Skyview’s Kendra Merkes peels a protective layer of duct tape off her face following her fourth-place finish at the Kenai Klassic cross-country ski race at Tsalteshi Trails Saturday morning. With temperatures hovering near zero, many athletes took creative measures to protect exposed skin.
Photo by M. Scott Moon
Records will show four young men scoring the victory for Kenai Central’s Nordic ski team Saturday as it hosted the Kenai Klassic at Tsalteshi Trails behind Skyview High School.
Their parents’ timing might be more deserving of a score than their race times.
Trent Semmens led three Kardinals in the top five places, finishing runner-up to Homer senior Morgan Jones by just under 17 seconds. Jones won the 10-kilometer freestyle event in 26 minutes, 17.1 seconds, while Homer’s Erika Klaar led the Lady Mariners to a team victory in the 7.5-kilometer girls event.
The meet was contested at Tsalteshi because Kenai’s regular home course, the Kenai Golf Course, does not yet have enough snow. Sunshine and temperatures hovering at 0 degrees combined to make for frigid, but good, conditions.
“We’ve had some problems getting to Skyview (for practices) because we’ve had some problems getting buses,” Semmens said. “But our parents really stepped in, and that was great. We just want to say thanks to the parents, they really pulled through and that was cool.”
Semmens was timed in 26:34.0, and teammates Kyle Latz (27:15.5) and Christopher Hall (27:19.7) were fourth and fifth, respectively.
Rounding out the Kardinals’ scoring was D.C. Reid, who finished 15th in 29:47.2.
Kenai’s winning time totaled 1 hour, 50 minutes and 56.4 seconds. Soldotna was second in 1:54:23.7, Skyview third in 1:55:54.7 and Homer fourth in 2:00:37.3. Rounding out the team scores were Seward (2:33:31.3) and Grace (2:35:33.8). Cook Inlet Academy and Nikiski also were represented.
Semmens was pleased with his team’s performance in addition to his own.
“It went really well,” Semmens said of his race. “I didn’t think I was going to do as well as I did. But it turned out good, so I’m happy.”
Semmens and Jones, like many skiers, pointed to the red hill in the opening half of the race as pivotal.
“It’s the biggest hill on the course,” Jones said. “It’s a pain in the butt to get up. You go straight down a hill, straight back uphill, for maybe 200 feet. It’s one of the hardest climbs I’ve had to do in any race. I had people to chase up, and that helps a lot.”
Added Semmens, “That’s where you decide how the race is going to go.”
SoHi was paced by Max Milliron (27:41.4) and Sean Twohy (28:30.5) with finishes of sixth and seventh, respectively. Caleb Chase and Caleb Gordon finished 10th and 13th.
Skyview was led by Erick Romig’s third-place showing, 55.1 seconds behind Jones. Lucas Thein, Tommy Honer and Kelly Skipwith were ninth, 11th and 16th, respectively.
Gus Beck added an eighth-place showing for the Mariners.
Seward was led by David Apperson’s 12th-place finish. Cook Inlet Academy’s Lars Arneson was 14th and Nikiski’s Aaron Bakk was 17th. Grace’s best finish was 30th by Ryan Cox.
The girls race was won by a strong team from Homer (1:41:56.2), followed by Kenai Central (1:58:04.0) and Seward (2:02:20.7). Grace, Skyview and Soldotna also were represented.
Klaar won in an impressive 24:07.4, more than 34 seconds ahead of Seward’s Sarah Glaser (24:41.9). Glaser bettered her winning time from last week’s Skyview Skiing Invitational, but Klaar knocked 2:19.8 off of last week’s third-place time.
Kenai’s Christopher Hall skis into the finish chute for a fifth place finish Saturday at the Kenai Klassic.
Photo by M. Scott Moon
Klaar gave credit to a deep team with which to practice, and a change in strategy.
“We all had the same goal, to push down the hills,” Klaar said. “Usually you try to coast down the hills and pick up time by resting. We decided we wanted to push down the hills and we weren’t going to rest on them.”
The result was claiming seven of the top 10 places, including Claire Laukitis in third, Emma Laukitis in fifth and Gillian Beran-Maryott in sixth all racing to sub-27 times.
“I think the fact that everybody is so close to each other, everybody wants to push really hard,” Klaar said. “There are people that everybody wants to beat, and then we all want to work really hard. We’re all competing for varsity spots, so we know that during practice, coach has to see that we’re doing well. We really push hard.”
Kenai Central got a ninth-place finish from Beca Ford (27:52.8) and 12th from Molly Watkins (28:39.6). In addition to Glaser, Seward was boosted by Katie Peck’s 15th-place finish.
Skyview’s Kendra Merkes was fourth in 25:22.3. Soldotna’s Liana Purugganan was 11th and Sarah Martinez was 13th to lead Grace.
At Tsalteshi Trails, Skyview High School
TEAM SCORES: 1, Homer 1:41:56.2; 2, Kenai Central 1:58:04.0; 3, Seward 2:02:20.7
Individual 7.5-kilometer freestyle results
1, Erika Klaar (H), 24:07.4; 2, Sarah Glaser (Sew), 24:41.9; 3, Claire Laukitis (H), 25:02.2; 4, Kendra Merkes (Skyview), 25:22.3; 5, Emma Laukitis (H), 26:03.9; 6, Gillian Beran-Maryott (H), 27:07.4; 7, Thorey Munro (H), 27:07.4; 8, Kristin Vantrease (H), 27:33.7; 9, Beca Ford (KC), 27:52.8; 10, Jaclyn Arndt (H), 27:58.2; 11, Liana Purugganan (Soldotna), 28:14.3; 12, Molly Watkins (KC), 28:39.6; 13, Sarah Martinez (Grace), 28:47.4; 14, Casey Martinez (G), 28:56.6; 15, Katie Peck (Sew), 30:13.6; 16, Jamie Dunn (KC), 30:19.1; 17, Ariel Barker (Sky) 30:31.8; 18, Kristi Louthan (KC), 31:12.5; 19, Claudia Meder (KC), 31:19.9; 20, Friel Alisha (Sew), 33:35.7; 21, Tekla Backlund (Sew), 33:49.5; 22, Mercedes Hughes (KC), 38:46.6; 23, Heather Perry (KC), 48:13.2; 24, Emily Capra (Sew), 55:27.8.
TEAM SCORES: 1, Kenai Central 1:50:56.4; 2, Soldotna 1:54:23.7; 3, Skyview 1:55:54.7; 4, Homer 2:00:37.2; 5, Seward 2:33:31.2; 6, Grace 2:35:33.8.
Individual 10-kilometer freestyle results
1, Morgan Jones (H), 26:17.1; 2, Trent Semmens (KC), 26:34.0; 3, Erick Romig (Sky), 27:12.2; 4, Kyle Latz (KC), 27:15.5; 5, Christopher Hall (KC), 27:19.7; 6, Max Milliron (Sol), 27:41.4; 7, Sean Twohy (Sol), 28:30.5; 8, Gus Beck (H), 28:38.8; 9, Lucas Thein (Sky), 28:46.2; 10, Caleb Chase (Sol), 28:46.7; 11, Tommy Honer (Sky), 29:14.1; 12, David Apperson (Sew), 29:18.4; 13, Caleb Gordon (Sol), 29:25.1; 14, Lars Arneson (Cook Inlet Academy), 29:31.4; 15, D.C. Reid (KC), 29:47.2; 16, Kelly Skipwith (Sky), 30:42.2; 17, Aaron Bakk (Nikiski), 30:52.4; 18, Jed Smith (H), 31:46.8; 19, Jordan Merkes (Sky), 31:47.3; 20, Eddie French (Sol), 31:50.9; 21, Kirk Louthan (KC), 32:35.5; 22, Johnny Cook (Sky), 33:20.6; 23, Gabe Murray (Sol), 33:26.3; 24, Mark Chase (Sew), 33:52.9; 25, Patrick Schneider (H), 33:54.6.
26, Sterling Gillon (H), 33:59.7; 27, Bryan Bakk (N), 35:06.2; 28, Aaron Chase (Sol), 35:26.7; 29, Ben Phillips (KC), 35:53.4; 30, Ryan Cox (G), 36:23.1; 31, Alex Verseput (G), 36:54.4; 32, Ancel Ware (N), 37:31.3; 33, Jack Anderson (H), 38:00.0; 34, George Ilutsik (G), 39:09.6; 35, Aaron Sarka (Sew), 40:21.1; 36, Will Anderson (H), 41:06.2; 37, Luke Marselus (G), 43:06.7; 38, Kevin Talens (Sew), 49:58.9; 39, Aaron Barnes (G), 53:12.7; 40, Koal Backlund (Sew), 1:02:43.5.
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