Some local teams are hoping to have one or two individuals qualify for the state cross country championships when runners convene at Colony High School on Saturday for the Region III meet.
Others, however, are striving to send entire teams to Palmer next Saturday.
Skyview coach Kent Peterson said despite competing in what he deems to be the toughest region in the state, he's hoping to send both his boys and girls teams to the final race of the season by placing in the top four Saturday.
And while it may be a long shot, he thinks it's still possible.
"To have both teams go would be great. It hasn't happened for a long time. I don't think both teams have gone since the early-to-mid 90s," he said. "We have a really great team this year so it would be nice to see them make it to state.
"I don't want to jinx it, but yeah, I think it's a real good possibility for both to go, especially if the girls are healthy."
He's referring specifically to senior Amanda Millay, who's nursing a sore ankle, and sophomore Ivy O'Guinn, who didn't compete in the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District championship last Saturday to rest her knee.
"Hopefully they'll be fine and be able to race," Peterson said. If they're healthy, "then I think (the girls team) should be in the top four."
Other members of the Skyview girls team include seniors Mallory Millay and Michaela Hutchison, junior Marquee Lucas, sophomore Kelsea Fowler and freshman Megan Janorschke.
"That's what the kids are shooting for," he said. "We've kind of been paying attention all season to where we've been in the region, and training with the goal to be able to race one more week at state for everybody."
The boys team, comprised of seniors Tommy Honer who won the borough race in Homer Keith Clancy, Anthony Silva and Scott Begins and juniors Mike Moerlein and Johnny Cook with the seventh spot up for grabs between seniors Anthony Guth and Alex Janorschke is also hoping to finish in the top four.
"Our guys are running a lot faster and getting a lot closer to running with Tommy Honer, and that will bring up the quality of our team and help our placing a lot," Peterson said.
Seward has similar goals for the Class 1-2-3A race.
"I believe we have a very good chance at taking two teams to state, both boys and girls," said Seahawks' coach Dan Marshall.
The girls, led by senior sisters Denali and Rubye Foldager, who won last year's region and state meet, respectively, probably have the better chance. But don't count the boys out just yet.
"Our girls are running very strong right now," Marshall said, "and our boys, they can slide into that No. 3 or No. 2 spot."
Other members of the girls squad include sophomore Allison Barnwell and her sister, freshman Mackenzie Barnwell.
Should the boys not qualify for state as a team, Marshall said seniors Matt Nyholm and Mark Chase and junior Travis Price should all advance individually by finishing in the top 15.
"I just think we can get our kids to state, and that's what we want to do," he said. "Our goal is not necessarily to win anything. It's to get qualified for the state meet."
Kenai coach Sandra Lewis said the Valley teams and Skyview will probably finish ahead of her girls' squad, but she also said Molly Watkins should place in the top five while Becca Ford will hopefully finish somewhere in the top 15.
"We'll do OK," she said, adding Dominick Eubank also has a chance of qualifying from the boys' side.
Homer is in the same boat.
Coach Paul Gutzler said his team's goal is to go to state, but a top five finish would still be great.
"The boys for Kodiak will do real well and Skyview," he said. "The girls teams, Skyview, Wasilla and the Valley schools have looked pretty strong the last couple of meets."
He said sophomore Garrett McCarthy finished 15th in the region at a Skyview meet earlier in the season and has a good chance of advancing to state.
He's also holding out hope that senior Anna Duz and sophomore Maggie McCarron can compete.
"They'd have to pull off a pretty amazing run but they're our top two girls runners," Gutzler said. "I'll give them that goal and see how they do."
First-year Nikiski coach Adam Anders isn't quite sure what to expect from the region meet, but said senior Thomas Wheeler could qualify.
"It's definitely a possibility for him," he said. "He's capable of it."
He also said sophomore Chris Richter and freshman Maddie Ralston have a shot.
Soldotna may have a few runners advancing to state as well.
The girls team finished fifth in the borough race, with Kailey Mucha leading the team with a seventh-place showing. Also for the Stars, Jenna Jensen took 12th, Amanda Smith finished 15th, Sarah Walton claimed 20th, Megan Gordon placed 26th and Emily Smola came in 31st.
Benjamin Widaman took fifth in the borough race in helping the SoHi boys to fourth place overall.
The rest of the boys team is made up of Josiah Modenhauer (14th), Aaron Julien (21st), Stryker McLane (25th), IntiMayo Harbison (32nd) and Jacob Ghormley (34th).
Cook Inlet Academy coach Ted McKenney also possesses lofty team aspirations for the Region II meet at Susitna Valley High School on Saturday.
And with good reason.
The CIA girls have been to state the last three years and are also the two-time defending region champions.
"My girls team should be able to get there," he said of senior Brooke Forsi, junior Holly Kopp, sophomores Sadie Arneson, Hilary Domke and Dani Rehm and freshman Kelsey Brush.
While the outlook for the boys appeared bleak earlier in the season, McKenney said they've really come on strong since midseason.
After edging Su Valley at the Su Valley Invite last weekend, he said if they are able to do it again, it could translate into a top-two finish and a trip to state.
If not, he said Josh Holly and Lars Arneson should place in the top 10 and go as individuals.
"They have an excellent shot at being in top 10, certainly," McKenney said. "If the rest of the boys do well, maybe we can squeeze both teams in."
Ninilchik is also competing in the Region II meet with Jefferson Klapak leading the way after his 22nd-place finish in the borough race. Chris Smith (37th) and Keith Harvey (39th) are also running for the boys while Shauna Sherbahn attempts to improve upon her 32nd-place showing at boroughs.
Matthew Carroll can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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