SoHi’s Mucha cruises to Region III crown

Colony boys, Homer girls make off with team championships at Tsalteshi Trails

Posted: Sunday, February 11, 2007

 

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  Soldotna's Kailey Mucha (101) leads Skyview's Kendra Merkes (105) and Homer's Claire Laukitis (109) up a rise at the start of the skat portion of the Region III cross-country ski championships at Tsalteshi Trails. Mucha won both Saturday's and Friday's race. Photo by M. Scott Moon

Soldotna's Kailey Mucha (101) leads Skyview's Kendra Merkes (105) and Homer's Claire Laukitis (109) up a rise at the start of the skat portion of the Region III cross-country ski championships at Tsalteshi Trails. Mucha won both Saturday's and Friday's race.

Photo by M. Scott Moon

In hopes of fostering fond memories of this season, Homer coach Ida Martin worked tirelessly on sequined handbands for her entire team to wear during competitions.

“Kind of a little memento of the year and they like handbands,” she said. “It took me a little while to get them done.”

Just in time, too.

And after their dominating finish at the Region III skiing championships, the Mariners are sure to don them in next weekend’s state meet as well.

Owning nearly a three-minute edge entering Saturday’s 7.5-kilometer skating portion at Tsalteshi Trails, Homer had six girls finish in the overall top 25 in claiming its first region title since 2000.

“The girls were definitely looking at winning regions,” Martin said. “They’ve been dominant over these teams all season. It was a nice way to finish up.”

Difficult to miss with their shiny handbands sparkling in the morning sun, the Mariners were led by Erika Klaar, who placed second with a combined time of 39:21, and seventh-place finisher Claire Laukitis (40:53), in edging second-place Soldotna by more than five minutes.

“That was a goal from the beginning of the year. Last year at regions we had some problems with wax and we didn’t come in where we should have,” said Klaar, who finished second on both days. “So, we are glad to kind of come back and redo that this year.

“The headband’s really helped,” she added. “They’re really nice. They’re very cozy.”

Soldotna freshman Kailey Mucha won the individual title with a combined time of 37:48, after claiming Friday’s classical race by over a minute. Following Klaar, Valdez’s Camy Dengel took third with a time of 39:47, Kenai’s Molly Watkins finished fourth (40:20) and Soldotna’s Jasmine Clock placed fifth (40:40).

 

Nikiski's Thomas Wheeler, second from left, takes off from Saturday's chevron-style mass start.

Photo by M. Scott Moon

Colony won the boys team title by 3:31 over Kenai and Skyview finished third.

The Knights’ Ryan Van Gorder also won the individual title with a combined time of 50 minutes. Erick Romig of Skyview placed second at 50:24, Susitna Valley’s Galen Johnston finished third (50:32) and Kenai’s Trent Semmens and Chris Hall took fourth and fifth, respectively, with times of 51:10 and 51:25.

Exiting the finish area, Mucha seemed a bit surprised with her region crown.

“I wasn’t expecting to win regions,” she said. “I was just trying to go out, do my best and I won.”

To everybody else, however, there was little shock as Mucha has dominated since her first-ever high school race back in early December.

“She’s done really well this year. She’s real strong,” said her mother and Kardinals’ coach D’Anna Gibson. “I’d have to say it’s that summer training that makes a big key on all this.

“I’ve seen more mental maturity throughout the races and just physically, just taking on this new role as she got more comfortable with it,” she added. “It’s been fun to watch.”

Mucha said the nerves are beginning to set in with state only one week away, yet she is still hoping to finish strong.

“My thoughts are try to make the top 10, at least,” she said.

The boys competition didn’t run quite as smoothly.

Crashes and broken poles highlighted the challenging 10-kilometer race on Saturday that saw Friday’s top five skiers finish in the exact same order.

Van Gorder tumbled and damaged his boot cuff, Romig collided with Semmens and Hall broke a pole, yet all still managed to cross the finish line leading the pack.

“I think everybody in the lead group crashed,” Van Gorder explained. “I was in the lead on a big downhill and crashed. It was pretty fun.”

With nearly 60 skiers, the mass start may be to blame.

“It was definitely not much room. It was kind of narrow for the entire region to be having a mass start,” Romig said. “But it was definitely fun. A lot of cool stuff happened — eventful.”

Near the third kilometer, Romig said he crossed over Semmens’ ski, knocking them both down and back about 20 or 30 places.

 

Colony's Ryan VanGorder and Susitna Valley's Galen Johnston draft behind Skyview's Erick Romig as Romig leads the boys skate race near the finish Saturday. Romig finished second behind VanGorder on both days of the Region III cross-country ski championships.

Photo by M. Scott Moon

“It was pretty narrow,” he said. “There just happened to be a lot of people around that certain point.”

Hall expressed similar thoughts on the chaos.

“That’s probably one of the most lively races we’ve had all year,” he said. “Most of the top guys either wrecked, broke a pole or wrecked twice.

“It was kind of funny, though, because we all ended up in the top five,” Hall added.

Johnston, however, was a bit more fortunate than the rest.

“I was about the one person in the top five, at least, I know that didn’t go down,” Johnston said. “I had a lucky race and just stayed on my feet.

“People were getting tangled up all over the place,” he added. “It was a really rough race by any standards.”

Matthew Carroll can be reached at matthew.carroll @peninsulaclarion.com.

Region 3 Skiing Championships

BOYS

Team scores: 1. Colony (3:28:18); 2. Kenai (3:31:49); 3. Skyview (3:34:38); 4. Soldotna (3:37:02); 5. Nikiski (3:52:37); 6. Homer (3:54:07); 7. Palmer (3:54:09); 8. Seward (4:08:38).

Individual results (Friday’s 7.5K Classic, Saturday’s 10K Skate, Overall)

1. Van Gorder, Colony (22:14, 27:46, 50:00); 2. Romig, Skyview, 22:36, 27:47, 50:24); 3. Johnston, Su Valley (22:43, 27:48, 50:32; 4. Semmens, Kenai (23:05, 28:04, 51:10); 5. Hall, Kenai, (23:25, 27:59, 51:25); 6. Whitmore, Colony (23:44, 28:19, 52:03); 7. Arneson, Cook Inlet (23:52, 28:34, 52:28); 8. Wick, Colony (23:53, 28:44, 52:38); 9. Milliron, SoHi (23:43, 28:58, 52:42); 10. Gordon, SoHi, 24:20, 29:05, 53:26).

Other peninsula finishers

12. Reid, Kenai (23:40, 30:03, 53:44); 13. Skipwith, Skyview (24:35, 29:49, 54:25); 15. Chase, SoHi (24:52, 30:03, 54:55); 16. Thein, Skyview (25:22, 29:56, 55:19); 18. B. Bakk, Nikiski (24:59, 30:54, 55:54); 19. French, SoHi (25:28, 30:30, 55:59); 21. A. Bakk, Nikiski (26:15, 30:05, 56:21); 22. Nyquist, Kenai (26:41, 29:56, 56:37); Anderson, Homer (26:02, 30:52, 56:55); 24. Chase, Seward (26:30, 30:47, 57:18); 25. Merkes, Skyview (26:45, 30:42, 57:28); 26. Maxson, Skyview (25:20, 32:21, 57:42); 27. Gillon, Homer (26:35, 31:07, 57:43); 28. Sutton, Kenai (25:34, 32:18, 57:53); 29. Chilson, SoHi (27:10, 30:53, 58:04); 30. Sanders, SoHi (27:33, 30:50, 58:23); 31. Murray, SoHi (26:34, 31:58, 58:33); 32. Wheeler, Nikiski (28:39, 30:09, 58:49); 34. Louthan, Kenai (26:42, 32:24, 59:07); 35. Haas, Homer (27:39, 31:48, 59:28); 38. Schneider, Homer (28:00, 32:01, 1:00:02); 41. Anderson, Homer (28:08, 32:44, 1:00:53); 42. Ware, Nikiski (28:35, 32:58, 1:01:33); 44. Jasper, Homer (28:53, 33:39, 1:02:33); 46. Nyholm, Seward (29:14, 33:52, 1:03:07); 47. Sarka, Seward (29:10, 34:34, 1:03:45); 49. Phillips, Kenai (27:35, 36:16, 1:03:52); 51. Zweifel, Seward (29:10, 35:19, 1:04:30); 52. Talens, Seward (29:13, 35:38, 1:04:52); 54. Ferkinoff, Seward (29:15, 35:42, 1:04:58); 55. Backlund, Seward (29:41, 35:35, 1:05:17); Smith, Homer (29:33, 37:10, 1:06:44); DNF: Honer, Skyview (24:09); Karnikis, Skyview (25:01).

GIRLS

Team scores: 1. Homer (2:44:02); 2. Soldotna (2:49:36); 3. Kenai (2:50:44); 4. Colony (2:56:29); 5. Skyview (2:58:20); 6. Palmer (2:58:52); 7. Valdez (3:01:24); 8. Seward (3:06:50).

Individual results (Friday’s 5K Classic, Saturday’s 7.5K Skate, Overall)

1. Mucha, SoHi (16:18, 21:29, 37:48); 2. Klaar, Homer (17:26, 21:55, 39:21); 3. Dengel, Valdez (17:49, 21:58, 39:47); 4. Watkins, Kenai (17:45, 22:34, 40:20); 5. Clock, SoHi (18:41, 21:58, 40:40); 6. Merkes, Skyview (18:14, 22:27, 40:42); 7. C. Laukitis, Homer (18:42, 22:11, 40:53); 8. Cullen, Valdez (18:43, 22:46, 41:30); 9. Skvorc, Colony (18:37, 23:08, 41:46); 10. Cresap, Grace (19:17, 22:33, 41:52).

Other peninsula finishers

11. E. Laukitis, Homer (18:42, 23:10, 41:53); 12. Bursch, Homer (18:44, 23:10, 41:55); 13. Roesing, Skyview (19:16, 23:31, 42:48); 14. Rehm, Cook Inlet (19:37, 23:11, 42:50); 15. Johnson, Kenai (19:19, 23:35, 42:54); 17. Arneson, Cook Inlet (18:54, 24:05, 43:00); 18. Vantrease, Homer (19:13, 24:00, 43:13); 19. Smith, SoHi (19:30, 23:47, 43:18); 20. Ford, Kenai (19:34, 24:02, 43:37); 21. Louthan, Kenai (19:45, 24:06, 43:52); 23. Glaser, Seward (18:39, 25:21, 44:00); 24. Munro, Homer (19:38, 24:51, 44:31); 27. Rykacqewski, Homer (19:15, 25:28, 44:44); 34. Backlund, Seward (20:32, 26:12, 46:46); 35. Danielson, Skyview (20:46, 26:11, 46:58); 36. Ray, IDEA (20:28, 26:38, 47:07); 38. Smola, SoHi (21:41, 26:07, 47:50); 39. Anderson, Skyview (21:45, 26:06, 47:52); 40. O’Leary, Seward (20:46, 27:20, 48:07); 42. Barnwell, Seward (21:31, 27:14, 48:46); 43. Chase, SoHi (21:50, 27:05, 48:56); 45. Domke, Cook Inlet (21:19, 27:44, 49:04); 49. Jasky-Zuber, Skyview (24:35, 26:45, 51:21); 50. Hanke, SoHi (22:43, 28:46, 51:30); 52. Latz, Kenai (22:11, 30:00, 52:11); 57. Johnson, Seward (24:29, 30:31, 55:01); 58. Hughes, Kenai (24:27, 31:24, 55:51); 59. Capra, Seward (25:14, 33:37, 58:52); DNF: Carlson, Kenai (26:38); Peck, Seward (20:42).



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