Shortly after skiing his best race of the season, Andre Lovett had a flashback.
"I remember reading this poster and it said, 'A real winner isn't content with yesterday's victory,'" Lovett said. "So I'm just going to chalk this one up and come back next week and try my hardest again."
Forgive him if he makes an exception this time.
Lovett won the 10-kilometer freestyle race in a time of 29 minutes, 22.1 seconds, leading Homer to its first trophy this season at the Kenai Peninsula Borough cross-country skiing invite at Tsalteshi Trails behind Skyview High School on Saturday.
Soldotna junior Bree Mucha won the six-kilometer girls race in 21:10.6, edging teammate Maranda Merkes (21:56.6) as the Stars captured the girls team title. Kenai Central, Seward and Skyview also competed.
"Everything was working. The wax was great, the trails were awesome, it was just all really good," Lovett said. "I had a good night's sleep last night, a good breakfast this morning and I was ready to ski."
Homer coach Jan Spurkland said it was the first borough title for the boys team in at least a decade, though he didn't know when -- or if -- the Mariners had last won the event.
The Homer boys finished with a team time of 2:01:12.3, finishing ahead of SoHi (2:04:49), Skyview (2:08:14.5) and Kenai Central (2:09:37.7).
Lovett edged out SoHi's Luke Michael by less than a second to capture first. The pair was side-by-side coming down the final stretch, Lovett remembered, before the Homer junior surpassed his counterpart on a crest.
He had just enough of a lead to push past the finish line first.
"You just gotta go for it," Lovett said. "You don't really know what you're doing. You let the skiing take over because there's so much adrenaline. You just let it go."
The timing couldn't have been better for Lovett because the region meet is next weekend. The state meet follows, meaning he is hitting his stride at the best time.
"He's had a level of dedication that's set the tone for the boys team all season long," Spurkland said. "There are always ups and downs. It seems here as we are coming into the championship phase that he is right where he should be. He is starting to hit that upswing. Everything is falling into place for him."
Everything also is falling into place for Mucha, who has won every region meet in which she has competed this season. Mucha was dominant on Saturday, beating runner-up Merkes by 46 seconds.
The two-time state participant will be a favorite to capture a region title.
"She's been extremely consistent," SoHi coach Dan Harbison said. "That's the mark of a champion, and you're seeing it. As long as she can continue being consistent like this, she will have good results."
Mucha said it took part of the race to warm up -- and speed up -- because the temperatures were around zero when the competition began.
Once that happened, there was no doubt the race was hers to win.
The Stars won the girls competition with a team time of 1:30:47. Kenai Central was second in 1:39:18.6, followed by Homer (1:41:29.8) and Skyview (1:44:49.8).
"We work really, really hard so it's nice to see that it pays off," Mucha said of winning the team crown.
Boroughs cross-country skiing invite
Skyview High School
Boys -- 1. Homer, 2:01:12.3; 2. Soldotna, 2:04:49; 3. Skyview, 2:08:14.5; 4. Kenai Central, 2:09:37.7.
Girls -- 1. Soldotna, 1:30:47; 2. Kenai Central, 1:39:18.6; 3. Homer, 1:41:29.8; 4. Skyview, 1:44:49.8.
1. Andre Lovett, Hom, 29:22.1; 2. Luke Michael, Sol, 29:23.0; 3. Brayden Holt, Sky, 29:6.0; 4. Parker Sorenson, Hom, 29:6.7; 5. James Watkins, Ken, 30:06.1; 6. Brian Rowe, Hom, 30:10.7; 7. Dillon Jensen, Sol, 30:50.5; 8. IntiMayo Harbison, Sol, 31:05.4; 9. Leif Danielson, Sky, 31:06.4; 10. Brett Chase, Sew, 31:54.1; 11. Kevin Rowe, Hom, 32:02; 12. Kade Cooper, Sky, 32:46; 13. Fox Michaud, Ken, 33:03; 14. Joe Bressler, Ken, 33:10; 15. Tyler Cooper, Ken, 33:18; 16. Joseph Rife, Sol, 33:30; 17. Colton Diehl, Sol, 33:35; 18. Josh Vantrease, Hom, 34:44; 19. Olen Danielson, Sky, 34:45; 20. Ben Gilman, Ken, 34:45; 21. Sam Werthmuller, Sky, 34:46; 22. Dan Adickes, Hom, 34:49; 23. Jake Gilman, Ken, 35:19; 24. Kyle Wentz, Hom, 35:24; 25. Joey Bishop, Sky, 36:04; 26. Ehren Rickman, Sol, 37:46; 27. Miles Knotek, Sew, 38:36; 28. Issac Cryer, Ken, 38:50; 29. Coley Covey, Nik, 39:04.
1. Bree Mucha, Sol, 21:10.6; 2. Maranda Merkes, Sol, 21:56.6; 3. Michelle Klaben, Ken, 22:02.9; 4. D.Anne Martin, Sol, 22:46.1; 5. MacKenzie Barnwell, Sew, 24:25.2; 6. Marie Schmidt, Hom, 24:29.2; 7. Mady Gerard, Hom, 24:49.7; 8. Olivia Phiefer, Ken, 24:51.0; 9. Jordann Nelson, Sol, 24:53.7; 10. Olivia Fair, Ken, 25:42.2; 11. Tamlyn Silva, Sky, 25:49; 12. Alaine Miller, Hom, 25:51; 13. Mika Morton, Sky, 25:52; 14. Emily Schmidt, Hom, 26:19; 15. Catherine Wolk, Sky, 26:24; 16. Kristin Hynne, Sol, 26:32; 17. Cassidy Soistman, Hom, 26:40; 18. Vanessa Anderson, Ken, 26:42; 19. Taylor Ostrander, Ken, 26:43; 20. Elisha Hollers, Sky, 26:43; 21. Eve Ferguson, Ken, 28:07; 22. Chelsea Springer, Ken, 28:08; 23. Chelsea Winter, Sky, 28:29; 24. Maren Pfenning, Sol, 28:38; 25. Ashley Gerola, Sol, 28:38; 26. Katie Schmidt, Hom, 28:58; 27. Katie Clonan, Sky, 28:58.
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