Molly Mitchell is the Mariner’s lead runner on the girls varsity team. -Photo by McKibben Jackinsky, Homer News

Molly Mitchell is the Mariner’s lead runner on the girls varsity team. -Photo by McKibben Jackinsky, Homer News

XC girls take first, boys tie for second

With the Kenai Mountains as a backdrop and Kachemak Bay to their left and right, high school cross-country runners from Kachemak Selo, Nikiski, Nikolaevsk, Soldotna and Homer took to the Spit Trail on Saturday in a 5K Homer invitational. 

Homer’s varsity girls claimed a first-place team finish. A first-place tie on the boys side, which takes into consideration the finishing times of the top five runners of each team, was decided by the finishing time of the sixth-place runner and that boosted Kenai into the lead, with Homer taking second.

“There was a little bit of a delay with the results and Homer didn’t realize it was a tie and went to the sixth-runner,” Homer Mariner Head Coach Bill Steyer said on Sunday. “The boys will be surprised when they hear this and realize how important that sixth place runner is in a tie-breaker.”

Daniel Shuler of Soldotna was the first-place finisher for the boys, crossing the finish line in 17:00.11. Right at his heels was Homer’s Jordan Beachy, in second place with a time of 17:16.95.

Molly Mitchell was Homer’s first varsity girl to cross the finish line and in second place overall. She had a time of 18:50.06. 

“Molly went fast,” said Steyer of the Homer High School junior’s race.

In first place, Soldotna’s Olivia Hutchings finished in 18:04.14. Mariner Lauren Evarts, finishing eighth overall and fifth for Homer in 20:11.47, sealed Homer’s first-place team win.

“She really stepped up and had a stand-out performance that was a key for our team as the fifth runner,” said Steyer.

After competing in a few community runs with her mom, Fran, Evarts began running in school as a third-grader at West Homer Elementary School. She continued to compete as a middle school student and began running with the Mariner team last year as a freshman at Homer High.

“Running kind of puts me in a relaxing zone,” said Evarts. “It’s not easy and you definitely have to work for it, but it’s worth it.”

As a sophomore, her goal was to beat her personal record from last year, 20:40.

“I did that yesterday,” Evarts told the Homer News on Sunday. “I saw on the timer that it was a little more than 20, so I was kind of excited about that.”

Another running goal of Evarts is to compete in a marathon, a distance of 26.2 miles.

“I’ve run the half marathon a few times, so I’m hoping to do a full one,” said Evarts who has competed for the past several years at the Midnight Sun Mayor’s Marathon in Anchorage. “That’s a nice run.” 

After Saturday’s race, her new goal as a Mariner XC athlete is to break a 5K time of 20 minutes sometime in the next two years. With regions and state competition coming up, this might be the year Evarts pushes to that new PR.

“I think we’re going to do really well,” said Evarts of Homer’s finish at upcoming regions and state. “I’m hoping that we can place first in both meets. I think it’s possible for us to do that.”

Between now and then, Evarts said Mariner XC runners are making sure they “eat healthy and get enough rest. In practices, we’re actually tapering so we’re not doing as much just so we can relax and make sure we don’t get injured.”

Judging from the close finish times on Saturday, Steyer said it could very well come down to the fifth-, sixth- and even eighth-place finishing times to decide the season’s outcome.

“The group that made the difference for us were the third-, fourth- and fifth-place runners. They won the race for us. Mission accomplished,” he said of Saturday’s results. “The championships at regions and state could very well come down to that. It’s that close.”

Evarts looks to Steyer to keep the team focused.

“He’s really good,” she said. “He knows how to push us and he knows how to make us meet our potential.”

Nikolaevsk’s three varsity runners also took part in the Saturday race. Greg Trail took ninth place with a time of 18:22.86 and his teammate Jonah Fefelov finished 16th with a time of 20:33.63. Running for the varsity girls was Megan Hickman, who crossed the finish line in 29:23.94.

“(Hickman) had a very frustrating day on Saturday as she continued to battle shin splints,” said Nikolaevsk Head Coach Steve Klaich. “(Fefelov) recorded his season best time and looks to improve on that next week at the Region II meet in Su-Valley.”

Trail also had an outstanding run, achieving “a personal best 5K time and (he) was thrilled,” said Klaich. “I look for him to push the top Region II runner, Jordan Sondergaard of Glennallen, and finish in the top two in the region. We might even see an upset at the top. (Trail) is motivated and running well.”

Region competition is held Saturday at Kodiak. State competition is Oct. 4 at Bartlett High School in Anchorage.

McKibben Jackinsky can be reached at


Homer Invite XC 2014

Spit Trail – Sept. 20

Team results (girls): 1. Homer, 25; 2. Soldotna, 30.

Individual varsity results for southern Kenai Peninsula (girls): 2. Molly Mitchell, Homer, 18:50.06; 4. Megan Pitzman, Homer, 19:42.91; 5. Aurora Waclawski, Homer, 19:55.73; 6. Alex Mosley, Homer, 19:59.89; 8. Lauren Evarts, 20:11.47; 11. Ziza Shemet Pitcher, Homer, 20:31.53; 13. Audrey Rosencrans, Homer, 21:16.17; 15. Megan Hickman, Nikolaevsk, 29:23.94; 

Team results (boys): 1. Soldotna, 28; 2. Homer, 28

Individual varsity results for southern Kenai Peninsula (boys): 2. Jordan Beachy, Homer, 17:16.95; 4. Jared Brant, Homer, 17:44.62; 5. Brandon Beachy, Homer, 17:49.46; 6. Jacob Davis, Homer, 17:50.48; 9. Greg Trail, Nikolaevsk, 18:22.86; 12. Denver Waclawski, Homer, 18:51.75; 13. Jaime Rios, Homer, 19:07.89; 14. Elan Carroll, Homer, 19:19.51; 16. Jonah Fefelov, Nikolaevsk, 20:33.63; 18. German Kalugin, Kachemak
Selo, 22:19.06.

the Mariner team’s fifth-place finisher, Lauren Evarts, secures the team’s first place. -Photo by McKibben Jackinsky, Homer News

the Mariner team’s fifth-place finisher, Lauren Evarts, secures the team’s first place. -Photo by McKibben Jackinsky, Homer News

More in Sports

Soldotna junior Liam Babitt holds a grip on South Anchorage’s Britten Hamilton during the 215-pound final of the Lancer Smith Fall Varsity 2021 Invite on Saturday, Nov. 18, 2021 at the Menard Arena in Wasilla, Alaska. (Photo by Jeremiah Bartz/Frontiersman)
Soldotna crowns 4 champions at Lancer Smith

The Soldotna wrestling team finished fourth Friday and Saturday at the Lancer… Continue reading

Ice sits ready to skate at Bottenintnin Lake in the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska on Nov. 1, 2020. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Tangled Up in Blue: Skipping skating

I was looking forward to ice skating this winter. I had bought… Continue reading

Fall colors, a dog and game in hand make for great outdoor experiences on the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge. (Photo by Colin Canterbury/USFWS)
Refuge Notebook: On point this fall

His eyes were fixated on the white spruce before us. We knew… Continue reading

Mariner's Micah Williamson steals the puck from the Warrior's Karson McGrew as he advances down the rink. (Photo by Sarah Knapp/Homer News)
Hockey roundup: West wins End of Road tourney

End of the Road Tournament The West hockey team won the End… Continue reading

Sports in brief

Hockey Upcoming meets: 5 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 18: Kenai vs. West, End… Continue reading

Alaska Olympic Development Program 2008 boys team featuring Gunnar Pinsky, Beau Miller and Kai Waltenbaugh (Photo provided by Breanna Hill)
Homer soccer players compete on Alaska Olympic Development team

Seven Homer soccer players are making their national and international debut after… Continue reading

Homer’s Gracie Gummer goes up for a kill against Kenai blockers Calani Holmes and Emma Beck during the 3A state volleyball consolation game at the Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage, Alaska, on Saturday, Nov. 13, 2021. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai takes 2nd, Homer nabs 3rd at state volleyball

The Kenai Kardinals volleyball team fell narrowly to the Valdez Buccaneers in… Continue reading

Kenai Central’s Ayden Spann skates the puck across the blue line during a 4-1 loss to Colony during the second day of the 2021 Alaska Army National Guard Stars and Stripes Showdown on Friday, Nov.12, 2021, at the MTA Events Center in Palmer, Alaska. (Photo by Jeremiah Bartz/Frontiersman)
Kenai, SoHi, Homer finish up play at Stars and Stripes

The Homer and Soldotna hockey teams finished with 1-2 records at the… Continue reading

A Soldotna Stars wrestler goes for the pin against a Homer Mariners wrestler during the Best Western Bidarka Round Robin Rumble on Friday and Saturday in Homer. (Photo by Sarah Knapp/Homer News)
Soldotna wrestlers win Round Robin Rumble

The Soldotna wrestling team cruised to the team title in the Best… Continue reading

Most Read