SoHi boys, SkyHi girls take titles

Hall wears individual crown on home turf

Posted: Sunday, February 17, 2002

The day was crisp and clear. Eagles soared high above Nikiski and the sun shone just enough through the 30-degree air to warm the spirits of young competitors vying for the title of "the best."

Some said Saturday was a fine day for skiing. It was a fine day for champions.

Skyview High School and Soldotna High School were champions, indeed, as the Panthers girls and the Stars boys cross-country ski teams captured the respective titles for Region III's "best."

The win marked a return to glory for a Skyview girls team that had enjoyed a seven-year streak in the region that ended in 1998. On the boys side, Saturday's victory was a continuation of skiing dominance for the three-peating Stars.

Individual best skiers -- both for the region championship and the season -- were Susitna Valley High School's Tazlina Mannix and Nikiski's Zachary Hall, earning Skier of the Year nominations and overall skiing championships.

Soldotna closed out Colony by six minutes, 14 seconds, in overall combined top-four finishing times. Stars coach Dan Harbison said his team was pleased about retaining the championship, but was going to focus less on celebrating and more on preparing for the Alaska Schools Athletic Association state cross-country skiing championship, this weekend in Fairbanks.

"I'm happy about their performance," he said. "But we know the work is far from over. We'll congratulate ourselves, but we're kind of a down-to-business team. We see ourselves as being in the underdog position, even here."

With teams like West High of Anchorage and West Valley of Fairbanks to contend with, Harbison said his team cannot afford to rest on its laurels.

"As a team, we don't believe we can ever do that," he said.

Skyview girls coach Kent Peterson decided to gamble Saturday, with his team in front of Homer by only 5 minutes after the first day. He tried a new strategy, starting his three fastest skiers -- Stephanie Lambe, Elisabeth Habermann and Lela Wiley -- toward the back of the pack just ahead of middle starter Jamie Miller, and placing his usual rear starters -- Alecia Wood, Marci Mohler and Elisha Tarries -- up front.

He said his hope was that the earlier classical starters -- both for his team and his opponents -- would pack down the snow a bit to increase the speed for those following.

"Sometimes the track gets faster," Peterson said. "You're kind of just hedging your bets, hoping it works."

The plan worked enough for Lambe to finish third, with a time of 16:50, and for Habermann to finish fifth in 17:36. Habermann finished second in Friday's skate skiing competition, which greatly helped the Panthers team. But assistant coach Jim Bennett acknowledged the contribution of the team's second three starters, who were pushed to the front lines for Saturday's start.

"It would (have been) very good for those girls to finish strong," Bennett said. "And they did."

Habermann said she was happy to have done so well at Nikiski Saturday.

"Last time I raced in Nikiski, I didn't do so well," she said.

She won't be competing with her team on the next level, however. Habermann said she will be participating in the Junior Iditarod, which coincides with state finals. Lambe said Habermann will be missed.

"I'm kind of disappointed that Elisabeth is not going to be with us," Lambe said. "But we're a really young team, so we're going to be back."

Early in the day, Hall, who started the classical skiing race with one minute, 20 seconds to make up on the stagger, was chasing a far more important time gap. He finished second behind Soldotna's Brent Knight (at 25:58) in Friday's skate-skiing race, and sorely needed to make up the 18 seconds that separated them.

"I went out knowing Brent was ahead of me," Hall said. "I think I had a good, strong race. I knew in the last 2K that I had almost made up the time and I just had to keep from mentally breaking down."

Hall made up the stagger and finished the classical in 20:12, just 35 seconds ahead of Knight. Knight gave Hall credit for the comeback finish that he said is the perpetuation of a longtime friendly rivalry.

"Zack deserved every bit of that," Hall said. "It's his home course. We've been going at it since eighth grade, and it's been neck and neck. He's the best competitor."

Mannix took first pace in the girls skate ski and finished second behind Homer's Syverine Abrahamson in the classical race to claim the overall ski title. Her mother, and Su-Valley coach Karen Mannix, was named Coach of the Year, beating out Nikiski coach Dale Bakk by one vote -- his own.


Nikiski's Zach Hall skis past spectators as he approaches the finish line of Saturday's classic-style race. He won the event with a time of 20:12 and was the overall boys winner.

Photo by M. SCOTT MOON

Abrahamson, who won the classical race and finished third in the skate ski, placed second overall. She said the hardest part of the 5K course for her was the last set of curves and the final hill where she said skiers hit "the wall."

"That part can either make you or break you," she said.

Abrahamson said one of the most important aspects of the day was the camaraderie between competitors, and she looked forward to spending time with fellow skiers from the different schools in the region.

"It's the epitome of friendly competition," she said. "That's what's great about this region."

Knight said weather was a factor in the Saturday's good fortune.

"I haven't seen it this nice in a long time."


Friday, Saturday

At Nikiski Community Trails

Team scores: 1. Soldotna, three hours, 13:33 seconds; 2. Colony, 3:19:47; 3. Kenai, 3:28:34; 4. Homer, 3:32:38; 5. Skyview, 3:40:13; 6. Nikiski, 3:53:06; 7. Wasilla, 3:53:28; 8. Seward 3:54:44; 9. Palmer, 4:03:42.

Individual overall results

1. Hall, Nik, 46:28; 2. Knight, Sol, 46:45; 3. D. Harro, Sol, 47:46; 4. Warner, Col, 48:18; 5. Wise, Col, 48:18; 6. Dengel, Val, 48:40; 7. Hernandez, Sol, 49:24; 8. M. Harro, 49:53; 9. Peters, 50:13; 10. Nyce, Ken, 50:26; 11. Picket, Col, 50:41; 12. Banas, Ken, 50:55; 13. Walton, Sol, 51:37; 14. King, Sky, 51:58; 15. Engel, Ken, 52:23; 16. Litzenberger, Sol, 52:32; 17. Turner, Col, 53:13; 18. Ford, Pal, 53:21; 19. Kaufman, Hom, 53:31; 20. Kauder, Col, 53:49; 21. Meyer, Was, 53:49; 22. Cox, Sky, 54:13; 23. Farrens, Hom, 54:20; 24. Moffett, Hom, 54:34; 25. Osborne, Sew, 54:41; 26. Hundertmark, Sol, 54:46; 27. Boyd, Ken, 54:50; 30. Dudley, Sky, 55:57; 31. Hack, Nik, 57:25; 33. West, Sky, 58:05; 36. Kneba, Sky, 59:11; 37. Swann, Sew, 59:22; 38. Hines, Hom, 59:39; 39. Chapman, Sew, 1:00:26; 40. Bardarson, Sew, 1:00:29; 41, M. Adams, Sew, 1:01:11; 43. Johnson, Nik, 1:02:45; 45. Hibberd, Sky, 1:03:18; 46. C. Adams, Sew, 1:02:28; 47. Moore, Sew, 1:03:50; 52. Lounsbury, Nik, 1:07:00.

Individual 10-kilometer freestyle results

1. Brent Knight, Sol, 25:58; 2. Zachary Hall, Nik, 26:16; 3. Daniel Harro, Sol, 26:38; 4. David Hernandez, Sol, 27:08; 5. Ross Wise, Col, 27:12; 6. Jeff Warner, Col, 27:15; 7. Mark Harro, Sol 27:30; 8. Bart Dengel, Val, 27:33; 9. Andrew Peters, Hom, 28:37; 10. Eric Nyce, Ken, 28:56.

Individual 7-kilometer classic results

1. Zachary Hall, Nik, 20:12; 2. Brent Knight, Sol, 20:47; 3. Jeff Warner, Col, 21:03; 4. Ross Wse, Col, 21:06; 5. Bart Dengel, Val, 21:07; 6. Daniel Harro, Sol, 21:08; 7. Eric Nyce, Ken, 21:30; 8. Andrew Peters, Hom, 21:36; 9. Preston Pickett, Col, 21:39; 10. Andy Banas, Ken, 21:41.


Team scores: 1. Skyview, 2:42:13; 2. Homer, 2:45:03; 3. SuV-Valley, 2:45:45; 4. Kenai, 2:50:32; 5. Soldotna, 2:51:14; 6. Grace, 3:00:52; 7. 3:04:50; 8. Colony, 3:07:13; 9. Seward, 3:17:53; 10. Nikiski, 3:18:52.

Individual overall results

1. Mannix, SuV, 37:40; 2. Abrahamson, 37:58; 3. Lambe, Sky, 38:22; 4. Moore, SuV, 38:49; 5. Habermann, Sky, 38:56; 6. Goldstein, Sol, 39:15; 7. A. Phelps, Hom, 399:46; 8. DeYong, Grace, 39:48; 9. Krusen, Ken, 39:59; 10. Semmens, Ken, 41:21; 11. Embick, Bal, 41:29; 12. Wiley, Sky, 42:02; 13. Ostermick, SuV, 42:39; 14. M. Phelps, Hom, 42:41; 15. Miller, Sky, 42:53; 16. Keller, 43:13; 17. Mohler, Sky, 43:24; 18. Glaser, Sew, 43:35; 19. Heimerl, Col, 43:41; 20. Smola, Sol, 44:02; 21. Thomas, Grace, 44:05; 22. Tarries, Sky, 44:33; 23. Strutz, Hom, 44:38; 24. Burck, Ken, 44:39; 25. Williams, Sol, 44:44; 26, Hagen-Lillivik, Ken, 45:09; 27. R. Wicox, Ken, 45:20; 28. Houghton, Sew, 45:25; 29. Ralston, Nik, 45:29; 33. Wood, Sky, 46:08; 35. Caswell, Sol, 46:16; 36. Mayer, Sol, 46:18; 40. Sinck, Nik, 47:02; 41. Amen, Ken, 47:21; 42. Boone, Hom, 47:24; 43. C. Wilcox, 47:26; 48. Migdal, Hom, 48:28; 51. Benson, Hom, 49:11; 57. Hall, Nik, 52:59; 58. Shoemaker, Sol, 53:20; 59. Ribbens, 53:30; 62. Hohl, Sew 54:41; 63. Apperson, Sew, 55:10; 64. Stoltz, Sew, 55:32; 66. J. Miller, Nik, 57:01; 65. S. Miller, Nik, 58:23;

Individual 7-kilometer freestyle results

1. Tazlina Mannix, SuV, 21:06; 2. Elisabeth Habermann, Sky, 21:20; 3. Syverine Abrahamson, Hom, 21:28; 4. Stephanie Lambe, Sky, 21:32; 5. Renae Moore, SuV, 21:58; 6. Rachel Goldstein, Sol, 21:59; 7. Jenna DeYong, Grace, 22:21; 8. Aleta Phelps, Hom, 22:44; 9. Natalie Semmens, Ken, 22:52; 10. Mary Krusen, Ken, 23:07.

Individual 5-kilometer classic results

1Syverine Abrahamson, Hom, 16:30; 2. Tazlina Mannix, SuV, 16:34; 3. Stephanie Lambe, Sky, 16:50; 4. Renae Moore, SuV, 16:51; 5. Mary Krusen, Ken, 16:52; 6. Aleta Phelps, Hom 17:02; 7. Rachel Goldstein, Sol, 17:16; 8. Jenna DeYong, Grace, 17:27; 9. Elisabeth Habermann, Sky 17:36; 10. Liz Embick, Val, 17:40.

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