Under sunny skies and before a crowd of cheering fans, the Homer Mariner girls varsity cross country team raced into first place at the Homer Invite Friday, with Soldotna in second and Kenai in third. The Mariner boys varsity team dashed into second place, with Kenai in first, Skyview in third and Soldotna in fourth.
“I was extremely pleased with how the meet went, certainly with how our teams performed,” said Homer Head Coach Bill Steyer.
In the girls varsity race, with 20 runners, Megan Pitzman was the first Homer runner to cross the finish, claiming third place with a time of 20:35. Kenai’s Allie Ostrander took first, with a time of 17:47.
On the boys varsity team, with 27 runners competing, Pedro Ochoa was the first Mariner to finish, with a third-place time of 17:32. In first place, Kenai’s Johan Theisen had a time of 17:20.
Homer’s junior varsity runners had top finishes, with Audrey Rosencrans and Mattea Peters in first and second place in the girls race, respectively. Rosencrans finished in 24:15 and Peters in 25:07. For the boys, Dakota Alward placed fourth in 20:31 and Calvin Johnson was in fifth with 21:05.
Also representing the southern Kenai Peninsula were six runners from Nikolaevsk. Megan Hickman was the school’s only varsity girl, finishing 19th with a time of 26:03. Greg Trail ran in the boys varsity. His 20:55 finish time gave him a 24th place finish. Jonah Fefelov was the school’s top finisher in the boys junior varsity race, with a third-place finishing time of 20:31.
The 4.7K Homer course provided plenty of viewing opportunities. It began at and crossed the lower field and then climbed to the upper field, where it circled through the trees and the upper field three times before descending back to the lower field and a loop to the finish line.
“We tried to make it really spectator friendly,” said Steyer. “There were the woods, hills, a little mud. I think it was kind of a fun course because it had a lot of variety. And it was fun to have the upper field where you could see the kids and see how the race was progressing.”
This week, Mariner runners compete at Anchorage Christian Schools on Friday and at the Palmer Invite on Saturday.
“(ACS) is kind of a class race, where they do freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors. We’re not going to race that hard because we’re saving it up for the next day, which is a good, large meet against some of our major competition,” said Steyer. “We’ll use the ACS meet as a tune-up run.”
Overall, Steyer said Homer’s XC team,especially the girls, is “very strong this year. We are hovering in the top five throughout Alaska, both in large and small schools.”
Steyer is looking forward to a chance to see how the team does against “perennial powerhouse” Grace Christian. Currently Grace Christian is ranked fourth overall, with Homer in fifth.
Friday’s win over Soldotna, who was short one of their top runners, gave Steyer hope.
“(Soldotna) is ranked a little stronger than both Grace and Homer,” he said. “We’ll be the underdog at state, a good place to be.”
Friday at Homer High School, results for southern peninsula schools
GIRLS TEAM RESULTS: 1. Homer, 30; 2. Soldotna, 38; 3. Kenai, 63
GIRLS INDIVIDUAL RESULTS: 3. Megan Pitzman, Homer, 20:35; 4. Aurora Waclawski, Homer, 20:48; 6. Molly Mitchell, Homer, 21:25; 8. Aziza Shemet Pitcher, Homer, 22:02; 9. Shenandoah Lush, Homer, 22:38; 10. Pam Jantzi, Homer, 22:46; 12. Lauren Evarts, Homer, 23:02; 19. Megan Hickman, Nikolaevsk, 26:03.
BOYS TEAM RESULTS: 1. Kenai, 21; 2. Homer, 27; 3. Skyview, 68; 4. Soldotna, 99.
BOYS INDIVIDUAL RESULTS: 3. Pedro Ochoa, Homer, 17:32; 8. Josh Vantrease, Homer, 18:18; 10. Brandon Beachy, Homer, 18:30; 11. Elias Graham, Homer, 18:58; 15. Jared Brant, Homer, 19:31; 18. August Kilcher, Homer, 19:46; 24. Greg Trail, Nikolaevsk, 20:55; 25. Antonia Ochoa, Homer, 21:09.