The Region 2 and Region 3 cross-country running championships were held at Tsalteshi Trails behind Skyview Middle School on Saturday, gathering runners from around the Kenai Peninsula and beyond to vie for spots at the state meet next weekend.
Four varsity races were held. First, the Division II girls varsity race for both regions, then the Division I race for Region 3. The boys’ races followed the same setup: Division II for both regions and then Division I for Region 3.
Region 2 does not have any peninsula teams. Region 2 joined with Region 3 for this meet just for the experience of competing against a lot of runners. Although the two regions ran in the same Division II race, they were scored separately.
For Division I, the top three teams go to state, alongside the top 15 finishers individually.
The top three Division I teams advancing are, for the girls, champion Colony with 26 points, Soldotna with 38 points and Kodiak with 79 points. For the boys, Colony won with 19 points, Kodiak had 61 and Wasilla had 83 and won a tie with Palmer.
The top four teams and the top 15 finishers from each region go to state for Division II.
The top four Division II teams advancing are, for the girls, champion Homer with 44 points, Seward with 47 points, Grace Christian with 56 points and Redington with 87 points. For the boys, Grace Christian won with 27 points, Homer had 55, ACS had 75 and Kenai had 84.
Junior Hailey Ingalls, of Seward, claimed the first-place finish for the Region 3/Division II girls with a time of 20 minutes, 12 seconds.
“It’s a tough course, but I had a lot of fun,” Ingalls said after winning her first region crown.
She said she held roughly the same position for most of the race, after pulling ahead following the first kilometer.
With state looming next weekend, Ingalls said she was focused on good recovery and preparation.
Second place for the division was claimed by Kenai senior Jayna Boonstra, who finished 22 seconds later at 20:32.
Boonstra said her only focus was qualifying for state, where she was won titles the past two years. Boonstra also won regions the last two years.
“I’ve been sick for the past week, and it’s a tough race,” she said. “I just need to get healthy and look forward to state.”
Ahead of state, Boonstra said the next week is going to be all about getting the rest she needs.
“So I’m ready to go for the big day,” she said.
In the next race, SoHi freshman Sophia Jedlicki cleared the finish nearly 30 seconds ahead of her competition. Her time was 19:36.
“I’m gonna be able to go to state!” Jedlicki said after the race.
She said the week ahead will be about practice and rest to be ready for the bigger competition next weekend.
Next into the finish chute was Colony sophomore Ella Hopkins, who finished at 20:03 and said her state preparations would include rest, fun with her teammates, and her faith.
For the boys race, Homer senior Seamus McDonough was very narrowly beaten out by Grace Christian senior David Sliwinski, who won the region and state titles last season. As the two made the final push to the finish, McDonough was ahead, but Sliwinski managed to pull out the win.
Sliwinski finished 15:50, McDonough was 15:51.
“I went out trying to win,” McDonough said after the race. “I didn’t really care much about the time.”
McDonough said he treated regions as a test ahead of state, a chance to try out strategies.
“My strategy today was to sit on the back of the leader,” he said.
He said the final push against Sliwinski was something of a surprise, even to him.
“He was kind of pulling away toward the start of the race, and I gave up mentally. But as soon as I hit 100 meters away, my body decided not to give up. My brain didn’t control it, but I started going and I passed him,” McDonough said. “But he had another little burst that I wasn’t prepared for.”
McDonough said his confidence was unshaken.
“I know exactly what I need to do,” he said.
With a smile, he said he couldn’t say what that is, because it’s a secret.
“I’m feeling good about this race,” he said. “At state I’m gonna go all out.”
The final race of the day was very handily won by senior Matthew Rongitsch, of Colony, with a lead of 35 seconds. He finished at 15:56.
Rongitsch was followed by two other Colony Knights, Zac Cheyette at 16:31 and Tobias Buchanan at 16:44, filling all three top spots.
He said the race was “a killer, the hills here are always hard.”
“My speed and my time was awesome,” Rongitsch said. But he said that he didn’t feel great physically, his chest felt tight.
Perhaps for that reason, Rongitsch said he wasn’t feeling confident about state, but he said he was feeling excited.
“I really want to put it all down,” he said. “Just make sure that my legs are in good shape and I don’t let the brain get to me, I should be good.”
In addition to all the runners qualifying as a part of peninsula teams, also qualifying as individuals were Kenai’s Emilee Wilson by taking third in the Division II girls race, Seward’s Trevor Guernsey by taking 14th in the Division II boys race and Soldotna’s Jacob Strausbaugh by taking 12th in the Division I boys race.
State Championships will be Saturday at Bartlett High School.
Region 3 meet
Saturday at Tsalteshi Trails
Girls Division I
Team Scores: 1. Colony, 26; 2. Soldotna, 38; 3. Kodiak, 79; 4. Palmer, 100
State Qualifiers: 1. Sophia Jedlicki, Soldotna 19:36; 2. Ella Hopkins, Colony 20:03; 3. Morgan Ainsworth, Colony 20:27; 4. Tania Boonstra, Soldotna 20:44; 5. Stella Rose, Colony 21:44; 6. Annie Burns, Soldotna 21:47; 7. Kinley Bruno, Wasilla 21:48; 8. Shea Alaniva, Colony 21:53; 9. Abigail Harver, Kodiak 22:00; 10. Lucy Shea, Colony 22:04; 11. Alder Deal, Palmer 22:07; 12. Rachel Danz, Colony 22:07; 13. Madison Roberts, Colony 22:19; 14. Kaytlin McAnelly, Soldotna 22:51; 15. Delanie Wagers, Soldotna 22:54
Other Peninsula Finishers: 17. Megan Whittom, Soldotna 23:22; 21. Laurel Johnson, Soldotna 23:51
Girls Division II
Team Scores: 1. Homer, 44; 2. Seward, 47; 3. Grace Christian, 56; 4. Redington, 87; 5. Anchorage Christian, 119
State Qualifiers: 1. Hailey Ingalls, Seward 20:12; 2. Jayna Boonstra, Kenai Central 20:34; 3. Emilee Wilson, Kenai Central 21:25; 4. Mya Campbell, Redington 21:35; 5. Daisy Walker, Homer 21:42; 6. Tagan Rinner, Grace Christian 22:02; 7. Ella Boerger, Grace Christian 22:13; 8. Aly Guernsey, Seward 22:20; 9. Claira Booz, Homer 22:23; 10. Eryn Field, Homer 22:24; 11. Elena Badajos, Homer 22:26; 12. Katie Vanbuskirk, Seward 22:28; 13. Faith Carter, Anchorage Christian 22:35; 14. Maddie Haas, Seward 22:39; 15. Rebekah Annett, Grace Christian 22:45.
Other Peninsula Finishers: 19. Frida Renner, Homer 23:51; 20. Juniper Ingalls, Seward 23:52; 23. Natalie Sieminski, Seward 24:13; 24. Beatrix McDonough, Homer 24:16; 27. Stella Dow, Seward 24:36; 28. McKenna Black, Homer 24:54; 30. Mya Taylor, Kenai Central 26:13
Boys Division I
Team Scores: 1. Colony, 19; 2. Kodiak, 61; 3. Wasilla, 83; 4. Palmer, 83; 5. Soldotna, 117
State Qualifiers: 1. Matthew Rongitsch, Colony 15:56; 2. Zac Cheyette, Colony 16:31; 3. Tobias Buchanan, Colony 16:44; 4. Fischer Adams, Palmer 17:12; 5. Jayden Rice, Colony 17:20; 6. Aceton Edgerton, Wasilla 17:24; 7. Maxwell Robinson, Kodiak 17:25; 8. Coby Marvin, Colony 17:26; 9. Tobin Miller, Palmer 17:27; 10. Miles Grimes, Kodiak 17:29; 11. Stephen Hafen, Wasilla 17:37; 12. Jacob Strausbaugh, Soldotna 17:40; 13. Jacob Sarnowski, Kodiak 17:45; 14. Caleb Hilty, Colony 17:47; 15. Bengt Anderson, Kodiak 17:51
Other Peninsula Finishers: 24. Elijah Jedlicki, Soldotna 18:48; 25. Jonathan Gordon, Soldotna 18:50; 27. Levi Mickelson, Soldotna 18:57; 29. Noble Cassidy, Soldotna 19:12; 30. Andrew Cox, Soldotna 19:24; 33. Alexander Dammeyer, Soldotna 19:40
Boys Division II
Team Scores: 1. Grace Christian, 27; 2. Homer, 55; 3. Anchorage Christian, 75; 4. Kenai Central, 84; 5. Redington, 138
State Qualifiers: 1. David Sliwinski, Grace Christian 15:50; 2. Seamus McDonough, Homer 15:51; 3. Preston Merchant, Anchorage Christian 16:11; 4. Gregory Fallon, Kenai Central 16:29; 5. Robbie Annett, Grace Christian 16:31; 6. Seth Lochmann, Grace Christian 16:34; 7. Colton Merriner, Grace Christian 16:41; 8. Simon Nelson, Grace Christian 16:43; 9. Lance Seneff, Homer 17:20; 10. Geremu Daggett, Grace Christian 17:35; 11. Lukas Underhile, Anchorage Christian 17:42; 12. Stryder Kronberger, Anchorage Christian 17:50; 13. Theodore McDonough, Homer 17:56; 14. Trevor Guernsey, Seward 18:06; 15. Hunter Finch, Grace Christian 18:17
Other Peninsula Finishers: 16. Jai Badajos, Homer 18:26; 17. Ethan Styvar, Homer 18:50; 18. Jonah Mershon, Homer 18:54; 19. Zane Tews, Kenai Central 18:55; 20. Chase Laker, Kenai Central 19:12; 21. Jody Goodrich, Homer 19:35; 22. Robert Carson, Kenai Central 19:38; 23. Logan Cartwright, Kenai Central 19:39; 25. Olin Lijlemark, Seward 20:30; 30. Cooper Darling, Kenai Central 21:37; 32. August Jaeger, Kenai Central 21:45