The United States men's biathlon team finished sixth in the relay race on Friday in Russia at the World Championships. It was the first top-six finish for the U.S. team this season.
Lowell Bailey started the relay for the U.S. and tagged Kasilof's Jay Hakkinen in fifth place, just 23.5 seconds behind the leader. Hakkinen then tagged off in seventh place, 39 seconds behind the leader.
Tim Burke tagged off to Leif Nordgren in eighth place, and Nordgren moved up to sixth place in a photo finish.
"We all did our work and fought hard, and the sixth place showed the depth of this team is very strong," Hakkinen wrote on his website. "Most importantly, the podium was within sight, and looking towards the Sochi Olympics I believe we not only can win a medal, with good training this group can consistently be a dominant force. This relay gave us the confidence for that."
The strong finish could help Hakkinen in voting for the most popular biathlete, being done at www.biathlon-award.org/ranking.html. Hakkinen is currently in fourth place in the voting for the most popular biathlete.
The voting goes until March 20.
"I have a German, a Russian, and a Norwegian ahead of me, but I want the award to go to the U.S." Hakkinen wrote in an e-mail.
Kenai Central graduate Kailey Mucha and Soldotna junior Bree Mucha helped their teams to seventh- and 14th-place finishes, respectively, in a 3x3-kilometer classic relay on the final day of the USSA Cross Country Junior Nationals at Wirth Park in Minneapolis on Saturday.
The national championships are for skiers ages 15 to 20.
Kailey, who is a skier for the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, posted a time of 10 minutes, 41 seconds in her leg of the Older Junior race. Kailey's three-member Team Alaska squad finished in 32:54.8.
Team Midwest, made up of Elizabeth Ellis, Elizabeth Simak and Jessie Diggins, placed first in 30:43.2.
Meanwhile, Bree finished in 11:33.0 in the Junior 1 race for Team Alaska, which registered a cumulative time of 32:54.8.
Heather Mooney, Cambria McDermott and Corey Stock of Team New England took first with a time of 31:06.4.
Anders Nyquist, a Kenai Central grad, posted a time of 9:34.0 to help a mixed team to 12th place in the men's Older Junior relay.
Team Alaska finished in second place in the final standings with 883 points. Team New England earned first with 1,291 points.
A slew of central Kenai Peninsula players were recognized by Alaska Newspapers, Inc. on its all-state basketball teams for the 2010-11 season.
Kelsi Leif of Cook Inlet Academy earned a spot on the Class 2A girls first team, while teammate Megan Bauder was a second teamer. Sarah Geigel of Seldovia made the third team. Sarah O'Leary of Seldovia earned honorable mention.
Cook Inlet Academy's Matthew Moffis was named to the 2A boys first team, while teammate David Reischach was a second teamer. Sam Bennett of Ninilchik and Mark Fefelov of Nikolaevsk received honorable mention.
For the 3A girls, Chesley Clarke of Seward made the second team. Teammates Emily Draper and Meg Berry earned honorable mention, as did Makenzie Moore of Nikiski.
The 3A boys team included Seward's Andrew Buchanan, who was a first teamer, as well as teammate Keenan Prochazka, who was a second teamer.
Kenai Central's Raquel Young was the lone peninsula player to make the 4A girls team, receiving honorable mention. There were no peninsula players named to the 4A boys team.
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