Both the Kenai Central girls and the Soldotna boys were heavy favorites heading into Saturday's Kenai Peninsula Borough Meet at Tsalteshi Trails, so it's no surprise Kardinals coach Liz Burck and Stars coach Mark Devenney were ecstatic after the meet.
What they were ecstatic about, however, was a little surprising.
The Soldotna girls and the Kenai Central boys finished second at the meet to complement first-place finishes by the Kenai girls and Soldotna boys.
The Stars girls finished second after not even fielding a team last year at the borough meet. Keying the effort was a second-place finish by Jessica Weimer, a fourth from Ari Goldstein and a fifth from Rachel Goldstein.
"I told you we'd be pretty good at the beginning of the year," said Devenney, who doesn't have any seniors on his girls team. "I'm really pleased with the way they ran, especially the top three.
"For Rachel Goldstein, it was the best competitive race she's run."
The breakthrough of the Kenai boys was so big that Burck broke into spontaneous dance when asked about it. Amongst borough teams, the Kardinals had not finished second at any race this year until Saturday. Kenai had two -- Trevor Baldwin (seventh) and Mick Boyle (ninth) -- in the top 10.
"After all of the races, we'd sit down and analyze where our runners would have to be to finish second at boroughs," Burck said. "Our guys came to the line today knowing who they had to stay with, and who they had to beat, and they did it."
Of course, the stage for the good mood of Devenney and Burck had already been set by their borough champions.
The Soldotna boys scored a microscopic 21 points to win their fourth straight borough championship. The victory was special for Soldotna's seniors, who ran competitively for the last time at Tsalteshi Trails, the site of their two state championships.
"It was our last Skyview race, so we wanted to make a statement," senior Brent Knight said.
The Stars left little doubt who would control the race when 1 kilometer in to the 5-kilometer event, the first seven runners were all from Soldotna.
Soldotna ended up with five in the top eight, with Kyle McBride first, Knight third, Ben Histand fourth, Bill Keller fifth and Joe Blanchard eighth.
"I remember four years ago when the seniors were freshmen and the goal was to win boroughs, then possibly qualify for state," Devenney said. "This was a good chance for them to say goodbye.
"This course is special to them. They train here three times a week."
The only one to interrupt the party of seniors McBride, Knight, Histand and Keller at the top of the race was Homer sophomore Monte Garroutte, who finished second.
"Brent Knight is kind of a legend on our team," Garroutte said. "After every race, we're always talking about how we almost beat him this time.
"It felt great to finally beat him."
In the girls race, the Kardinals placed all seven of their runners in the top 15 to take their second straight borough title. The scorers were Katherine Amen at third, Natalie Semmens at ninth, Synneva Hagen-Lillevik at 10th, Karli Knudsen at 11th and Roxanna Wilcox at 13th.
In the race for the individual title, Skyview freshman Marci Mohler steadily pulled away from Weimer and Amen to win in 19:35.
Mohler's time at Tsalteshi was 53 seconds better than at the Skyview Invitational, which was in the second week of the season.
Mohler was in third at the Skyview Invitational until a long uphill 4 kilometers into the race. She got a side ache on the hill and ended up finishing sixth.
Skyview's Marci Mohler leads Kenai's Katherine Amen and Soldotna's Jessica Weimer past devil's club in fall colors one kilometer into Saturday's borough championship at Tsalteshi Trails. Mohler won the race, Weimer placed second and Amen finished third.
Photo by M. SCOTT MOON
"I tried to think about that as little as possible during the race today," Mohler said. "I wanted to keep it from happening again."
Mohler won the borough cross country title as a seventh- and eighth-grader, but said she didn't expect to come in as a freshman and win boroughs again.
Like Mohler, Weimer, a sophomore who didn't race as a freshman, was pleased with her finish.
"I raced as hard as I could," Weimer said. "When I came out this year, I didn't think that as a sophomore I'd get second in the borough."
Kenai Peninsula Borough Meet
At Tsalteshi Trails behind Skyview High School
Team scores: 1. Kenai Central, 41; 2. Soldotna, 57; 3. Seward, 61; 4. Homer, 90; 5. Nikiski, 120.
Individual 5-kilometer results
1. Marci Mohler, Sky, 19:35; 2. Jessica Weimer, Sol, 20:12; 3. Katherine Amen, Ken, 20:27; 4. Ari Goldstein, Sol, 21:22; 5. Rachel Goldstein, 21:33; 6. Melanie Mach, Hom, 21:42; 7. Sarah Hermann, Sew, 21:43; 8. Kelly Houghton, Sew, 21:44; 9. Natalie Semmens, Ken, 21:52; 10. Synneva Hagen-Lillevik, Ken, 21:53; 11. Karli Knudsen, Ken, 22:09; 12. Syverine Abrahamson, Hom, 22:19; 13. Roxanna Wilcox, Ken, 22:21; 14. Michelle Edwards, Ken, 22:35; 15. Elena Bird, Ken, 22:57; 16. Katie Sela, Sew, 23:08; 17. Marion Glaser, Sew, 23:08; 18. Anna Clock, Sew, 23:25; 19. Jolie Glaser, Sew, 23:32; 20. Lily Sloth, Hom, 23:34; 21. Zara Lounsbury, Nik, 23:40; 22. Katie Floyd, Nik, 23:53; 23. Sierra Williams, Sol, 23:54; 24. Elsa Gaule, Sew, 24:05; 25. Melissa Deiman, Nin, 24:08.
26. Katie Moerlein, Nin, 24:13; 27. Emilee Gillaspie, Nik, 24:24; 28. Samantha Halpin, Hom, 24:37; 29. Whitney Leman, Nin, 24:39; 30. Anjani Salonen, Nik, 24:45; 31. Brandi Denna, Sol, 24:52; 32. Michelle Trumpler, Sky, 25:24; 33. Heidi Keller, Sol, 25:38; 34. Janelle Moerlein, Nin, 26:32; 35. Jessica Ralston, Nik, 26:47; 36. Heather Strutz, Hom, 27:09; 37. Jenny Miller, Nik, 28:18; 38. Eleisha Tarries, Sky, 28:58; 39. Jenny Garrison, Nik, 29:01.
Team scores: 1. Soldotna, 21; 2. Kenai Central, 79; 3. Nikiski, 84; 4. Homer, 87; 5. Seward, 110; 6. Skyview, 165.
Individual 5-kilometer results
1. Kyle McBride, Sol, 16:55; 2. Monte Garroutte, Hom, 17:10; 3. Brent Knight, Sol, 17:12; 4. Ben Histand, Sol, 17:23; 5. Bill Keller, Sol, 17:40; 6. Travis Kaufman, Hom, 17:48; 7. Trevor Baldwin, Ken, 17:58; 8. Joe Blanchard, Sol, 18:02; 9. Mick Boyle, Ken, 18:08; 10. Andrew Peters, Hom, 18:09; 11. Ryan Wicker, Nik, 18:20; 12. Evan Haupt, Sol, 18:28; 13. David Hernandez, Sol, 18:31; 14. John Rooper, Nik, 18:36; 15. Anthony Sykes, Nik, 18:43; 16. Seth Price, Sew, 18:58; 17. Joey Wicker, Nik, 19:00; 18. Chris Amen, Ken, 19:04; 19. Matt Adams, Sew, 19:08; 20. Tom Blair, Sew, 19:10; 21. James Hilbish, Sky, 19:11; 22. Morgan Saltenberger, Ken, 19:18; 23. John McGlasson, Ken, 19:38; 24. Clifford Cochran, Ken, 19:38; 25. Leif Bardarson, Sew, 19:47.
26. Eric Nyce, Ken, 19:48; 27. Rustin Hitchcock, Nik, 19:50; 28. Brad Homson, Nik, 19:52; 29. Anthony Lorenzo, Nik, 19:52; 30. Trent Foldager, Sew, 20:08; 31. Josh Coots, Sew, 20:33; 32. Nick Thayse, Sew, 20:38; 33. Mike Farrens, Hom, 20:44; 34. Brian Hibberd, Sky, 20:44; 35. Noah King, Sky, 20:48; 36. Travis Hines, Hom, 20:51; 37. Damian Andersen, Sky, 20:53; 38. Vincent Kruzick, Nin, 21:21; 39. Gabe Fellman, Sky, 21:24; 40. Jacob Gautier, Sky, 21:32; 41. Jesse Hostetter, Nin, 21:39; 42. David Thornton, Sky, 21:42; 43. Cam Poindexter, Hom, 22:02; 44. Levi Russell, Nin, 22:57; 45. John Paul Russo, Nin, 22:58.
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