Hard times hit Kenai Central runners — again

Miles Knotek from Seward High School starts the Alaska School Activities Association/First National Bank Alaska 2011 Cross Country Running Championship near the middle of the pack. Knotek won the small-schools event at Bartlett High School in Anchorage on Saturday.

At the ASAA First National Bank Cross-Country State Championships in Anchorage on Saturday, Kenai Central High School had people stationed all over the five-kilometer course in case Bailey Beeson collapsed as she did last weekend.


Beeson ran past them all.

But despite an early lead, Allie Ostrander, a freshman that had dominated the competition all season and was the race favorite, collapsed where her mom, Teri Ostrander, was waiting near the fourth kilometer. Then Allie stood back up, and walked the final kilometer of the race.

Ostrander had been passed at the 3.5-kilometer mark by eventual champion Megan Edic of Lathrop.

"She just got really cold and she did not have a chance to warm up," said Kenai coach D'Anna Gibson. The girls Class 4A race was delayed by 15 minutes - crucial time in which Ostrander got colder.

Gibson said she was proud of Ostrander for making it to the finish line. Ostrander walked the final kilometer of the race, and was disqualified.

Gibson said the officials told her that Ostrander was disqualified for receiving assistance, and for having pacing the last portion of the race as her teammates accompanied her.

Immediately after Ostrander finished, medics checked Ostrander, gave her fluids and wrapped her in blankets, and then escorted her away from the trail. She walked into the awards ceremony less than an hour later on her own two feet.

The week after a stressful Region III meet that saw Beeson collapse at the three-kilometer mark and leave the course in an ambulance, the girls' show of solidarity after all the adversity brought Gibson to tears.

"We're a good team," she said.

Other Kenai Peninsula highlights at the meet included a first-place finish from Seward's Miles Knotek in the Class 1-2-3A boys race and a fourth-place finish for Soldotna's Bree Mucha in the Class 4A girls race.

Knotek, a junior, said he was happy with his finish of 16 minutes, 23 seconds. He said the hardest part was the hills about four kilometers into the race.

Knotek just kept thinking, "You gotta do it, you gotta do it."

Coach Dan Marshall said that's what he was hoping for from his top runner.

"Miles had to run smart and he had to pick the places in the race when he could use his strengths," Marshall said.

Knotek's strength, not surprisingly for the reigning junior boys Mount Marathon champion, was the hills.

"Miles executed the race plan," Marshall said.

Marshall said the entire Seward team ran hard and ran well.

Marshall said his Nos. 2 and 3 runners, Matthew Moore and Michael Marshall, also had strong runs and kept with the team's race plan.

"Our goal for [Moore] was to pick up some of those guys ... and he was there."

Marshall was looking for Michael Marshall to stick with the Grace Christian School runners, which he did. Even so, the Grace girls and boys defended their team titles.

"I'm just very happy with the way it came out," Marshall said.

The Seward boys and Seward girls each took third place as a team for Class 1-2-3A, a particularly strong showing given that both teams had a number of young runners, Marshall said.

Marshall said the girls team started strong, and gained speed throughout the race.

The coach said Meg Berry ran a personal record and everyone looked strong on the course.

"Alice Pfeiffenberger, Laura Dryer, Isabel Barnwell, Josephine Braun, were just beautiful," he said.

Pfeiffenberger had the team's top finish, coming in 14th. She said she was just focusing on the runner ahead of her, until she passed her. Then she focused on the next runner. As a freshman, it was her first time at state.

She was just "running and being with my friends and trying to get a good time," she said.

Marshall noted that two of the team's seniors, Catie Zweifel and Maggie Herbert, were especially positive.

"They stopped twice to help two girls," Marshall said.

Mucha, a senior at Soldotna High School, finished the large-schools race in 18:54, a personal record. Mucha finished in at least the top 11 in all four of her years at state.

"I was hoping for top 10 and I'm still in shock that I got top five," she said. "That made my whole entire senior year."
Mucha wasn't the only central peninsula runner to get a personal best Saturday.

Kenai's Courtney Stroh raced her best time of the season after coming up from junior varsity to compete at the state level. She said she started the race thinking she might finish last.

"I actually had my best time of this whole season and I did not come in last," she said.

The Bartlett High School trails are known for being a tough, hilly course. But Stroh said the real challenge was her fallen teammate.

"It was really hard for everyone, I think," Stroh said.
Gibson said she had told the girls they needed to keep running if Beeson collapsed.

She wasn't expecting Ostrander to be the one on the ground. In fact, she had penciled her in to win. But, she said, she didn't think this will stop the freshman runner.

"I think this is definitely just a little blip," Gibson said.

Taylor Ostrander, a Kenai senior and Allie's sister, said she was proud of the whole Kenai team.

"Our team ran with no regrets today," the elder Ostrander said.

Kenai's Noelle Schmitter-Schrier agreed.

"We've had an incredible team and they've all touched my life," Schmitter-Schrier said.

Their coaches were at the root of that, teaching them to appreciate the good races and the bad ones, Schmitter-Schrier said.

"Our coaches for sure motivated us all year long, made such a difference," she said.

Gibson credited the lone Kenai male runner - Fox Michaud - with helping the girls have a good day. Michaud led the peninsula by finishing 15th.

"For him to be there was just awesome," Gibson said. "I think that really helped set the tone for the girls."

The sophomore said it was a great run.

"It felt good," he said.

He was surprised, but pleased, to beat Skyview competitor Micah Hilbish, who was 22nd.

"I'm just astonished," Michaud said.

He said the hills were hard, particularly at the end of the race.

"I just kept my eye on [Micah] and eventually passed him," Michaud said.

Hilbish, also a sophomore, said the finish was a difficult one. He was joined by one other Skyview runner - junior Sam Janorschke - at the state competition.

Their coach, Ted McKenney, said it was a faster race than the smaller competitions held throughout the season.

"It's just a tough, hilly race," he said. "Great weather, a lot of fast times."

Both runners have at least another season ahead of them, and McKenney said the race would just get added to their running knowledge for the future.

"You learn to run, and then you learn to race," he said.

Saturday was about learning to race, McKenney said.

Ostrander, Kenai's fallen runner, is also still learning to race. Gibson said the freshman will have more chances to run at the state meet.

Gibson said that Ostrander went down around the four-kilometer mark. She was not at the site, but said Ostrander's mom was there and said she was dizzy. Gibson described it as "running in s's," and attributed it to the cold temperatures.

At the awards ceremony following the run, Kenai's Noelle Schmitter-Schrier was honored with one of the Good Sport awards. She took the microphone and honored Allie's strong and graceful finish to a strong season.

"It was really, really touching," Schmitter-Schrier said of her teammate.

Taylor Ostrander said Schmitter-Schrier's brief speech was appreciated by the whole family.

"What she said meant a lot to our family," Ostrander said.

ASAA First National Bank Cross-Country State Championships
at Bartlett Running Trails
Class 1-2-3A
Team scores: 1. Grace Christian, 38; 2. ACS, 74; 3. Seward, 82; 4. Sitka, 110; 5. Delta, 130; 6. Bethel, 130; 7. Craig, 193; 8. Mt. Edgecumbe, 199; 9. Nome, 202.
Individual five-kilometer results
1. Miles Knotek, Sew, 16 minutes, 23 seconds; 2. Andrey Ionashku, Del, 16:32; 3. Niko Friedman, Sit, 16:41; 4. John Klein, Gra, 16:58; 5. Matthew Moore, Sew, 17:10; 6. Daniel Serventi, Gra, 17:15; 7. Austin Monzon, ACS, 17:27; 8. Ivan David Isaacs, Gra, 17:31; 9. Hans Karlberg, Gra, 17:33; 10. Samuel Rew, Kla, 17:35.
Other peninsula finishers
18. Michael Marshall, Sew, 17:56; 38. Jacob Marshall, Sew, 18:38; 39. Tannen Berry, Sew, 18:40; 67. Brandon Moore, Sew, 19:25; 74. Dylan Gillespie, Sew, 19:38; 79. Blake Klaich, Niko, 19:57; 94. Eric Mametieff, Niko, 20:40.
Class 4A
Team scores: 1. Service, 51; 2. West Valley, 78; 3. Kodiak, 97; 4. Juneau, 126; 5. Lathrop, 127; 6. Palmer, 163; 7. Chugiak, 177; 8. Colony, 194; 9. West Anchorage, 197; 10. South Anchorage, 217; 11. Wasilla, 222.
Individual five-kilometer results
1. Kuba Grzeda, WV, 16:01; 2. Max Romey, Ser, 16:04; 3. David Francis, Jun, 16:07; 4. Cole Christiansen, Kod, 16:08; 5. Mason Minturn, Pal, 16:29; 6. Levi Thomet, Kod, 16:40; 7. Garth Schultz, Ser, 16:41; 8. Jesse Miller, Jun, 16:44; 9. Lucas Schlemme, Ser, 16:44; 10. Tal Nrovell, Jun, 16:46.
Peninsula finishers
15. Fox Michaud, Ken, 16:58; 22. Micah Hilbish, Sky, 17:13; 25. Dan Adicke, Hom, 17:18; 62. Sam Janorschke, Sky, 18:03.
Team scores: 1. Grace, 20; 2. Sitka, 97; 3. Seward, 99; 4. Eielson, 134; 5. Mt. Edgecumbe, 142; 6. Craig, 143; 7. Bethel, 172; 8. Nome, 178; 9. ACS, 192; 10. Galena, 252.
Individual five-kilometer results
1. Elle Arnold, Gra, 19:25; 2. Kailey Wilson, KL, 19:26; 3. Rosa Schmidt, Nom, 19:58; 4. Bethanne Davis, Gra, 19:59; 5. Macala Fifield, Mon, 19:59; 6. Claire Trujillo, Gra, 20:10; 7. Cheyenne Applegate, Gra, 20:15; 8. Mickey Murtiff, Eie, 20:20; 9. Anna Trujillo, Gra, 20:28; 10. Tessa Wygant, KL, 20:30.
Peninsula finishers
14. Alice Pfeifenberger, Sew, 21:13; 19. Laura Dyer, Sew, 21:42; 28. Isabel Barnwell, Sew, 22:19; 42. Josephine Braun, Sew, 23:10; 66. Meg Berry, Sew, 24:09; 81. Kilina Klaich, Niko, 25:01; 100. Maggie Herbert, Sew, 28:52; 101. Catie Zweifel, Sew, 28:58.
Class 4A
Team scores: 1. Wasilla, 61; 2. West, 80; 3. South Anchorage, 98; 4. Lathrop, 132; 5. Eagle River, 133; 6. Kenai, 162; 7. West Valley, 163; 8. Kodiak, 163; 9. Dimond, 214; 10. Juneau, 224; 11. Palmer, 234.
Individual five-kilometer results
1. Megan Edic, Lat, 18:38; 2. Lydia Blanchet, West, 18:41; 3. Audrey Michaelson, Col, 18:45; 4. Bree Mucha, Sol, 18:54; 5. Jenette Northey, Ser, 18:57; 6. Grace Graham, Eas, 19:01; 7. Brooke Lizotte, Lat, 19:05; 8. Mariah Burroughs, Was, 19:17; 9. Hannah Stevens, ER, 19:24; 10. Sarah Freistone, Dim, 19:25.
Other peninsula finishers
14. Bailey Beeson, Ken, 19:43; 28. Hope Steffensen, Ken, 20:15; 32. Taylor Ostrander, Ken, 20:19; 37. Danielle McCormick, Sol, 20:32; 44. Noelle Schmitter-Schrier, Ken, 20:47; 76. Courtney Stroh, Ken, 22:27; 86. Carolyn Kiefer, Ken, 23:43.



Peninsula runners head north for Anchorage Mayor’s Marathon

Several Kenai Peninsula runners traveled north for the Anchorage Mayor’s Marathon and Half-Marathon on Saturday.

Read more

Twins suffer 3 losses in Anchorage

The American Legion Twins fell in a doubleheader sweep Saturday to cap a winless weekend road trip.

Read more