Homer Alaska - Sports

Story last updated at 4:31 PM on Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Homer sweeps Palmer Invite

By McKibben Jackinsky
Staff Writer

Last week's storm toppled more than 100 trees in the Anchorage area and caused a cancelation of Friday's ACS Invitational, but the Homer Mariner cross-country team didn't let that slow their momentum.

In Saturday's Palmer Invitational, the Mariner boys and girls varsity teams stirred up their own kind of storm. With Grace Christian, described by Mariner cross country coach Bill Steyer as "a perennial powerhouse," competing as a 4A instead of a 3A school, and Seward, another strong school, not participating, Homer took advantage of the opportunity and seized an overall first place in 3A competition.

"It's pretty cool. We have a great team," said Steyer.

"We had some discussions with both varsity teams before the race and they knew they had an opportunity. They knew it was their race to lose and they rose to the occasion and everybody, everybody had stellar performances."

A "phenomenal" score of 20 stood out on the girls' side, said Steyer. It is a total of each athlete's place in the 5K race.

"The Homer girls are strong," said Steyer. "We had our typical one, two performances by Aurora Waclawski and Barea Hirsch, respectively, and then Rebecca Seneff had a terrific run."

On the boys' side of the action, Steyer said the key element was Jake Worsfold and Brandon Beachy.

"Those guys were the ones that really stepped up," said Steyer. "They actually were the key for us to come in first. They really stepped up to the plate and had terrific runs."

With region and state competition around the corner, the key to Homer's continued success will be avoiding critical injuries.

"That could change things," said Steyer.

To guard against that, most of the Homer runners maintained a summer running schedule. In addition, the first month of the season, they worked out with Mary Jo Cambridge of the Alaska Training Room.

"That's been really important for injury prevention," said Steyer.

"It allows for developing and strengthening muscle groups they wouldn't normally do with any one sport. It doesn't mean they won't have injuries, but it's designed with the hope of minimizing injuries."

The Mariner cross country team competes in borough championships on the Tsalteshi Trails at Skyview High School at noon Saturday.

"On the girls' side, SoHi and Kenai are strong. On the boys' side, Seward and Kenai are strong," said Steyer of where the competition will come from. "This should be fun."

Nikolaevsk also competed as a 3A school. The team finished in 12th place with 292 points and Blake Laich, running on the Nikolaevsk boys team, finished in the top 50 with a time of 19:08.

McKibben Jackinsky can be reached at mckibben.jackinsky@homernews.com.

Results for Palmer Invitational Sept. 8, Palmer High School

Region 1, 2, 3A girls team results (1) Homer 20; (2) Barrow 82; (3) Valdez 84; (4) Susitna Valley 86; (5) Hutchison 101; (6) Anchorage Christian 119.

Region 1, 2, 3A girls individual results

(3) Aurora Waclawski, 20:53; (5) Barea Hirsch, 21:09; (6) Rebecca Seneff, 21:39; (11) Pamela Jantzi, 22:10; (13) Valerie Mastolier, 22:13; (17) Sakota Mitchell, 22:50.

Region 1, 2, 3A boys results

(1) Homer, 55; (2) Delta, 84; (3) Anchorage Christian, 90; (4) Skyview, 105; (5) Valdez, 147; (6) Bethel, 161; (7) Unalaska, 174; (8) Eielson, 177; (9) Galena, 220; (10) Monroe, 238; (11) Barrow, 242; (12) Nikolaevsk, 292; (13) Chevak 321.

Region 1, 2, 3A boys individual results for top 50 finishers

(4) Peter Ochoa, 17:15; (5) Connor McCarron, 17:15; (8) Josh VanTrease, 17:46; (19) Jake Worsfold, 18:18; (24) Brandon Beachy, 18:24; (36) Blake Laich (Nikolaevsk), 18:55; (42) John Walsworth, 19:08.