Soldotna sophomore Tania Boonstra and Kenai Central senior Greg Fallon won the Kenai Peninsula Borough meet Thursday at Tsalteshi Trails just outside of Soldotna.
The team titles went to the Soldotna girls and Homer boys.
The Stars girls scored 30 points for the victory, just better than Seward’s 31. Kenai was third at 83, while Homer was fourth at 85.
The Mariners boys won with 29 points, while Soldotna was second with 45 and Kenai was third with 58.
On a mostly sunny day splashed with fall colors, the 5-kilometer course was laid out to be as flat as Tsalteshi gets — and as flat as cross-country in Alaska gets, for that matter — so personal records were the norm.
Boonstra lowered her PR by a little more than 28 seconds in winning her first borough title at 19 minutes, 12 seconds. Soldotna’s Kathryn DeBardelaben was second at 20:03, while SoHi’s Sasha Brott was third at 20:16.
“I didn’t even feel like I was going that fast, so I’m really happy,” Boonstra said. “I felt like I was going fast, I just didn’t feel like it was my PR.”
Next up for all the borough runners is the Region 3 meet in Seward on Saturday, Sept. 30. The SoHi girls are a good bet to finish in the top three for Division I and qualify for state, but have consistently lost to Colony at meets this season.
“I feel pretty good about it,” Boonstra said. “Our team, I think it’s really strong. It’s just fun to have each other — everyone up there pushing each other.”
Soldotna’s last two scoring runners Thursday were Annie Burns in 10th and Kathryn Cox in 14th.
Boonstra also looks set to wage a battle with Colony’s Ella Hopkins and Morgan Ainsworth for the Division I region title.
“It’s fun to have people there to race with,” she said. “It’s fun to push each other every race.”
Last season at state, the Seward girls captured their seventh small-schools title, and first since 2007.
Since getting senior Hailey Ingalls back from injury on Aug. 26, the Seahawks have been rounding into form for a robust title defense. That continued to be the case at boroughs as Seward was just one point behind Soldotna.
The Seahawks will compete at Division II at the Region 3 meet. The top four Division II teams at the Region 3 meet make state.
Ingalls said head coach Rachel Dow is doing a great job of meeting the team’s needs at practice and getting everybody in shape.
“We’re definitely talking about state a lot,” Ingalls said. “We do want to take the title back, but we’re mostly just having fun as a team.
“We’re like really close.”
Ingalls led a train of Seahawks runners to the line in fourth at 20:24, while Katie Van Buskirk was fifth, Selah Brueckner was sixth, Maddie Haas was seventh and Juniper Ingalls was ninth.
After missing track season in the spring due to anemia and then being injured early this season, Hailey Ingalls is just happy to be running again.
“This course was incredible. Awesome,” Ingalls said. “All of the leaves are turning colors and it’s flat.”
Beatrix McDonough led Homer by finishing eighth, while Emilee Wilson led Kenai by finishing 11th and Shelby Burman paced Nikiski by taking 20th.
Fallon won his second borough title by crossing the line at 16:14, while Homer’s Johannes Bynagle was second at 17:01.
Fallon also won boroughs as a sophomore in a 3K race in Seward. He lowered his PR by almost 14 seconds.
“I wish I could have been running that all season,” Fallon said. “With my injury and sickness, midseason I wasn’t feeling great.
“At the end of the season, I’m back in shape and where I want to be.”
At the Region 3 meet, Fallon will run in a Division II race that includes Grace Christian’s Robbie Annett, who is undefeated against all divisions this season. Grace’s Simon Nelson has been just behind Annett all season.
“They both got good PRs, but I’m going to try my best to keep up with them,” Fallon said. “We’ll see what happens.”
He said the flat, fast course and fast time was just what he needed for his confidence going into regions and state.
Homer took the team title as Bynagle was one of five runners in the top 10. Reid Rauch was fourth, Jai Badajos was sixth, Caleb Bunker was seventh and Ethan Styvar was 10th.
The good news for the Mariners is that group is made up of four sophomores and a freshman, although Grace will be hard to topple in the Division II team race at the Region 3 meet.
“I think we’re feeling pretty strong,” Bynagle said. “We’ve got a bunch of runners, and they’re all really close to one another.
“I think that pack mentality will push everyone to go faster.”
Bynagle got a PR of about 51 seconds thanks to the support of his parents, Dereky and Katie Bynagle, and Fallon.
“He’s definitely a lost faster than me,” Bynagle said of Fallon. “But the goal of trying to narrow the gap and trying to catch him definitely pushed me to go.”
Fallon was joined in the top 10 by teammate Jack Laker in third, while Soldotna had all of its scorers in the top 12.
Noble Cassidy was fifth, Tom Schwartz was eighth, James Innes was ninth, Finnley Loop was 11th and Elijah Jedlicki was 12th.
With Colony, Kodiak, Palmer and Wasilla all in the mix for the three Division I state berths at the Region 3 meet, the Stars will have their work cut out for them.
Ridge Conant led Seward in 13th, while Eli Brigham was 25th for Nikiski.
Soldotna honored seniors Jay Brott, Nuno Venturi, Joseph Holt, Jedlicki, Wesley Johnson, Avery Ciufo, Levi Mickelson, Megan Whittom, Jeren Nash, Kaytlin McAnelly, Finnley Loop, Gabriel Almeida and Danika Winslow between the girls and boys races.
Kenai Peninsula Borough meet
Thursday at Tsalteshi Trails
Team scores: 1. Soldotna, 30; 2. Seward, 31; 3. Kenai Central, 83; 4. Homer, 85.
Individual 5-kilometer results
1. Tania Boonstra, Sol, 19 minutes, 12 seconds; 2. Kathryn DeBardelaben, Sol, 20:03; 3. Sasha Brott, Sol, 20:16; 4. Hailey Ingalls, Sew, 20:24; 5. Katie Van Buskirk, Sew, 20:54; 6. Selah Brueckner, Sew, 20:59; 7. Maddie Haas, Sew, 21:03; 8. Beatrix McDonough, Hom, 21:12; 9. Juniper Ingalls, Sew, 21:13; 10. Annie Burns, Sol, 21:17; 11. Emilee Wilson, Ken, 21:45; 12. Claira Booz, Hom, 21:48; 13. Ruby Davis, Ken, 21:54; 14. Kathryn Cox, Sol, 22:00; 15. Kaytlin McAnelly, Sol, 22:02; 16. Kylie Dickson, Sol, 22:13; 17. Jaela Marchbanks, Hom, 22:25; 18. Emily Moss, Ken, 22:27; 19. Stella Dow, Sew, 22:33; 20. Shelby Burman, Nik, 22:44; 21. Teresa Fallon, Ken, 23:25; 22. Mya Taylor, Ken, 24:35; 23. Dianna Wright, Ken, 24:42; 24. McKenna Black, Hom, 25:04; 25. Lucia Carson, Ken, 25:18; 26. Ainsley Boss-Harmon, Hom, 32:26.
Team scores: 1. Homer, 29; 2. Soldotna, 45; 3. Kenai Central, 58.
Individual 5-kilometer results
1. Greg Fallon, Ken, 16:14; 2. Johannes Bynagle, Hom, 17:01; 3. Jack Laker, Ken, 17:25; 4. Reid Rauch, Hom, 17:34; 5. Noble Cassidy, Sol, 17:35; 6. Jai Badajos, Hom, 17:38; 7. Caleb Bunker, Hom, 17:40; 8. Tom Schwartz, Sol, 17:41; 9. James Innes, Sol, 17:43; 10. Ethan Styvar, Hom, 17:44; 11. Finnley Loop, Sol, 17:55; 12. Elijah Jedlicki, Sol, 18:00; 13. Ridge Conant, Sew, 18:03; 14. Wesley Johnson, Sol, 18:05; 15. Tait Ostrom, Hom, 18:07; 16. Jody Goodrich, Hom, 18:18; 17. Levi Mickelson, Sol, 18:21; 18. Zane Tews, Ken, 18:35; 19. Chase Laker, Ken, 18:51; 20. Olin Liljemark, Sew, 19:26; 21. Martin Fink, Sew, 20:14; 22. Alex Fink, Sew, 20:14; 23. Logan Cartwright, Ken, 20:18; 24. William Roberts, Ken, 20:41; 25. Eli Brigham, Nik, 21:14; 26. Robert Carson, Ken, 21:16.