Allie Ostrander of Kenai Central cruised to another easy victory in Saturday’s Kenai Peninsula Borough cross-country championships at the Tsalteshi Trails at Skyview, winning with a time of 18 minutes, 2 seconds.
Seward’s Miles Knotek took the boys title with a time of 16:57, only 11 seconds ahead of runner-up Jordan Theisen of Kenai.
A steady rain fell all day and led to challenging conditions for the runners, with many downhill portions slick with mud, and a number of racers losing their footing.
“Today was kind of challenging because you had to be really aware of your footing and where you were stepping,” Ostrander said. “Going down some hills, there were some on a corner, and I would come to a mud spot and have to change my path.”
The course was the same layout from a few weeks ago at the Skyview Invite, save for a small loop that was added at the top of the hill at the beginning of the course.
“The downhills were kind of scary, I didn’t want to go all-out on them, but our varsity boys used 5/8-inch spikes, so we kept traction for the most part,” Theisen said. “I knew that it was going to be really slippery, and I almost fell on a corner,” Knotek said. “(Teammate) Matthew Moore fell, I was just trying to take it easy with all the downhills. I slipped once and almost went down, but I kept it.”
While the girls race was all but decided from the beginning, as Ostrander won with a 1:48 margin of victory over teammate Hope Steffensen, it was quite a different story in the boys race.
Both Jordan and Jonah Theisen were battling for the lead at the halfway mark, but it was Knotek who managed to appear out of the woods with less than a kilometer left and cross the line first.
“Right around 3K or a little bit after, the Theisens were leading and I came up on them,” Knotek said. “They were tough.”
As one of the fastest runners in the state, Knotek has the luxury of holding back and pouncing with a late surge.
“I don’t usually have a plan before races, I just go out and run them, but I think Miles had a strategy,” Jordan Theisen said. “He always ends up making his move further into the race, but at the 3K mark he started pulling ahead really fast, and it was surprising. He’s just too fast, he’s a good runner.
“I kind of heard that Seward might have been planning something, so I was watching my back the whole time.”
The Kenai boys won the team title with a low score of 32 points, placing four runners in the top 10, and topped Seward, which had three runners in the top 10.
While Ostrander led her teammate Steffensen to a 1-2 finish for Kenai in the girls race, it was Soldotna that ran away with team title, placing five runners in the top 10, with sophomore Dani McCormick leading the way with a third-place finish.
With only two races left in the cross-country season, Ostrander acknowledges that there are still a number of fast runners in the state that she will have to contend with, naming Brooke Lizotte from Lathrop and Audrey Michaelson from Colony as examples, but said the right strategy will help with her individual races and with the Kenai girls team.
“Our coach told us that if we have a big lead on the person behind us, to not push it and just coast to the end, so that’s what Hope and I did today,” she said.
Saturday at Tsalteshi Trails
1. Soldotna, 31 points; 2. Kenai Central, 53; 3. Homer, 56; 4. Seward, 87. Unscored schools: Nikolaevsk.
1. Allie Ostrander, Ken, 18:02; 2. Hope Steffensen, Ken, 19:51; 3. Dani McCormick, Sol, 20:25; 4. Olivia Hutchings, Sol, 20:29; 5. Sadie Fox, Sol, 20:55; 6. Aurora Waclawski, Hom, 21:23; 7. Barae Hirsch, Hom, 21:24; 8. Laura Dyer, Sew, 21:31; 9. Hannah Pothast, Sol, 21:47; 10. Rachel Thomas, Sol, 21:50; 11. Emily Werner, Sol, 22:05; 12. Rebecca Seneff, Hom, 22:05; 13. Alice Pfeiffenberger, Sew, 22:20; 14. Pam Jantzi, Hom, 22:43; 15. Courtney Stroh, Ken, 22:47; 16. Alex Bergholtz, Ken, 22:53; 17. Valerie Mastolier, Hom, 22:54; 18. Sakota Mitchell, Hom, 23:19; 19. Beverly Schindler, Ken, 23:50; 20. Lindsey Kromrey, Sew, 24:12; 21. Andi Reilly, Ken, 25:03; 22. Megan Hickman, Niko, 25:55; 23. Brooke Estes, Sew, 26:01; 24. Sarah Wynkoop, Sol, 26:57; 25. Audra Atwood, Sew, 27:21; 26. Emily Brockman, Sew, 27:49; 27. Laura Kromrey, Sew, 28:13.
1. Kenai Central, 32 points; 2. Seward, 51; 3. Homer, 58; 4. Skyview, 85; 5. Soldotna, 124. Unscored schools: Nikiski, Nikolaevsk.
1. Miles Knotek, Seward, 16:57; 2. Jordan Theisen, Ken, 17:08; 3. Jonah Theisen, Ken, 17:12; 4. Matthew Moore, Sew, 17:26; 5. Connor McCarron, Hom, 17:27; 6. Pedro Ochoa, Hom, 17:30; 7. Fox Michaud, Ken, 17:32; 8. Nate Mole, Ken, 17:36; 9. Michael Marshall, Sew, 17:38; 10. Micah Hilbish, Sky, 17:47; 11. Sam Janorschke, Sky, 18:09; 12. Quincy Fuller, Ken, 18:15; 13. Josh Vantrease, Hom, 18:24; 14. Dillon Jensen, Sol, 18:26; 15. Brenner Musgrave, Sky, 18:26; 16. Jake Worsfold, Hom, 18:28; 17. Tannen Berry, Sew, 18:28; 18. Brandon Beachy, Hom, 18:35; 19. Aaron Swedberg, Sol, 18:39; 20. Paxson Berry, Sew, 18:42; 21. Dustin Everitt, Ken, 18:51; 22. Travis Cooper, Ken, 18:56; 23. Brandon Moore, Sew, 19:04; 24. Kade Cooper, Sky, 19:07; 25. Daniel Schuler, Sky, 19:13; 26. Kyle Austin, Sky, 19:14; 27. Keith Ivy, Sew, 19:15; 28. Blake Klaich, Niko, 19:27; 29. John Walsworth, Hom, 19:47; 30. Jared Wallis, Nik, 19:49; 31. Luke Michael, Sol, 20:04; 32. Colton Diehl, Sol, 20:10; 33. Coltin Yancey, Sky, 20:49; 34. Eric Mametieff, Niko, 21:09; 35. Mike Olsen, Nik, 21:11; 36. Daniel Lewis, Sol, 22:05; 37. Michael Hollinger, Nik, 22:06; 38. Frank Holub, Niko, 22:49.