The Kenai Central girls cross country team has turned Liz Burck into a historical fact-finder as well as coach.
At the beginning of the week, Burck was asked how long it had been since the Kardinals girls won a Kenai Peninsula Borough title in cross country.
The coach admitted she didn't know at the time, but Saturday, after her team scored 31 points to out-distance defending borough champion Skyview by nine, Burck was ready with the info.
"I did my homework," Burck said. "We haven't won since 1986. It's been 14 years."
In other highlights of Saturday's meet at the Nikiski Community Trials, the Soldotna boys won their third straight borough title, Skyview senior Erika Edwards grabbed her second borough trophy and Soldotna senior Andy Liebner broke through to win his first borough race.
While the 14-year drought was more than enough to motivate Kenai, the team also got a push from a little bit of recent history. Last year, the Kardinals also had a solid team but Skyview had an outstanding borough meet to keep the trophy from Kenai.
Saturday, the Panthers pushed hard to pull off a similar upset as Edwards finished first, Melina Hutchison finished fourth and Amy Lambe finished fifth.
However, Kenai countered by getting all of five of its scoring runners in the top 10. Katherine Amen finished second, Lindsey Church was third, Karli Knudsen was seventh, Shiloh Reilly was 10th and Roxanna Wilcox was 11th.
But Church pointed out that the whole team -- both boys and girls -- deserves credit for the win.
"When we're out there running, we have support throughout the entire race because the whole entire team is out there cheering for us," said Church, who was a 1-year-old the last time the Kenai girls won boroughs. "The other teams here didn't have that because they don't have 40 people out for their team."
In the race for the individual crown, Edwards established her quick tempo early and sustained it as the rest of the field folded.
"I wanted to stay with her for as long as I could and feel her pace," said Amen, who finished in 20 minutes, 51.3 seconds as opposed to Edwards' 19:37.4. "I lost her after the first mile.
"I'd like to keep up with her some day, but she's so fast it's amazing."
Like the rest of her team, Edwards showed Saturday she has improved this season. Her time was 37 seconds better than what she ran on the same course Aug. 18 in the first meet of the year.
"In practice, we've been working really well together as a team," Edwards said. "We've been doing some long-distance sprints in practice for one kilometer and that's been helping a lot. Instead of just doing sprints, these help us keep up the speed over a longer period of time."
In the boys race, Liebner shook off a cold to lead the Stars to another title. Liebner finished in 17:48.7 in a pack with teammates Kyle McBride (second, 17:49.3) and Brent Knight (third, 17:50.5).
Liebner said he picked up the cold in the middle of the week on a "mud run" out on Mackey Lake Road. He said the boys and girls teams had a competition to see who could get the muddiest during the run. While Liebner succeeded in getting muddy, he also succeeded in getting cold and sick.
"I'll feel better next week, but today I didn't feel too good," Liebner said. "This was my slowest time on this course."
Like Liebner, the Soldotna boys team was at less than full strength Saturday because two varsity runners were injured and another, Joe Blanchard, lost his shoe in the first 1,000 meters of the race and had to stop to put it back on. With all that chaos going on, David Hernandez, who normally runs junior varsity, stepped up into Soldotna's fifth slot and picked up a key 13th-place finish.
"It wasn't our best performance," said Soldotna interim coach Dan Harbison, whose team still won by 41 points. "Luckily, David was able to step up for us and we were still able to win."
Liebner, McBride, Knight and Bill Keller ran in a Soldotna pack that overtook Homer's Monte Garroutte and Andrew Peters with about a kilometer left. Garroutte finished fourth, Keller finished fifth and Peters was sixth.
"I didn't expect to be in front of those guys from Soldotna," Garroutte said. "They've been beating me all year. I just tried to get a big lead so they couldn't catch up but it didn't work."
Despite the solid finishes of Garroutte and Peters, Skyview edged Homer for second place by one point.
"Our guys raced a lot faster than they did the last time they were here," Skyview coach Kent Peterson said. "Most of them were about a minute faster. We talked in practice this week with them about running their own race instead of trying to run with a teammate.
"I think that might have helped. I don't know."
KENAI PENINSULA BOROUGH MEET
At Nikiski Community Trails
Team scores: 1. Kenai, 31; 2. Skyview, 40; 3. Homer, 81; 4. Seward, 87; 5. Nikiski, 136; 6. Ninilchik, 154.
Individual five-kilometer results
1. Erika Edwards, Sky, 19 minutes, 37.4 seconds; 2. Katherine Amen, Ken, 20:51.3; 3. Lindsey Church, Ken, 21:09.1; 4. Melina Hutchison, Sky, 21:45.7; 5. Amy Lambe, Sky, 21:53.1; 6. Ida Martin, Hom, 21:59.5; 7. Karli Knudsen, Ken, 22:09.9; 8. Rachel Goldstein, Sol, 22:15.3; 9. Aleta Phelps, Hom, 22:30.9; 10. Shiloh Reilly, Ken, 22:46.6; 11. Roxanna Wilcox, Ken, 22:59.1; 12. Mary Krusen, Ken, 23:17.6; 13. Hilary Bethancourt, Hom, 23:47.2; 14. Alecia Wood, Sky, 24:16.2; 15. Sam Rough, Sew, 24:24.8; 16. Ella Olsen, Nik, 24:33.7; 17. Sarah Hermann, Sew, 24:34.5; 18. Michelle Trumpler, Sky, 24:35.9; 19. Erin Conant, Sew, 24:39.3; 20. Kelly Houghton, Sew, 24:39.5; 21. Marion Glaser, Sew, 24:41.7; 22. Sam Carlon, Sky, 24:49.5; 23. Katherine Mooter, Sew, 24:56.9; 24. Monica Fouts, Sew, 25:18.0; 25. Tawni High, Hom, 25:34.0.
26. Brittany Sebastain, Sky, 25:41.7; 27. Jenifer McCard, Sol, 25:55.6; 28. Liz Lettington, Nik, 26:10.7; 29. Emilee Gillaspie, Nik, 26:24.7; 30. Heidi Keller, Sol, 26:27.1; 31. Gretchen Garroutte, Nin, 26:36.9; 32. Bridgette Cuffe, Nin, 26:42.4; 33. Melissa Deiman, Nin, 26:47.5; 34. Emily Farrens, Hom, 26:54.4; 35. Jenny Miller, Nik, 26:54.6; 36. Whitney Leman, Nin, 26:56.2; 37. Katie Moerlein, Nin, 26:58.2; 38. Janelle Moerlein, Nin, 27:11.0; 39. Aurora Zinck, Nik, 28:55.5.
Team scores: 1. Soldotna, 24; 2. Skyview, 65; 3. Homer, 66; 4. Kenai, 84; 5. Nikiski, 107; 6. Ninilchik, 168.
Individual five-kilometer results
1. Andy Liebner, Sol, 17:48.7; 2. Kyle McBride, Sol, 17:49.3; 3. Brent Knight, Sol, 17:50.5; 4. Monte Garroutte, Hom, 17:57.8; 5. Bill Keller, Sol, 17:58.5; 6. Andrew Peters, Hom, 18:18.1; 7. Jacob La Shot, Ken, 18:35.6; 8. Adam Tressler, Sky, 18:45.2; 9. Ryan Wicker, Nik, 19:02.8; 10. Leon Galbraith, Sky, 19:03.1; 11. Zack Hicks, Ken, 19:14.7; 12. Travis Kaufmann, Hom, 19:22.1; 13. David Hernandez, Sol, 19:22.5; 14. Storman Norman, Sky, 19:35.2; 15. Grant Gephardt, Sky, 19:38.2; 16. Quincy Bird, Nik, 19:40.0; 17. Jake Hawkins, Hom, 198:44.5; 18. Micah Mohler, Sky, 19:46.5; 19. Dag Tacey, Sky, 19:47.0; 20. Tim Kirby, Ken, 19:50.9; 21. Severin Lillevik, Ken, 19:51.6; 22. John Rooper, Nik, 20:01.7; 23. Jacob Fellman, Sky, 20:05.8; 24. Rueben Floyd, Nik, 20:09.7; 25. Micah Houtz, Ken, 20:15.8.
26. Dustin McBride, Sol, 20:16.6; 27. Ivan Heimbech, Hom, 20:18.1; 28. Josh Smith, Nin, 20:28.6; 29. Greg Landua, Ken, 20:29.5; 30. Morgan Saltenberger, Ken, 20:37.5; 31. Joe Blanchard, Sol, 20:40.9; 32. Dave Boyle, Nin, 20:47.7; 33. Seth Price, Sew, 21:04.8; 34. Trent Foldager, Sew, 21:06.1; 35. Lloyd Schaefermeyer, Sew, 21:17.9; 36. Chris Kruzick, Nin, 21:20.1; 37. Derek Ball, Hom, 22:07.5; 38. Josh Coots, Sew, 22:15.7; 39. Van Hawkins, Hom, 22:35.3; 40. Dan Gerhauser, Nik, 23:32.3; 41. Vincent Kruzick, Nin, 23:56.2; 42. John Paul Russo, Nin, 26:58.2.
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