Colony boys, Homer girls take SoHi Invite

Posted: Sunday, January 29, 2006


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  Soldotna's Jordan Chilson tucks into a straight stretch at the bottom of a hill near the finish of Saturday's 10-kilometer boys skate race during the Soldotna Invitational at Tsalteshi Trails. Photo by M. Scott Moon

Soldotna's Liana Purugganan and Homer's Claire Laukitis race into the finish chute Saturday at the Soldotna Invitational. Purugganan finished 15th and Laukitis finished seventh the skate race.

Photo by M. Scott Moon

Panther pride is beginning to take shape and even get a little growl going on the slopes and valleys of Tsalteshi Trails.

Skyview High continued its ascent among high school boys Nordic ski teams Saturday by finishing the runner-up to Colony in the two-day SoHi Invite. The Knights finished a solid eight-plus minutes ahead with a winning time of four hours, 45 seconds, and Skyview was clocked in 4:09:13 in the eight-team competition.

“They were a couple of good races, and my team is really improving,” said Erick Romig, who paced the Skyview contingent. “We started out from a mediocre team and they’ve definitely moved up. There’s been a lot of hard work and dedication.”

Teams opened in the classic competition Friday, with the boys touring 7.5 kilometers and the girls 5. Saturday’s race was in skate format, with the boys traveling 10 kilometers and the girls 7.5.

The girls title was claimed by depth-laden Homer in 3:26.51, over 13 minutes ahead of Palmer.

The individual champions for the weekend were Colony’s Ryan VanGorder, who won Friday’s classic and finished third in Saturday’s skate for a combined time of 55:59, and Seward’s Sarah Glaser (47:02), who won Friday’s classic and was second in Saturday’s skate.

Romig posted a third-place finish Friday in 24:02.5 and covered Saturday’s distance in 34:18.4, leading four Panthers in the top 17 of the skate competition.

Tommy Honer (14th), Taylor Karnikis (16th) and Kelly Skipwith (17th) also posted strong showings Saturday, helping Skyview clip Soldotna in the two-day total by less than two minutes. Karnikis and Honer finished 15th and 16th overall, respectively.


Soldotna's Jordan Chilson tucks into a straight stretch at the bottom of a hill near the finish of Saturday's 10-kilometer boys skate race during the Soldotna Invitational at Tsalteshi Trails.

Photo by M. Scott Moon

“My classic race was a little bit better,” Romig said. “My skate race today was still pretty good. I still felt tired. I felt I gave it my all, but it was a lot of skiing in two days. There are a lot of good racers here.”

Romig tried to gain advantages by exploding up the hills and through the flats, a strategy that paid handsome dividends.

Colony, in addition to VanGorder winning, also counted overall finishes of seventh by Mason Wick, 11th by Nick Whitmore, 12th by Alex Munger and 14th by Connor Murray. VanGorder was first in Friday’s classic by a solid 37 seconds.

Kenai Central was led by Kyle Latz, who finished fifth overall after sixth-place showings each day. Max Milliron led “host” Soldotna with a sixth-place overall mark.

Elsewhere in the top 10, Homer’s Morgan Jones was second, Su Valley’s Nico Ambrose won Saturday’s skate and claimed third, Wasilla’s Joe Hunner was eighth, Seward’s David Apperson was ninth and SoHi’s Caleb Chase finished 10th.

“The teams are very strong,” Romig said. “Colony has a nice team, and so does Kenai. Even though some of Kenai’s racers were missing, some of ours were, too. There was still a lot of good competition.”

In the girls competition, Glaser won the task of sleeping on the overnight lead (28.8 seconds). Her plan for Saturday, in turn, was simple: don’t get passed.

“It’s definitely, definitely harder to start out front,” Glaser said. “It takes a lot more guts, than to chase people.”

However, even though Palmer’s Kate Fitzgerald made up nine seconds and won Saturday’s skate, she never passed Glaser. Homer’s Erika Klaar, a winner here two weeks ago, added another solid showing at Tsalteshi with third-place marks Friday, Saturday and overall.

“Soldotna just has fabulous trails,” Glaser said. “I enjoy racing on them because they’re so, so beautiful. While you’re skiing, you’re like, ‘There’s nowhere else I’d rather be right now. There’s nothing else I’d rather be doing.’ It’s a lot of fun.”

And Glaser’s not just doing the work of the local chamber, or providing impetus for new “Id rather be —” bumper stickers. She truly excelled on a course that suits her strengths.

“I tried to gain an advantage, especially on the hills, because I’m more of a strength skier,” Glaser said. “I’m better at longer distances. It was all fun. It was just gorgeous out there.”

The top 10 for the weekend were rounded out by Valdez’s Sherstin Cullen, Homer’s Emma Laukitis, Skyview’s Kendra Merkes, Homer’s Claire Laukitis, Colony’s Erin Skvorc, SoHi’s Liana Purugganan and Homer’s Thorey Munro.


(At Tsalteshi Trails)

Boys Team Standings

(Friday Classic time-Saturday Skate time-Overall time)

1, Colony 1:40:25-2:20:20-4:00:45; 2, Skyview 1:44:11-2:25:02-4:09:13; 3, Soldotna 1:44:14-2:26:43-4:10:57; 4, Homer 1:54:07-2:35:22-4:29:29; 5, Palmer 1:53:39-2:41:03-4:34:42; 6, Kenai Central 1:47:12-2:55:56-4:43:08; 7, Seward 2:08:36-2:51:27-5:00:03; 8, Su Valley 2:09:10-2:52:04-5:01:14.

Girls Team Standings

(Friday Classic time-Saturday Skate time-Overall time)

1, Homer 1:30:28-1:56:23-3:26:51; 2, Palmer 1:35:24-2:05:12-3:40:36; 3, Colony 1:36:09-2:10:33-3:50:03; 4, Seward 1:39:30-2:10:33-3:50:03; 5, Valdez 1:39:59-2:10:44-3:50:43; 6, Kenai Central 1:42:07-2:10:55-3:53:02; 7, Skyview 1:41:07-2:14:33-3:55.40.

Boys Overall

1, Ryan VanGorder (Colony), 55:59; 2, Morgan Jones (Homer), 56:13; 3, Nico Ambrose (Su Valley), 56:30; 4, Erick Romig (Skyview), 58:21; 5, Kyle Latz (Kenai Central), 59:56; 6, Max Milliron (Soldotna), 1:00:14; 7, Mason Wick (Colony), 1:01:15; 8, Joe Hunner (Wasilla), 1:01:15; 9, David Apperson (Seward), 1:01:38; 10, Caleb Chase (Soldotna), 1:01:38.

Boys Skate

(Saturday, 10.0 km)

1, Ambrose (SV), 31:51.9; 2, Jones (H), 32:20.5; 3, VanGorder (C), 32:43.8; 4, Romig (Sk), 34:18.4; 5, Apperson (Se), 34:43.4; 6, Latz (KC), 35:17.2; 7, Milliron (So), 35:24.7; 8, Wick (C), 35:41.8; 9, Nick Whitmore (Colony), 35:42.1; 10, Chase (So), 35:44.8.

Boys Classic

(Friday, 7.5 km)

1, VanGorder (C), 23:15.3; 2, Jones (H), 23:52.3; Romig (Sk), 24:02.5; 4, Christopher Hall (Kenai Central), 24:03.1; 5, Ambrose (SV), 24:38.2; 6, Latz (KC), 24:38.9; 7, Milliron (So), 24:49.4; 8, Hunner (W), 25:06.7; 9, Wick (C), 25:33.1; 10, Connor Murray (C), 25:38.3.

Girls Overall

1, Sarah Glaser (Seward), 47:02; 2, Kate Fitzgerald (Palmer), 47:21; 3, Erika Klaar (Homer), 48:47; 4, Sherstin Cullen (Valdez), 51:40; 5, Emma Laukitis (Homer), 51:49; 6, Kendra Merkes (Skyview), 51:51; 7, Claire Laukitis (Homer), 52:23; 8, Erin Skvorc (Colony), 52:33; 9, Liana Purugganan (Soldotna), 53:58; 10, Thorey Munro (Homer), 54:37.

Girls Skate

(Saturday, 7.5 km)

1, Fitzgerald (P), 26:29.5; 2, Glaser (Se), 26:38.7; 3, Klaar (H), 27:29.6; 4, Merkes (Sk), 29:01.2; 5, E. Laukitis (H), 29:04.0; 6, Cullen (V), 29:16.7; 7, C. Laukitis (H), 29:24.5; 8, Skvorc (C) 29:46.7; 9, Jaclyn Arndt (H), 30:24.8; 10, Munro (H), 31:10.1.

Girls Classic

(Friday, 5.0 km)

1, Glaser (Se), 20:22.9; 2, Fitzgerald (P), 20:51.7; 3, Klaar (H), 21:16.9; 4, Cullen (V), 22:22.8; 5, Purugganan (So), 22:29.7; 6, E. Laukitis (H), 22:45.4; 7, Skvorc (C), 22:45.8; 8, Merkes (Sk), 22:49.5; 9, C. Laukitis (H), 22:58.9; 10, Munro (H), 23:26.4.

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