It was another big weekend for the Homer Mariner cross country team, competing in Regions held in Seward on Sept. 28.
“It was an excellent meet,” said Head Coach Bill Steyer. “Highlights included a very strong performance by the boys varsity team to capture third place and qualify for state; a very close race for girls Region III 3A title against Grace Christian with Homer coming in second place and also qualifying for state; and Megan Pitzman winning the Girls 3A competition by a substantial margin of 40 seconds.”
Pitzman was named “Most Valuable Runner” for Region III 3A Girls Cross Country. Steyer also came home with a new title behind his name: Region III 3A Coach of the Year.
“The boys had a super strong performance. They really stepped it up and had some really good races,” said Steyer. “On the girls side, it was a really close race.”
In the boys’ team competition, Grace Christian took first and Anchorage Christian second, in front of third-place Homer. Pedro Ochoa was the first Homer finisher, also taking third place with a time of 17:15.76.
In the girls’ competition, with Grace Christian first and Homer second, it was Anchorage Christian that took third. Homer’s Megan Pitzman was the first to cross the finish line, setting a new personal record of 19:33.13.
“She’s unbelievable,” said Steyer. “She took 20 seconds off her time from her time two weeks ago. ... She hammered it.”
This Saturday, Homer competes against runners from across the state. Mariner boys that have qualified for state are Dakota Alward, Brandon Beachy, Jared Brant, August Kilcher, Pedro Ochoa, Josh Vantrease, Calvin Johnson, first alternate Maximiano Manque and second alternate John Sarmiento. The Mariner girls going to state are Lauren Evarts, Pam Jantzi, Molly Mitchell, Mattea Peters, Megan Pitzman, Ziza Shemet Pitcher and Aurora Waclawski.
“The ultimate goal is for the girls to win and our boys to have a solid third-place performance,” said Steyer. “But anything can happen. Who knows?”
The team leaves Friday morning, allowing time to practice on the unfamiliar course at Bartlett High School before the race.
Region III Championships
Seward, Sept. 28
Team and Homer results
Boys teams: 1. Grace Christian, 37; 2 Anchorage Christian, 46; 3. Homer, 76; 4. Seward, 98; 5. Skyview, 112; 6. Valdez, 160.
Boys individual: 3. Pedro Ochoa, 17:15.76; 11. Josh Vantrease, 17:54.03; 17. Jared Brant, 18:12.17; 19. Brandon Beachy, 18:21.74; 29. August Kilcher, 19:14.03; 31. Dakota Alward, 19:29.61; 43. Nahoa Jette, 21:08.31.
Girls teams: 1. Grace Christian, 24; 2. Homer, 31; 3. Anchorage Christian, 99; 4. Seward, 103; 5. Valdez, 105.
Girls individual: 1. Megan Pitzman, 19:33.13; 6. Aurora Waclawski, 20:50.67; 8. Molly Mitchell, 20:54.74; 9. Ziza Shemet Pitcher, 21:19.18; 11. Lauren Evarts, 21:38.68; 21. Mattea Peters, 24:36.20.