From snow to rain to snow to rain…and so it went at Saturday’s XC relay on the Lookout Mountain ski trails above Homer. In spite of an early brush with winter, however, two four-runner teams of Homer Mariner girls took first and second place in the varsity competition. In the boys’ varsity race, Skyview took first, one Homer team took second place. In the junior varsity race, Nikolaevsk secured first place.
“The trail was slippery in places,” said Homer High Head Coach Bill Steyer. “It was tough for the kids to stay warm.”
The solution for the 55 varsity and junior varsity runners from Nikiski, Nikolaevsk, Skyview and Homer was to keep moving. The four runners of each team had plenty of opportunities for that. Each runner completed the hilly one-mile course once and then did it a second time.
“It was a fun format, a great opportunity for athletes to focus on speed before entering the championship phase of the season,” said Steyer.
The relay also was an opportunity for the Mariners to see how they stacked up against each other.
“I divided up my boys and girls varsity teams such that they would be equally competitive against each other,” said Steyer.
Homer’s boys varsity Team 1 included Nahoa Jette, Brandon Beachy, Josh Vantrease and Elias Graham. Team 2 combined the running speeds of August Kilcher, Pedro Ochoa, Jared Brant and Dakota Alward.
The Mariner girls varsity Team 1 included Molly Mitchell, Megan Pitzman, Lauren Evarts and Shenandoa Lush. Team 2 combined Aurora Waclawski, Ziza Shemet Pitcher, Pam Jantzi and Audrey Rosencrans.
The boys junior varsity competition highlighted coed teams from Homer, Nikolaevsk, Nikiski and Skyview. Two teams combined Nikiski and Skyview runners. The winning Nikolaevsk coed team combined Jonah Fefelov, Megan Hickman, Nicetas Lasiter and Greg Trail. Skyview was the only entry in the girls junior varsity competition.
“The Nikolaevsk cross country team has been working hard and is seeing the benefit, primarily times dropping and finishes faster,” said Nikolaevsk Coach Steve Klaich. “They are hard workers and have logged many miles on various types
Klaich said Nikolaevsk’s speed is exactly where it should be at this point of the season.
“Meet results early in the year were not what we were wanting, but now are improving greatly,” he said. “We are peaking at the right time with the Region II meet at Su-Valley (High School in Talkeetna) on Sept. 28.
I attribute the times to hard work, improving technique and conditioning work on the hills near Nikolaevsk.”
Feedback Steyer has received from the visiting schools has been “generally pretty good, but, as you know, the weather was not great. But such is cross country and athletes must be prepared for these types of conditions: wind, rain, cold, etc.”
Saturday, the Mariners compete in Region at Seward. The XC season wraps up Oct. 5 with state competition at Bartlett in Anchorage.
McKibben Jackinsky can be reached at email@example.com.
Ski Trails, Sept. 21
Junior varsity girls team: 1. Skyview, 1:22:37.
Junior varsity boys team: 1. Nikolaevsk, 55:35; 2. Nikiski-Skyview, 55:57; 3. Skyview, 59:19; 4. Skyview, 1:00:15; 5. Homer, 1:00:36; 6. Nikiski-Skyview, 1:14:58.
Varsity girls team: 1. Homer Team 2, 58:58; 2. Homer Team 1, 1:00:38.