Saturday was a great day for young Homer runners, but it was especially sweet for sophomore Autumn Daigle, who claimed first place for the Division II women at the weekend’s ASAA First National Bank Alaska Cross-country State Championships in Anchorage.
Daigle powered through a surprise finish where she passed leader Ruby Linquist of Seward with only meters to go and finished the 5-kilometer race at Bartlett High School in 19 minutes, 30 seconds, 5 seconds ahead of Linquist’s time of 19:35. She became Homer’s first-ever state championship runner to win first place.
“I’m so surprised at myself,” Daigle told the Peninsula Clarion in the finishing area on the Bartlett football field.
Daigle led several other lady Mariner runners who powered through the trails course and helped push the Homer girls team to second place overall in the championships with 58 points. The team fell short of its fourth championship crown in a row by just once point — Grace Christian School claimed the top spot with 57 points. Seward High School also tied with the Homer girls for second place.
Head Coach Annie Ridgely said a lot of her runners had been working hard throughout the summer to stay in shape, and credited the assistant coaches, parents and community members who contributed to their success.
“I think it takes a community, and we drew upon that,” she said.
From the Kachemak Bay Running Club sponsoring a youth running program this summer to highly accomplished runners in the community visiting with the team, Ridgely said help and support came to the students from all sides.
The Homer boys team faired equally well at Saturday’s meet, also coming in second for the Division II teams with 67 points. Anchorage Christian School clinched the Division II state championships title with 60 points. Had the Homer boys taken first place, it would have been the second year in a row.
Senior Jacob Davis was the first Homer runner across the 5-k finish line in 16:42, taking fourth place overall for the men.
Ridgely said this was a building season for the team, and that a lot of people didn’t think there would be a strong cross-country team this year. She said she realized early on that setting high standards would help her runners surpass anticipations for the season.
“The higher the expectations the higher they’ll rise,” she said. “And they did.”
Homer girls individual 5-k results:
1. Autumn Daigle, 19:30; 4. Brooke Miller, 20:09; 9. Alex Moseley, 20:37; 18. Sienna Carey, 21:45; 34. Katie Davis 22:55; 39. Shine Carey 23:12; 66. Harmony Davidson, 24:12.
Homer boys individual 5-k results:
4. Jacob Davis, 16:42; 6. Luciano Fasulo 16:46; 14. Jordan Beachy 17:22; 20. Denver Waclawski 17:43; 30. Bill Rich 18:02; 48. Clayton Beachy 18:26; 65. Dexter Lowe 18:56.
For full results from the state championship meet, see the weekly sports highlights.