individual Results:
31. Jared Brant, Homer 17:24; 17:50 51. Luciano Fasulo, Homer 18:01
52. Charlie Menke, Homer 18:02
54. Jacob Davis, Homer 18:03
66. Denver Waclawski,
100. Dexter Lowe, Homer 19:07
107. Greg Trail, Nikolaevsk 19:19