In the first cross country meet of the season, the Homer Mariners ninth- and 10th-grade girls team and the 11th- and 12th-grade girls team proved themselves team champions in Nikiski on Monday.
Homer’s Megan Pitzman finished first of 20 runners in the ninth- and 10th-grade 5K race with a time of 22.06. Finishing third of 10 in the 11th- and 12th-grade girls competition, Molly Mitchell was the first Mariner to cross the finish line with a time of 21.26. Kenai’s Allie Ostrander finished first in 17:31 and Soldotna’s Olivia Hutchings was second with 20.48.
“Our girls were a top-five team in the state last year,” said Head Coach Bill Steyer. “We’re hoping to be one of the top teams in the state again. That’s our goal. We certainly would like to win the small schools championship. That’s our top goal, for sure.”
In the boys’ competition, Kodiak won the championship for the ninth- and 10th-graders, with 33 runners competing. Kodiak’s Keith Osowski took first place with an individual time of 18.14, followed by his teammate Jack Hannah in 19.09. Homer’s Jordan Beachy was in third place and the first Mariner across the finish line, with a time of 19.39.
“Beachy is a really good freshman,” said Steyer of one of the school’s newest cross country runners.
Homer had no entries in the boys competition for grades 11 and 12. Kenai took the team championship, with Kenai’s Jonah Theisen completing the 5K course in 17.1.
The five-school competition included athletes from Homer, Kenai, Kodiak, Nikiski and Soldotna, and was held on what Steyer described as a “challenging, hilly course.”
Overall, Steyer said this year’s Mariner cross country team “has more depth than last year.” It numbers about 25 athletes, which includes seven freshmen boys.
“Some of them were running with Kachemak Bay Running Club’s youth running program,” said Steyer. “There are several that should be pretty fast.”
Among them are Beachy, Denver Waclawski and Jacob Davis, who came in sixth in this summer’s Spit Run.
“Those are three boys whose names you’ll be hearing,” said Steyer. “They’re pretty fast.”
There are new runners on the girls team, also: Rachel Seneff, Jalee Martushev and Alex Mosley.
Strong returning runners include Brandon Beachy and Jared Brant on the boys’ side. For the girls there’s Aurora Waclawski, Ziza Shemet-Pitcher, Lauren Evarts, Pitzman and Mitchell.
“I’m super excited about this year,” said Steyer. “Our girls are really strong, and our boys are right in there. They’re young, fast and hungry and that’s cool.”
The next meet for the Mariners is the Tsalteshi Invite in Soldotna on Saturday.
“That’s a really big meet,” said Steyer, expecting as many as 20 teams to compete. “It’s like the next biggest meet next to state.”
McKibben Jackinsky can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
2014 Nikiski Class Races Results
Girls team scores
Homer girls grades 9 and 10: 1. Megan Pitzman, 22.06; 4. Jalee Martushev, 23.30; 5. Alex Mosley, 24.19; 6. Audrey Rosencrans, 24.24.
Homer girls grades 11 and 12: 3. Molly Mitchell, 21.26;5. Ziza Shemet-Pitcher, 22.44; 7. Aurora Waclawski, 22.57.
Boys team scores
Homer boys grades 9 and 10: 3. Jordan Beachy, 19.39; 4. Jacob Davis, 20.05; 5. Denver Waclawski, 20.31; 10. Jaime Rios, 21.18; 13. John Sarmiento, 22.12; 16. Elan Carrol, 23.35; 19. Nick Gilliam, 24.11; 29. Jay Mason, 28.19; 30. Aaron Taliesin, 28.44.