The 2013 edition of the Kenai Peninsula Borough high school cross-country championships featured an odd twist on Tuesday at the Tsalteshi Trails behind Skyview High.
There were two varsity races — which are used as a test run in preparation for the region and state championships in the coming weeks — took off at the sound of the gun, but two streams of runners finished separately in the finishing chute, as the field split into two halves about one kilometer into the race. One group of runners completed a 3-kilometer course, and another group ran a 5K course.
The split races were a result of two sides that could not come to a compromise over which distance the borough races should be. The host school, Kenai Central, settled on a 3K distance, but other schools wished to race a traditional 5K.
In the end, two courses were laid out and the teams were told to pick a distance. Kenai, Homer and Skyview chose the 3K, and Soldotna (along with a few individuals from Seward and Nikiski) chose the 5K.
Junior Allie Ostrander took her usual spot at the front of the field in the 3K girls varsity race, winning in a time of 10 minutes, 38 seconds, almost 90 seconds ahead of Homer’s Megan Pitzman. The Homer girls took the team title by placing five runners in the top six.
“This is kind of a test run, and since it was a 3K, I had to run it at a harder pace,” Ostrander said. “I think I had too much left out there since it was a shorter race.”
Ostrander mentioned that she believes Homer has a shot to win the girls 1-2-3A state championship on October 5 at Bartlett. At the Skyview Invite a few weeks ago, the squad place fifth among the top schools in the state.
“They’re really strong right now, and I think they got a shot,” she said.
Homer coach Bill Steyer said he was pleased with his team’s results on Tuesday, and said running the shorter 3K course allowed for the runners to work on their speed training.
“It brings out the best in them, since it’s a shorter race,” Steyer said. “It meets my expectations.”
Steyer said before the season’s first race that he was looking forward to seeing how the Homer girls team would stack up against bigger competition, especially with the younger members the Mariners have. Pitzman — Tuesday’s second-place finisher — is only a freshman, and so is sixth-place finisher Lauren Evarts. Aurora Waclawski, Molly Mitchell and Ziza Shemet-Pitcher are all sophomores that finished in the top five.
The Soldotna girls dominated the longer event, but it wasn’t that difficult since they comprised the entire 5K field.
Nevertheless, the top four of Olivia Hutchings, Dani McCormick, Daisy Nelson and Sadie Fox represent a SoHi girls team that not only won the 3,200-meter relay at the 4A State Track and Field Championships last May, but finished third earlier this season at the Skyview Invite, behind only powerhouse schools West and South Anchorage. Hutchings’ time of 19:39 was only two seconds off the time she recorded in the Skyview Invite over three weeks ago, while Nelson improved her Skyview Invite time by a whopping 1:31.
On Tuesday, the top four all finished within 28 seconds of each other, which means they continue to improve on placing a lot of runners high up in the results.
“We’re looking really good right now,” said SoHi coach Dan Harbison. “We’re going to be neck-and-neck with Homer at the region meet.”
In the boys 3K race, the top three finishers of Jonah and Jordan Theisen from Kenai and Pedro Ochoa from Homer fought it out in a tightly-contested race that finished with Jonah getting the better of his brother by 3.1 seconds. The 1-2 finish allowed Kenai to lock up the boys team title.
“It was a fast course, and I just got an adrenaline rush at the end,” Jonah said about his kick in the final kilometer. “I feel like I’m peaking at the right time.”
The Soldotna boys dominated the results in the boys 5K race, leading to the boroughs team title, and every one of them lopped off time from their previous best. Sophomore Levi Michael erased an impressive 1:54 from his Skyview Invite time to finish third, and Aaron Swedberg took off 23 seconds on his time to garner a runner-up result.
The race itself was won by Michael Marshall from Seward in a time of 17:34. Marshall’s performance on Tuesday was 40 seconds faster than what he ran on the same course over three weeks ago.
3K Team scores — 1. Homer, 20 pts; 2. Kenai, 39; 3. Skyview, 85.
3K Individual results — 1. Allie Ostrander, Ken, 10:38; 2. Megan Pitzman, Hom, 12:01; 3. Aurora Waclawski, Hom, 12:11; 4. Molly Mitchell, Hom, 12:26; 5. Ziza Shemet-Pitcher, Hom, 12:52; 6. Lauren Evarts, Hom, 12:54; 7. Julie Wilson, Ken, 13:00; 8. Pam Jantzi, Hom, 13:09; 9. Courtney Stroh, Ken, 13:45; 10. Alex Bergholtz, Ken, 13:47; 11. Audrey Rosencrans, Hom, 13:48; 12. Beverly Schindler, Ken, 13:57; 13. Andi Reilly, Ken, 14:19; 14. Savannah Clark, Ken, 14:55; 15. Abby Cook, Sky, 15:10; 16. Mieka Chythlook, Sky, 16:41; 17. Brittany Hollers, Sky, 16:57; 18. Dawnrae Wysong, Sky, 16:58; 19. Kaylee Fisher, Sky, 17:37.
5K Team scores — 1. Soldotna, 15 pts.
5K Individual results — 1. Olivia Hutchings, Sol, 19:39; 2. Dani McCormick, Sol, 20:01.4; 3. Daisy Nelson, Sol, 20:01.8; 4. Sadie Fox, Sol, 20:07; 5. Emily Werner, Sol, 21:24; 6. Molly Erickson, Sol, 23:42; 7. Ashlyn Johnson, Sol, 23:50.
3K Team scores — 1. Kenai, 22 pts; 2. Homer, 47; 3. Skyview, 54.
3K Individual results — 1. Jonah Theisen, Ken, 10:01; 2. Jordan Theisen, Ken, 10:04; 3. Pedro Ochoa, Hom, 10:05; 4. Micah Hilbish, Sky, 10:28; 5. Quincy Fuller, Ken, 10:42; 6. Nate Mole, Ken, 10:45; 7. Josh Vantrease, Hom, 10:46; 8. Travis Cooper, Ken, 10:48; 9. Daniel Shuler, Sky, 10:51; 10. Brenner Musgrave, Sky, 10:57; 11. Brandon Beachy, Hom, 11:00; 12. Jared Brant, Hom, 11:07; 13. Mac Lee, Ken, 11:19; 14. August Kilcher, Hom, 11:27; 15. Seth Hutchison, Sky, 11:28; 16. Coltin Yancey, Sky, 11:32; 17. Dakota Alward, Hom, 11:40; 18. Sky Schlung, Sky, 11:43; 19. Logan Hemphill, Sky, 11:51; 20. Calvin Johnson, Hom, 12:11.
5K Team scores — 1. Soldotna, 15 pts; 2. Nikiski; 3. Seward.
5K Individual results — 1. Michael Marshall, Sew, 17:34; 2. Aaron Swedberg, Sol, 18:46; 3. Levi Michael, Sol, 18:47; 4. Colton Diehl, Sol, 18:52; 5. Shane Larrow, Sol, 19:05; 6. Brian Dusek, Sol, 19:09; 7. Addison Downing, Sol, 19:22; 8. Jared Wallis, Nik, 20:01; 9. Tommy McCormick, Sol, 21:29.