Kenai Central sophomore Allie Ostrander stormed to another win at the Skyview Invitational on the Tsalteshi Trails on Saturday afternoon.
Ostrander’s time of 17 minutes, 37 seconds, bettered her time of 17:53 from last year, although the course layout this year was slightly changed.
The finishing stretch was moved from the familiar long, lazy downhill sprint to what is known as Collin’s Climb, closer to where the race starts, and the final 400 meters is spent on the ballfields grass leading up to the finish. According to Skyview athletic director Kent Peterson, the course had a few loops changed and was slightly less hilly.
“I think that I went a little slower in the beginning and that really helped me, because last week I was like 10 seconds too fast on each of the first two kilometers, but this week it helped me to maintain a better pace through the race,” Ostrander said. “I actually thought I was behind pace but I ended up getting a PR by 15 seconds.”
Whether or not the course change helped or hurt her time, Ostrander’s domination was nevertheless impressive. The petite runner opened up a 10-second gap on the field by the time they rounded the initial uphill, and only widened it from there.
“I always think there is someone behind me, even on the Wolf trail, I was looking back and thinking there must be someone,” Ostrander said. “I’m always focusing on just giving it my all every race, and I do focus on my best times.”
Because the course has had slight changes throughout the years, there is no way in telling what the course record may be, but Ostrander’s efforts definitely belong in the discussion.
“That’s what drives me to do better, is thinking about my last time,” she said. “I’m really competitive, even with the boys on my team, just trying to beat them.”
The Wasilla girls won the team title with a low score of 63 points, aided by two runners in the top 10. West Anchorage finished second in team standings with 73 points.
The Kenai girls varsity team was comprised of only two members — Ostrander and teammate Hope Steffensen — and therefore did not qualify enough athletes to be ranked in the team standings.
Steffensen ran an impressive race as well, notching a seventh-place finish with a time of 19:14.
“That really was not where I wanted to be, but this is a deeper field, and every race is different, and I know I gave the best I had today, so now I can’t wait for next week,” Steffensen said.
Steffensen said she had been fighting a illness the previous week that might have led to reduced energy and overall fatigue.
“I was a bit worn out there, but I just kind of follow Allie at the start, because most people just get out of her way,” Steffensen said. “I usually try to stay with the same pack but I fell behind today.”
Sophomore Dani McCormick was the leading girl for Soldotna, finishing 24th in 20:10. She led a close pack of teammates across the line, with sophomore Sadie Fox finishing 29th at 20:19, and freshman Olivia Hutchings 32nd with a time of 20:27.
“It was really hot the whole time, I was feeling it,” McCormick said. “I could’ve gone faster, because I feel like I was just spacing out and I know I could have made it under 20 minutes.”
In the boys race, Kodiak swept the top two spots, with Levi Thomet winning in a time of 16:11, and teammate Cole Christiansen finishing one second behind.
Miles Knotek of Seward led Peninsula runners with a third-place finish, completing the course in a time of 16:17, very near to what he ran last year.
“Levi and Cole were way the heck back there towards the third kilometer, so they were obviously mixing it up,” Knotek said. “It’s a new course, and I don’t think it’s been run this way before.”
Knotek said he was mixing it up at the front of the pack with Service runner Gilly Szweda-Mittelstadt when the two Kodiak runners roared past into the lead with about a kilometer left.
“On the third kilometer, we started moving up, and we caught the lead pack about the fourth kilometer,” Thomet said.
Even with both Kodiak runners finishing up front, they were not fully satisfied with the team finish, saying they had a plan to hold back early and surge to the front late. Both Thomet and Christiansen said the team tried implementing a strategy in which the team’s seventh runner went out ahead of the pack early in the race, in an attempt to quicken the pace, but mostly to place a number of Kodiak runners up front.
“We wanted to get him up there, because right now, West Valley is ahead of us, and we want to win state,” Thomet said. “We want to give them a run for their money. But at the end, we just wanted to take 1-2 at that point.”
“The plan didn’t work,” Christiansen said. “Our guys didn’t move up with us. We have two new guys from JV that are up here, and it’s too big of a field, and we didn’t get out fast enough.”
Even Homer’s top boys finisher, junior Pedro Ochoa, noticed the plan while racing. Ochoa finished 20th with a time of 16:59.
“I was looking out for the fast kids, but they tricked us, because they were reeling me in,” Ochoa said. “I was waiting for them to reel them in, but they reeled me in. They were lying back the first mile before they kicked it in.”
Kenai Central’s top finisher was sophomore Jonah Theisen, finishing 21st and only fractions of a second behind Ochoa.
“I was running right next to the Kodiak guys in the beginning, and I was thinking that something here isn’t right,” Theisen said.
Service took the boys team title by a wide margin, capturing a low score of 46 points, compared to runner-up Kodiak’s 103 points.
As for using the strategy in future races, Thomet said the team does not plan on doing it.
GIRLS TEAM SCORES
1. Wasilla, 63 points; 2. West Anchorage, 73; 3. Grace Christian, 77; 4. East Anchorage, 131; 5. Kodiak, 174; 6. South, 175; 7. Dimond, 187; 8. Eagle River, 201; 9. Soldotna, 206; 10. Service, 207; 11. Chugiak, 209; 12. Homer, 256; 13. Palmer, 353; Other incomplete teams: Seward, Holy Family Academy, Kenai Central, Su Valley.
1. Allie Ostrander, Ken, 17:37; 2. Jenette Northey, Ser, 18:50; 3. Grace Graham, Eas, 18:50; 4. Hannah Stevens, ERi, 19:00; 5. Mariah Burroughs, Was, 19:03; 6. Rachel Roelle, Wes, 19:05; 7. Hope Steffensen, Ken, 19:14; 8. Jenna Ford, Was, 19:24; 9. Tsaina Mahlen, Sou, 19:25; 10. Colette Ohotnicky, HFA, 19:27.
Other Peninsula finishers
24. Dani McCormick, Sol, 20:10; 29. Sadie Fox, Sol, 20:19; 32. Olivia Hutchings, Sol, 20:27; 37. Aurora Waclawski, Hom, 20:48; 40. Barae Hirsch, Hom, 20:56; 45. Laura Dyer, Sew, 21:07; 55. Hannah Pothast, Sol, 21:30; 64. Pam Jantzi, Hom, 22:09; 65. Ziza Pitcher, Hom, 22:09: 68. Rebecca Seneff, Hom, 22:17; 70. Valerie Mastolier, Hom, 22:21; 85. Emily Werner, Sol, 23:45; 89. Mattea Peters, Hom, 25:12.
BOYS TEAM SCORES
1. Service, 46 points; 2. Kodiak, 103; 3. Grace, 160; 4. West, 161; 5. South, 165; 6. Chugiak, 188; 7. Dimond, 194; 8. Seward, 200; 9. Kenai Central, 206; 10. Wasilla, 277; 11. Palmer, 278; 12. East, 280; 13. Homer, 281; 14. Eagle River, 306; 15. Skyview, 390; 16. Bartlett, 447; 17. Soldotna, 463; 18. Nikolaevsk, 569; Other incomplete teams: Su Valley, Anchorage Christian, Houston, Nikiski.
1. Levi Thomet, Kod, 16:11; 2. Cole Christiansen, Kod, 16:12; 3. Miles Knotek, Sew, 16:17; 4. Gilly Szweda-Mittelstadt, Ser, 16:19; 5. Chris Osiensky, Pal, 16:23; 6. John Farr, Eas, 16:26; 7. Garth Schulz, Ser, 16:33; 8. Levi Fried, Kod, 16:35; 9. David McPhetres, Chu, 16:37; 10. Austin Monzon, ACS, 16:37.
Other Peninsula finishers
18. Matthew Moore, Sew, 16:55; 20. Pedro Ochoa, Hom, 16:59; 21. Jonah Theisen, Ken, 16:59; 32. Fox Michaud, Ken, 17:13; 33. Connor McCarron, Homer, 17:13; 34. Jordan Theisen, Ken, 17:13; 36. Micah Hilbish, Sky, 17:15; 37. Michael Marshall, Sew, 17:17; 50. Nate Mole, Ken, 17:35; 55. Josh VanTrease, Hom, 17:44; 69. Dillon Jensen, Sol, 18:10; 71. Brandon Moore, Sew, 18:13; 79. Dustin Everitt, Ken, 18:29; 80. Tannen Berry, Sew, 18:30; 82. Sam Janorschke, Sky, 18:34; 83. Travis Cooper, Ken, 18:34; 84. Aaron Swedberg, Sol, 18:34; 89. Brenner Musgrave, Sky, 18:44; 90. Jake Worsfold, Hom, 18:46; 92. Quincy Fuller, Ken, 18:49; 94. Brandon Beachy, Hom, 18:55; 95. Kade Cooper, Sky, 18:59; 98. Dylan Gillespie, Sew, 19:02; 101. Luke Michael, Sol, 19:07; 102. Francisco Brown-Novarro, Sky, 19:11; 103. John Walsworth, Hom, 19:11; 107. Blake Klaich, Niko, 19:20; 108. Shayne Miller, Sol, 19:22; 113. Shuler Daniel, Sky, 19:52; 114. Alex Pahno, Sew, 19:55; 122. Justice Miller, Sol, 20:33; 123. Mike Olson, Nik, 20:58; 124. Michael Hollinger, Nik, 21:07; 125. Jared Wallis, Nik, 21:30; 126. Nicetas Lasiter, Niko, 21:36; 127. Greg Trail, Niko, 21:37; 128. Jonah Fefelov, Niko, 22:06; 129. Frank Holub, Niko, 22:08; 130. Eric Mametieff, Niko, 22:29; 131. Tanner Best, Sol, 23:07.