Mariner girls finish 3rd, boys 10th in XC meet

By McKibben Jackinsky

Staff writer

At the Tsalteshi Invitational in Soldotna Saturday — the biggest cross-country event of the season, second only to state competition — the Homer High School Mariner varsity girls raced to an impressive third place team finish and the boys claimed a solid 10th place.

“They did pretty good,” said Head Coach Bill Steyer. “Both teams are strong.”

The runners’ finish times gave Steyer plenty of reason to brag.

Of Homer’s seven varsity girls running in a field of 108, sophomore Megan Pitzman was the first Mariner across the line, finishing sixth with a time of 19:25.4. Less than a minute later, junior Molly Mitchell crossed the line in 16th place with a time of 19:45.8.

“Megan was smoking. She’s just a super athlete,” said Steyer. “Molly was a little sore after last week in Nikiski. She couldn’t even walk down stairs until Thursday. So that was a bad run for Molly, but she’ll be back.” 

Mitchell said she pushed too hard on the hilly course at the Nikiski Invite on Aug. 18, hoping to achieve her personal goal of a less than 20-minute finish time. Instead, she finished in 21.26, placing third in competition against other 11th– and 12th-grade girls.

“That was more intense than I’d done in a very long time,” she said.

It wasn’t until Thursday, when the discomfort from that exertion finally passed, that she was able to focus on the Tsalteshi event. 

In the boys varsity competition, with 117 boys running, Homer’s Jared Brant and Jordan Beachy finished 43rd and 44th with times of 17:41.4 and 17:44.51. The third Mariner varsity runner, Jacob Davis, finished 51st in 17:55.7.

“We were competing against Colony and West Anchorage with more than 100 kids on their teams,” said Steyer. “Those are big schools.”

Team size is no excuse, however, said Steyer, focusing instead on the Mariner’s hard work and commitment and the success the team is experiencing this early in the year.

With the Tsalteshi Invitational only the second meet of the season, Steyer anticipates the Mariner girls’ biggest competitor will be Seward, a 3A school like Homer. 

“For the boys, I think it will be against Seward, Grace and Anchorage Christian,” he said. “We’ll be the underdog against those three teams, but these (Homer) boys are going to steadily improve.” 

Seward was one of the few schools not at the Tsalteshi Invitational, having just competed in a four-team meet in Anchorage the day before. 

Next up for cross country is the Homer Invite at 3:30 p.m. Friday. Seven teams will be competing. Most of them are from the Kenai Peninsula; however, Seward will not be present. The one non-peninsula team at the invite will be Eagle River.

“We’ll be duking it out with Kenai and Soldotna,” said Steyer. “They are really closely matched this year.”

Mitchell, who dabbled in running in middle school, but didn’t begin taking it seriously until her sophomore year at Homer High, said this year’s cross country team is “really great,” and she is inspired by the number of talented freshmen that have turned out for cross country.

“We definitely have freshmen that will help build the team and the spirit is going to be even stronger,” said Mitchell. “They’re getting really fast really quickly, too, which is exciting.”


Tsalteshi Invitational

Skyview, Aug. 23
 5,000 meter

Girls varsity team results: 1. Colony, 95; 2. West Anchorage, 102; 3. Homer, 110; 4. Soldotna, 115; 5. Kenai Central, 124; 6. South Anchorage, 170; 8. Eagle River, 189; 9. Chugiak, 208; 10. Service, 218; 11. Kodiak, 259; 12. Grace Christian, 316; 13. Dimond, 340; 14. Palmer, 349; 15. Bethel, 427; 16. Nome-Beltz, 451.

Girls varsity individual results (Homer): 6. Megan Pitzman, 19:25.4; 16. Molly Mitchell, 19:45.8; 11. Aurora Waclawski, 20:13.1; 33. Alex Mosley, 20:31.7; 40. Ziza Shemet-Pitcher, 20.49.1; 41. Jalee Martushev, 20:50.1; 60. Audrey Rosencrans, 21:36.4.

Girls junior varsity team results (teams of a minimum five runners): 1. Colony, 38; 2. West Anchorage, 67; 3. South Anchorage, 68; 4. Eagle River, 81; 5. Service, 126; 6. Dimond, 156; 7. Grace Christian, 189; 8. Kachemak Selo, 251.

Girls junior varsity individual results (southern Kenai Peninsula): 18. Rachel Seneff, Homer, 22:31.8; 33. Audrey Russell, Homer, 23:19.7; 39. Haley Knott, 23:41.5; 60. Megan Hickman, 24:32.6; 84. Leonida Polushkin, Kachemak Selo, 25:49.8; 131. Kelina Polushkin, Kachemak Selo, 30:58.0; 138. Rosie Reutov, Kachemak Selo, 32:03.9; 139. Iraida Reutov, Kachemak Selo, 32:36.0; 149. Ustina Chernishoff, Kachemak Selo, 37:15.4; 

Boys varsity team results: 1. West Anchorage, 85; 2. Kodiak, 86; 3. South Anchorage, 98; 4. Wasilla, 129; 5. Service, 140; 6. Kenai Central, 162; 7. Colony, 181; 8. Palmer, 228; 9. Grace Christian, 239; 10. Homer, 293; 12. Chugiak, 297; 13. Dimond, 320; 14. Eagle River, 344; 15. Soldotna, 403; 16. Houston, 426; 16. Nome-Beltz, 468; 18. Bethel, 544.

Boys varsity individual results (Homer): 43. Jared Brant, 17:41.4; 44. Jordan Beachy, 17:44.1; 51. Jacob Davis, 17:55.7.

Boys junior varsity team results (teams of a minimum five runners): 1. West Anchorage, 33; 2. South Anchorage, 53; 3. Bartlett, 83; 4. Service, 117; 5. Dimond, 179; 6. Colony, 186; 7. Grace Christian, 215; 8. Kodiak, 218; 9. Soldotna, 261; 10. Chugiak, 327; 11. Eagle River, 328; 13. Wasilla, 355; 14. Palmer, 374; 15. Su Valley, 412; 16. Houston, 526.

Boys junior varsity individual results (southern Kenai Peninsula): 39. Greg Trail, Nikolaevsk, 19:12.6; 68. Nick Gilliam, Homer, 20:01.3; 96. Elan Carroll, Homer, 20:33.7; 126. Jonah Fefelov, Nikolaevsk, 21:16.0; 165. Jay Mason Davis, Homer, 22:17.8; 216. German Kalugin, Kachemak Selo, 24:35.6;