Mariner JV runner Audrey Russell pushes to the finish of Friday’s Homer Invitational.-Photo by McKibben Jackinsky, Homer News

Mariner JV runner Audrey Russell pushes to the finish of Friday’s Homer Invitational.-Photo by McKibben Jackinsky, Homer News

Homer girls, SoHi boys take No. 1 spots in Homer Invite

Eight schools, 115 runners and a bright sun and blue sky overhead. A great combination for the Homer Invitational on Friday, a cross-country meet with boys and girls varsity and junior varsity competitions.

Homer Mariner girls and SoHi Star boys took first place in team points. In second place, the results flipped with Homer boys and SoHi girls in second.

“They did good, really good,” said Head Coach Bill Steyer of the Mariners’ performance.

Mariner Megan Pitzman took first place in the varsity girls competition, crossing the finish line in 20:07.61. Homer’s Jared Brant was the first varsity boy to complete the course, finishing third in 17:49.59. In JV girls competition, first-place finisher Lauren Evarts of Homer came in more than a minute ahead of the second-place runner with a time of 22:44.5. For the JV boys, Elan Carroll was the first Mariner across the line, finishing in fourth place with a time of 20:50.7.

“We had some pretty outstanding performances. They’re pretty high achievers, all of them,” said Steyer of the Mariner team.

At this point in training for the cross-country season, however, the Mariners are pushing hard to increase their times.

“They’re just at the cycle in their training where they’re a little tired,” said Steyer. “We’re not trying to peak right now. This is the hardest part of our training.”

That said, Pitzman had an “outstanding run” and freshman Jalee Martushev, who finished 10th, “had a strong run, a great run,” said Steyer. “And, of course, (Mitchell’s) solid. She’s got a much better time in her, but she’s a really hard worker and has been training hard since last March.”

Mitchell, a junior, finished in sixth place.

On the boys’ side of the competition, Steyer credited Brant for “an outstanding race” and Davis for a “really strong” finish.

Although he ran JV at the Homer Invitational, Carroll had a top-seven time, which means the freshman will be running varsity this week. Evarts will move to the girls varsity team. 

Next week the team heads north for back-to-back meets. On Friday, they run in the Anchorage Christian School’s 3K challenge and go on to Palmer on Saturday for a “really big meet.”

“Even though they’re back-to-back, our goal is to really race the Palmer meet and not race the ACS meet hard. We’ll use it as training,” said Steyer.

Overall, Steyer said the Mariners are “doing good. The girls are rocking. The boys are going to be noticed.”

Nikolaevsk’s Greg Trail took 19th place in the boys varsity competition, finishing in 19:26.69.

“(He) is an outstanding junior runner,” said Nikolaevsk Head Coach Steve Klaich. “He ran in junior high and this is his third year as a high school runner.”

Running in junior varsity for Nikolaevsk was Jonah Fefelov, finishing 12th with a time of 21:49.2. In the girls junior varsity, Megan Hickman finished ninth with a time of 24:27.34.

Lacking a track or pedestrian trails, Klaich and his runners “keep it interesting by changing the location, routes, direction and hills. Muddy conditions can affect location as well. We can run on grass, pavement, dirt trails, back roads as well as head up the ridge behind Nikolaevsk.”

Next weekend, Nikolaevsk also will be at the ACS 3K on Friday and in Palmer on Saturday.

“The team is training with an eye on their goal of a successful Region II meet at Su-Valley on Sept. 27,” said Klaich.

Looking toward the future, he is keeping his eye on talent and enthusiasm among junior high cross-country runners at Nikolaevsk.

“The running future of Nikolaevsk is bright,” said Klaich.

Also among the out-of-towners participating in the Homer Invite were runners from Unalaska, with Ross Enlow taking first place in the boys varsity competition, finishing in 17:49.59. Four girls from Unalaska ran in the varsity girls race, finishing in 23rd, 24th, 25th and 26th

McKibben Jackinsky can be reached at




Homer Invitational

Homer High School – Aug. 29


Boys varsity team results (minimum 5 runners): Soldotna, 31; Homer, 55; Eagle River, 117.


Boys varsity individual results (southern peninsula): 3. Jared Brant, Homer, 18:07.08; 6. Jorden Beachy, Homer, 18:40.03; 7. Jacob Davis, Homer, 18:42.51; 9. Brandon Beachy, Homer, 18:59.02; 13. Greg Trail, Nikolaevsk, 19:26.69; 14. Denver Waclawski, Homer, 19:29.16; 16. Jaime Rios, Homer, 19:47.40; 22. John Juan Sarmiento, Homer, 20:59.68  


Boys junior varsity individual results (southern Kenai Peninsula): 4. Elan Carroll, Homer, 20:50.07; 5. Nick Gilliam, Homer, 20:52.8; 7. Hoxie Parks, Homer, 21:09.8; 12. Jonah Fefelov, Nikolaevsk, 21:49.2; 13. Jay Mason Davis, Homer, 22:02.9; 22. Aaron Taliesen, Homer, 24:20.4; 24. Jake Marquardt, Homer, 25:32.9; 27. German Kalugin, Kachemak Selo, 26:13.4;  


Girls varsity team results (minimum 5 runners): Homer, 36; Soldotna, 44; Eagle River 54.


Girls varsity individual (southern peninsula): 1. Megan Pitzman, Homer, 20:07.61; 6. Molly Mitchell, Homer, 21:13.72; 7. Aurora Waclawski, Homer, 21:23.25; 10. Jalee Martushev, Homer, 21:40.77; 12. Ziza Shemet Pitcher, Homer, 21:47.35; 18. Alex Mosley, Homer, 22:29.93; 19. Audrey Rosencrans, Homer, 22:51.93; 


Girls junior varsity individual results (southern Kenai Peninsula): 1. Lauren Evarts, Homer, 22:44.5; 2. Haley Knott, Homer, 23:43.15; 3. Rachel Seneff, Homer, 23:49.92; 5. Audrey Russell, Homer, 24:14.86; 9. Megan Hickman, Nikolaevsk, 24:27.34; 29. Ustina Chernishoff, Kachemak Selo, 40:15.01; 

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