Members of the Homer girls cross-country ski team pose with their first place award for the small schools division for the state skiing championship meet held in Fairbanks, Alaska the weekend of Feb. 22-23, 2019. (Photo courtesy Alison O’Hara)

Members of the Homer girls cross-country ski team pose with their first place award for the small schools division for the state skiing championship meet held in Fairbanks, Alaska the weekend of Feb. 22-23, 2019. (Photo courtesy Alison O’Hara)

Homer girls, Salzetti earn small-schools honors at state skiing

Kenai Central senior Maria Salzetti earned first-place honors among small-schools skiers Friday at the state ski meet at Birch Hill in Fairbanks, while the Homer girls were the top small-schools team when the meet wrapped up with relays Saturday.

The second day of the three-day meet featured freestyle skiing with a mass start. The girls did 7.5 kilometers and Salzetti led all small-schools finishers by taking 22nd overall at 27 minutes, 44 seconds. Homer’s Autumn Daigle was the second small-schools skier, taking 28th in 28:19.

The race was won by West Valley’s Kendall Kramer — also the skimeister — in 23:37, while West won the team battle.

Salzetti also led all peninsula finishers in Friday’s race and in the skimeister standings, which total Thursday’s classic and Friday’s race. The senior also was the top small-schools athlete on the skimeister roll, though there is not an official award for that.

“She’s just super pumped,” Kenai Central coach Brad Nyquist said. “She’s kind of flying high right now.

“She’s worked so hard for four years. She trains in the offseason. She’s an all-around hard-working kid academically and athletically, and it’s nice to see it all come to fruition.”

Salzetti headlined a day that had Nyquist and Soldotna assistant coach Dan Harbison very pleased with their skiers. The day broke cold but blossomed into excellent racing on the hilly tracks at Birch Hills.

“My kids are just finding a groove,” Nyquist said. “They haven’t had a lot of racing and they’re getting into the idea of what racing is.

“There’s more quick tempo and they’re pushing themselves into that hurt a little bit.”

Nyquist said his girls team got great leadership from Salzetti and senior Mickinzie Ticknor, who was 65th. Then Kenai had four freshmen in Summer Foster (55th), Leah Fallon (58th), Gabriella Tewes (77th) and Elizabeth Moffett (85th). Nyquist said Foster and Fallon had their strongest skate races of the year. Kenai was 12th in the team times.

Soldotna again bunched its finishers with Katie Delker in 39th, Hannah Delker in 40th, Erika Arthur in 45th, Isabella Dammeyer in 48th, Sonora Martin in 51st and Cameron Blackwell in 70th. The SoHi girls were 11th, while Homer was ninth.

“We’re really happy with what our girls accomplished up here,” Harbison said. “Maybe we didn’t catch Homer, and that was one of our goals, but the Homer girls are really good, and we’re happy for them.”

The coach said both the Delkers had outstanding races, while Dammeyer probably had her best race ever. Arthur recovered for a solid finish after crashing during the race.

In addition to Daigle, Homer received a 38th from Zoe Stonorov, 42nd from Katia Holmes, 54th from Brita Restad, 69th from Sienna Carey and 70th from Aiyana Cline.

Sadie Lindquist led Seward in 53rd, while Lucy Hankins was 85th for the Seahawks.

In the boys 10-kilometer freestyle, the SoHi boys had another adventurous and successful day. Success came from Jeremy Kupferschmid leading the peninsula in the skimeister standings at 28th, and Bradley Walters leading the peninsula in the mass start at 28th after a frustrating Thursday caused by a broken binding.

South’s Zanden McMullen — also the skimeister — won the 10K in 25:56, while Walters was at 30:09. West Valley was the top team.

SoHi was 10th as a team even with Lance Chilton breaking his binding in a crash. He managed for a kilometer before he got a ski that was a foot longer than his other ski.

“The boys were having a great race until it all went south,” Harbison said. “They hung together and in the end did really well.”

Kupferschmid was 32nd while Jack Harris — who also crashed — was 46th. Harbison said Joseph Dammeyer did a great job putting in a big effort to move up after Chilton crashed. Foster Boze stuck on Dammeyer’s tail and passed him at the end. Boze was 61st, while Dammeyer was 66th. Chilton came back to finish 68th.

Nyquist headed north with a young boys team of juniors Joshua Foster (62nd) and Tristan Summers (65th), and freshmen Tyler Hippchen (59th), Nathan Haakenson (63rd), Samuel Roberts (76th) and Johann Carranza (scratch with illness). Kenai was 14th.

The coach was especially impressed with the races of Hippchen and Haakenson and said all of the freshmen boys are really stepping it up. After breaking a ski Thursday, Roberts had the misfortune of breaking a pole strap Friday.

For Seward, Cody Bryden was 71st while Clay Petersen was 79th and Sam Paperman was 81st. Andy Super was 73rd for Homer.

Saturday again saw sun and pleasant temperatures for Fairbanks, with the air at about 10 degrees at race time.

The Homer girls finished ninth in the three-day team totals, with West taking the title. The Mariners really shined in Saturday’s 4-by-3-kilometer relay, with the first two legs classic and the second two legs freestyle.

The team of Holmes, Restad, Stonorov and Daigle finished seventh at 41:27, while West won at 36:36. The result had Mariners head coach Alison O’Hara smiling at the end of the day.

“(Restad) had a fabulous race, possibly her best race ever,” O’Hara said. “And Autumn looked like she could’ve done another four laps.”

O’Hara said while the Homer boys team did not have enough racers to form a complete varsity team, she hopes the weekend experience will attract more athletes to the program for future years.

“We’re all super excited, and these guys worked so hard,” O’Hara said. “They totally deserve it. We have a very small team but our top four girls are all so solid, and other small-school teams have a top one or two skier, but we just have four that are super solid.”

Soldotna’s team of senior Hannah Delker and sophomores Martin, Arthur and Katie Delker was 10th at 41:39.

“The girls just had a spectacular race today,” Harbison said. “They closed the gap significantly on Palmer and Homer. It still wasn’t enough and they ended up 10th, but the gap was very narrow.”

The coach said the race was the best of both worlds, with Hannah Delker going out strong and the sophomores getting great race experience.

“The problem was they missed lots of big races this year because we didn’t have them due to weather,” Harbison said. “They miss out on the longer distances, and that begins to affect your training.”

The Kenai girls team of Ticknor, Summer Foster, Fallon and Salzetti was 13th at 44:46.

The Soldotna boys were 10th in the three-day team totals but moved up to eighth in the relay. West Valley won both the three-day team time and the relay.

The Stars had been plagued by misfortune due to gear malfunctions and crashes the first two days.

“Each one of them had a really good race and there were no mishaps at all,” Harbison said. “We finally got to see what they could actually do.”

The coach said it was nice to see senior Kupferschmid go out with a solid leg, while juniors Chilton, Harris and Walters got valuable inspiration for the future.

The Kenai boys team of Josh Foster, Roberts, Summers and Hippchen was 14th, matching their finish in the three-day team times.

ASAA/First National Bank Nordic Ski Championship results

GIRLS

3-day team totals: 1. West, 3:26:54; 2. West Valley, 3:30:58; 3. Service, 3:32:05; 4. Eagle River, 3:49:39; 5. South, 3:50:34; 6. Palmer, 3:57:15; 7. Colony, 3:59:34; 8. Dimond, 4:00:06; 9. Homer, 4:03:42; 10. Soldotna, 4:05:06; 11. Grace, 4:11:21; 12. Lathrop, 4:12:16; 13. Kenai, 4:18:34; 14. Bartlett, 5:27:24.

Skimeister: 1. Kendall Kramer, WV, 39:05; 2. Garvee Tobin, Ser, 41:18; 3. Ivy Eski, Wes, 41:44; 4. Aubrey LeClair, Wes, 41:46; 5. Adrianna Proffitt, Chu, 42:37; 6. Quincy Donley, Wes, 43:03; 7. Annika Hanestad, Col, 43:06; 8. Annie Gonzales, Wes, 43:43; 9. Emma Jerome, WV, 43:43; 10. Katey Houser, Pal, 44:08.

Peninsula finishers: 1. Maria Salzetti, Ken, 47:28; 31. Autumn Daigle, Hom, 48:06; 38. Zoe Stonorov, Hom, 49:43; 40. Hannah Delker, Sol, 50:10; 41. Katie Delker, Sol, 50:28; 42. Katia Holmes, Hom, 50:43; 44. Erika Arthur, Sol, 51:27; 47. Isabella Dammeyer, Sol, 51:59; 49. Sonora Martin, Sol, 52:15; 53. Sadie Lindquist, Sew, 53:32; 54. Brita Restad, Hom, 53:43; 62. Cameron Blackwell, Sol, 54:53; 63. Summer Foster, Ken, 55:15; 74. Mickinzie Ticknor, Ken, 55:22; 68. Leah Fallon, Ken, 55:42; 69. Sienna Carey, Hom, 55:45; 70. Aiyana Cline, Hom, 56:13; 80. Gabriella Tewes, Ken, 1:01:26; 83. Elizabeth Moffett, Ken, 1:05:19; 85. Lucy Hankins, Sew, 1:06:01.

BOYS

3-day team totals: 1. West Valley, 4:30:12; 2. South, 4:31:20; 3. Chugiak, 4:32:39; 4. West, 4:33:57; 5. Service, 4:36:31; 6. Dimond, 4:51:12; 7. Lathrop, 4:53:21; 8. Grace, 5:03:22; 9. Colony, 5:05:08; 10. Soldotna, 5:05:40; 11. Eagle River, 5:09:33; 12. Palmer, 5:10:30; 13. East, 5:27:09; 14. Kenai, 5:41:41; 15. Bartlett, 6:34:06.

Skimeister: 1. Zanden McMullen, Sou, 48:10; 2. Everett Cason, Wes, 49:34; 3. Michael Earnhart, Chu, 50:41; 4. Kai Meyers, Sou, 50:41; 5. Alexander Maurer, Ser, 50:47; 6. Eric DiFolco, WV, 51:50; 7. Joseph Walling, Pal, 52:56; 8. Jonathan Burrell, Lat, 53:12; 9. Joel Power, Ser, 53:23; 10. Max Beiergrohslein, Chu, 53:27.

Peninsula finishers: 28. Jeremy Kupferschmid, Sol, 56:52; 41. Bradley Walters, Sol, 59:16; 47. Jack Harris, Sol, 1:00:12; 57. Foster Boze, Sol, 1:03:31; 60. Joshua Foster, Ken, 1:04:59; 63. Joseph Dammeyer, Sol, 1:05:27; 64. Tyler Hippchen, Ken, 1:06:22; 66. Lance Chilton, Sol, 1:07:02; 67. Clay Petersen, Sew, 1:07:43; 68. Nathan Haakenson, Ken, 1:07:45; 70. Tristan Summers, Ken, 1:08:21; 73. Cody Bryden, Sew, 1:09:01; 77. Andy Super, Hom, 1:10:15; 79. Samuel Roberts, Ken, 1:12:51; 81. Sam Paperman, Sew, 1:15:15.

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