Homer Alaska - News

Story last updated at 7:21 PM on Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Mariner boys ski way to region title

By Lindsay Johnson
Staff Writer


David Rowe

Region champs, from left, Andre Lovett, Brian Rowe, Parker Sorensen, Kyle Wentz, Kevin Rowe, Josh Vantrease and Dan Adickes with Coach Jan Spurkland in front.

It took 52 years, but the Homer boys cross-country ski team now has a regional championship banner to hang next to the girls' in the gym.

"It's amazing because for so long the girls were so strong. And now the boys are doing great," said Larry Martin, a former Mariner skier and 1969 HHS grad.

The Mariners were in third place after the first race of the Region III conference championship meet at the Tsalteshi Trails in Soldotna last Friday.

In order to win, Homer's boys faced a sizable gap — 1 minute, 40 seconds — to close in Saturday's 10-kilometer freestyle race.

"For the boys to have won regions, each one of them had to put in their best race of the season," said Head Coach Jan Spurkland.

Friday night, the team gathered for a pep talk, watched a movie and were in bed by 10 p.m.

Saturday morning, the boys warmed up, waxed and went for it.

Through a mass start, immediate hills and a pack of junior varsity skiers on the trail, the Mariners closed the gap.

"With a kilometer left in the race we came upon a huge pack of JV skiers on a hill and came to a standstill, but other than that the races were awesome. The weather was great, the wax was great," said Andre Lovett, who finished .06 seconds behind first place Luke Michael of SoHi and .05 seconds behind Palmer's Schyler Knopp to take third with a time of 27:54.5.

"We had no idea who had gotten first or second," he said.

Parker Sorensen edged out Skyview's Braeden Holt for a fourth place finish in 28:10.1. Freshman Brian Rowe beat Intimayo Harbison to take sixth in 28:47.0.

"We all had the races of our lives," said Kevin Rowe, who broke two poles during the race and still finished 16th in 29:55.1.

Kyle Wentz finished 18th in 30:04.2, Josh Vantrease 39th in 32:19.2 and Dan Adickes 47th in 32:58.2.

The Ms didn't know how the times added up until the other teams had been presented at the awards ceremony.

"And then they announced that SoHi got second and we all went ballistic," Lovett said.

"I don't think they even got out that Homer won before we were clapping," Lady Mariner Alaine Miller said.

The boys won the region title by 16 seconds.

"They all had their best race of the year on Saturday and that was enough for them to squeak out a win," Spurkland said.

The team had another reason to celebrate when Spurkland was named coach of the year.

"It's just confirming what we've been saying for the past three years," Lovett said.

"He deserves it. He's a good coach," Sorensen said.

Spurkland said the award is a little mis-named.

"It's other coaches recognizing energy of a program, which in part is because of coaches, but it's more so because of athletes and parents' support. That's an award that's not recognizing a coach necessarily, but recognizing a program that really is showing a lot of energy and a lot of positive attributes and that, I think, is right on. I'm just happy to be a part of it," said Spurkland.

Having a post-collegiate ski racer for a coach and training on some of the most technically difficult trails in the region has helped the Mariners get to where they are, but the team also credits the support of the community.

"We have the best team parents of anyone," Rowe said.

From gourmet post-race buffets to a custom-built hot-box for ski waxing, parents provide a range of valuable services.

"We're pampered," Miller said.

The young Mariner girls team made strong strides Saturday, moving up two places to finish fourth in the region. In the 7.5-km freestyle race, all of the girls finished higher or equal to where they finished Friday's race.

Marie Schmidt placed ninth in 24:56.2; Cassidy Soistman 19th in 26:10.0; Alaine Miller 25th in 26:24.8; Mady Gerard 27th in 26:46.5; and Katie Schmidt 47th in 29:24.8.

Taylor Iredale took second in the girls 7.5-km junior varsity freestyle race on Saturday in 27:39.3.

Jake Worsfold was the fastest skier in the JV boys Saturday event, finishing the 10-km course in 33:13.9.

After a few days to rest and revel in the win, a group of varsity Mariners are back on the trail.

Starting today, six of the boys and six girls compete in the three-day state meet at the Birch Hill Recreation Area in Fairbanks.

"That was always the tough one for me. You get through with regionals and leave Wednesday to go to state," Martin said.

Based on their performance in early December at the Lynxx Loppett, where cross-country ski teams from the entire state competed in Anchorage, the boys have a shot at a top-five finish.

"I hope that they can recreate the focus they had for regions and put it into state," Spurkland said.

When skiing became Homer High's first interscholastic sport in 1959, there were only three other teams statewide, in Anchorage, Fairbanks and Juneau. The Mariners won state three of four times in the 60s, said former ski coach Dave Schroer, but it wasn't until the early to mid-90s that regional conferences were established.

While a plaque in the high school's trophy hall names the Mariner boys regional freestyle champs in 1997, there is no record of a boys combined regional championship before this year.

"I'm glad to see a resurgence of it. I'm glad to see the numbers and the support for the ski programs," said Schroer from his winter home in Arizona.

Lindsay Johnson can be reached at Lindsay.johnson@homernews.com.


Place, Name, Time

Varsity Girls 6-km classical

6, Homer 56:29.3

12, Marie Schmidt 13:13.0

19, Alaine Miller 13:48.1

35, Cassidy Soistman 14:37.8

41, Mady Gerard 14:50.4

46, Emily Schmidt 15:10.3

47, Katie Schmidt 15:31.1

Varsity Girls 7.5 km freestyle

4, Homer 1:44:17.5

9, Marie Schmidt 24:56.2

19, Cassidy Soistman 26:10.0

25, Alaine Miller 26:24.8

27, Mady Gerard 26:46.5

47, Katie Schmidt 29:24.8

Varsity Boys 10-km classical

3, Homer, 1:11:29.0

8, Andre Lovett 17:35.1

9, Parker Sorenson 17:40.8

10, Brian Rowe 17:44.2

25, Kevin Rowe 18:28.9

34, Kyle Wentz 19:11.2

46, Dan Adickes 19:52.2

58, Josh Vantrease 21:33.5

Varsity Boys 10-km freestyle

1, Homer, 1:54:46.7

3, Andre Lovett 27:54.5

4, Parker Sorenson 28:10.1

6, Brian Rowe 28:47.0

16, Kevin Rowe 29:55.1

18, Kyle Wentz 30:04.2

39, Josh Vantrease 32:19.2

47, Dan Adickes 32:58.2

JV Girls 6-km classical

14, Taylor Iredale 15:43.4

20, Lydia Arndt 15:58.2

33, Cassady Sheffler-Brennand 16:49.7

55, Casey Farrell 18:33.1

63, Kelsey Hass 20:36.0

68, Elisa Grajales 27:41.2

69, Ella Priliandini 30:42.1

70, Salma Hamed, 31:02.9

JV Girls 7.5-km freestyle

2, Taylor Iredale 27:39.3

11, Cassady Sheffler-Brennand 30:13.9

13, Lydia Arndt 30:20.0

59, Casey Farrell 39:25.3

61, Zumrati Ibrahim 47:13.8

62, Elisa Grajales 51:24.3

JV Boys 10-km classical

13, Jake Worsfold 21:14.3

22, Kyle Austin 22:23.3

34, Traven Apiki 23:55.0

55, Ismail Mohamed 27:29.3

JV Boys 10-km freestyle

1, Jake Worsfold 33:13.9

38, Kyle Austin 41:08.7

39, Traven Apiki 41:09.9