Soldotna junior Ari Goldstein and Seward junior Whitney Anderson swept the girls races at the state cross country meet Saturday in Palmer with similar times and similar domination.
Goldstein used a fierce push midway through the Class 4A race to wither the field and win going away in 18 minutes, 45 seconds, in the sunshine and golden-leafed shade of the 5-kilometer course at the Michael Janecek Running Trails. Goldstein is the peninsula's first Class 4A girls champion.
Anderson ran 18:47 in the Class 123A race, topping runner-up Taz Mannix of Susitna Valley by 1 minute and 34 seconds. Her effort led the Seahawks to a runner-up performance in the Class 123A team race behind repeat champion Su Valley.
While most observers expected Anderson to command the small-schools race, the big-schools race was previewed as a tossup between five or six runners.
Goldstein's only loss to a 4A runner on the year came to Service senior Juliane Smith at the Skyview Invitational Anderson edged Goldstein at the borough meet and Smith came out and matched Goldstein for the first 10 minutes of Saturday's race.
But on a downhill, Goldstein felt Smith begin to falter and bolted ahead. By the 12-minute mark of the race, Goldstein had opened up a 20-second lead on Smith, who was running with her palms raised skyward as if to ask, "What happened?" She would end up seventh.
"Coach (Mark Devenney) said that I should go in the last 1,000 meters, depending on the pace," Goldstein said. "But midway through the race, when I was going down a hill and got a little bit ahead of her, I decided to go."
Goldstein led a parade of peninsula finishers into the top 10. SoHi junior Katie Franzmann was third, Homer senior Aleta Phelps was fourth and Kenai Central freshman Lauren Baldwin was eighth.
Devenney, fresh off a month of watching Goldstein and Franzmann go after each other in practice, was confident of big things Saturday.
"Ari has the heart of a lion," Devenney said. "She's just so competitive.
"When you have a couple of warriors training together like Ari at Katie, you're going to get some good results."
Goldstein improved to first after finishing 10th at state as a freshman and sophomore.
"I had a bad year last year during cross country mentally, but then I had an OK race at state," Goldstein said. "After that, I trained really hard for track, and then trained really hard for this season."
Franzmann, on a similar training program, improved on her 12th-place finish from last year. Soldotna finished sixth in the team competition behind a group of four juniors that should make the Stars formidable next year.
Homer, which finished eighth as a team, will return six of its seven members next season. The one loss will be Phelps, who improved on an 18th-place finish at state last year.
"It was my last race and I wanted to let it all hang out," Phelps said. "I usually don't start out as fast as I did today. It worked out pretty well."
Like the Mariners and Stars, Kenai also showed off youthful potential by finishing seventh in the team competition. The Kardinals do not have a senior on their team.
Baldwin avoided bad luck to pull off her top-10 finish. Baldwin had been hampered by a number of problems this year, including a bloody nose at the Palmer Invitational that caused her to finish 23rd. She felt good enough Saturday that she led the first 3 minutes of the race.
"They were going at a slow pace," Baldwin said of the leaders. "I was taller than them, so when I hit the downhills I let my legs go and got out in front.
"That felt good. It got my legs ready to run."
In the 123A race, Anderson continued her quick learning curve with running.
From the time she was 10 to the winter of her sophomore year, Anderson concentrated on downhill skiing.
But last year, starting with the track season, Anderson put down the skis in favor of running and has found instant success.
"As you get older in high school, you discover your talents and passions," Anderson said. "I've discovered running. I love the state of mind it puts me in."
Seward coach Dan Marshall said Anderson loves running so much the battle is not to make her train, but to keep her from training too much.
"I like just going out for an hour in the summer and running," Anderson said. "I run alone. I'm a self-dependent person."
Anderson pretty much ran alone Saturday. And her endurance is so solid that after winning, she ran the 100-yard length of the football field to cheer on her teammates. She got to the end of that 100-yard dash just as runner-up Mannix was beginning her final 100 yards to the finish.
"People always tell me that I could use that energy to do better in the race, but it doesn't work like that," Anderson said. "It's a different state of mind when you're racing than when you're finished and going to cheer on your teammates."
Finally, the Ninilchik girls team took seventh in the 123A team race and also got the 123A girls sportsmanship award.
ASAA/First Natioanl Bank State Cross Country Championships
Saturday at Michael Janecek Running Trail, Palmer
123A team results 1. Susitna Valley High, 34; 2. Seward, 54; 3. Grace Christian School, 84; 4. Delta, 120; 5. Bethel, 151; 6. Nome, 177; 7. Ninilchik, 188; 8. Petersburg, 189; 9. Wrangell, 212; 10. Valdez, 225.
123A individual results 1. Anderson, Whitney, Sew, 18:47.63; 2. Manniz, Taz, SuV, 20:21.26; 3. Ostermick, Melissa, SuV, 20:24.49; 4. Viltrakis, Lindsey, Eie, 20:37.62; 5. Martinez, Sarah, Gra, 20:44.44; 6. Embick, Maggie, Val, 20:46.54; 7. Barker, Ondrea, Gra, 20:52.12; 8. Tweto, Ariel, Una, 20:59.24; 9. Drumm, Amber, Eie, 21:04.90; 10. Streuli, Autumn, Pet, 21:05.62; 11. Thompson, Jen, SuV, 21:06.03; 12. Hermann, Sarah, Sew, 21:15.94; 13. Krepel, Kayti, SuV, 21:16.33; 14. Wilt, Hallidie, Una, 21:17.32; 15. Moore, Krystal, SuV, 21:22.90; 16. Moerlein, Katie, Nin, 21:27.19; 17. Glaser, Jolie, Sew, 21:37.09; 18. Clock, Anna, Sew, 21:45.25; 19. McDonald, Marilyn, Bet, 21:50.08; 20. Brown, Laurie, Wra, 21:50.44; 21. Glaser, Sarah, Sew, 21:53.73; 22. Talerico, Letita, Tri Valley, 21:54.88; 23. Moerlein, Kendra, Nin, 22:04.21; 24. Yukaluk, Helen, NS, 22:08.19; 25. Newton, Fanny Jo, KC, 22:09.53.
Other peninsula finishers 30. Hitchcock, Whitney, Nik, 22:20.79; 45. Rooper, Laura, Nik, 22:47.61; 63. Singh, Angela, Nin, 23:38.26; 65. Hetrick, Teal, Sew, 23:39.50; 66. Sela, Katie, Sew, 23:39.93; 88. Matson, Amanda, Nin, 25:51.40; 91. Leman, Krista, Nin, 93. Schnabl, Courtney, Nin, 27:37.94.
4A team results 1. East, 61; 2. Service, 64; 3. Juneau-Douglas, 95; 4. West Valley, 96; 5. Dimond, 123; 6. Soldotna, 126; 7. Kenai, 163; 8. Homer, 187; 9. Lathrop, 240; 10. Sitka, 266
4A team results 1. Goldstein, Ari, Sol, 18:45.77; 2. Stearns, Katelyn, Eas, 18:59.35; 3. Franzmann, Katie, Sol, 19:11.23; 4. Phelps, Aleta, Hom, 19:14.68; 5. Besh, Leah, Eas, 19:19.32; 6. Kennedy, Kendra, Service, 19:37.62; 7. Smith, Juliane, Service, 19:41.88; 8. Baldwin, Lauren, Ken, 19:42.36; 9. Thibodeau, Greta, Jun, 19:44.91; 10. Rorabough, Becca, WV, 19:54.90; 11. Martone, Megan, Service, 19:56.16; 12. Quinley, Elizabeth, Eas, 19:56.64; 13. Harvey, Jordan, Jun, 20:03.18; 14. Holdburg, Marissa, Dim, 20:04.69; 15. Holmes, Chelsea, Dim, 20:08.05; 16. Allman, Jessica, Eas, 20:08.75; 17. Copus, Cristina, Bartlett, 20:12.11; 18. Diel, Erin, Service, 20:12.77; 19. Rea, Emma, West, 20:13.76; 20. Gauna, Valerie, Kod, 20:14.35; 21. Bush, Megan, Jun, 20:15.76; 22. Miller, Casey, WV, 20:18.06; 23. Callahan, Maggie, WV, 20:19.39; 24. Moser, Jordan, Jun, 20:20.11; 25. Gillis, Christina, WV, 20:21.59
Other peninsula finishers 27. Hagen-Lillevik, Synneva, Ken, 20:25.23; 35. Rowley, Alee, Ken, 20:43.44; 36. Pankoski, Katy, Sol, 20:57.89; 39. McCartan, Rachel, Sol, 21:02.34; 42. Bird, Elena, Ken, 21:07.62; 44. Klaar, Erika, Hom, 21:12.41; 50. Mahan, Megan, Hom, 21:24.99; 53. Barker, Ariel, Sky, 21:33.14; 56. Arsenault, Katie, Hom, 21:48.40; 59. Mohler, Marci, Sky, 21:53.14; 62. Harrison, Hannah, Hom, 21:54.60; 65. Williams, Sierra, Sol, 22:18.92; 66. Spaeder, Johanna, Hom, 22:34.30; 67. Denna, Brandi, Sol, 22:35.33; 73. Oberg, Michelle, Ken, 23:04.66; 74. Cochran, Larissa, Ken, 23:10.13; 77. Coon, Audrey, Ken, 24:54.37.
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