The Mariner girls, led by the fourth-place overall finish of Aleta Phelps, earned their state berth as the third-place 4A team at the Region III Cross Country Championships held Saturday at Tsalteshi Trails behind Skyview High.
The Soldotna girls took first place, while Colony was runner-up.
On the boys side, Palmer took the Region III title behind the outstanding brother combination of Aaron and Drew Dickson, who finished first and second, respectively, with times of 16:44 and 16:53. The top peninsula finisher was Kenai's Mick Boyle, taking sixth behind Palmer's Rory Egelus.
Homer's Monte Garroutte finished 10th with a time of 17:45 and will be the lone Mariner boy making a state appearance.
Garroutte said his legs gave out early in the race.
"This is like my worst race," he said. "I felt good for the first kilometer. But then I kind of died. I usually run up from behind people, and today they were passing me."
Homer coach Daryl Farrens said Garroutte would put his best foot forward in Palmer, however.
"He's saving it for state," Farrens said.
And for the second-straight season, the Mariner girls will be saving something for the season's ultimate competitive showcase.
Phelps said that although she was out of the race for first through third place, she had a struggle of her own to overtake Soldotna's Ari Goldstein to earn her fourth-place finish.
"I was pretty sure I wasn't going to get up there with Marci (Mohler of Skyview)," Phelps said.
"When I caught Ari, I knew we would be battling it out for fourth. But my biggest hope (was) that the girls team (could) go to state."
Goldstein finished seventh.
Farrens said his girls' second-place showing at the borough meet last week showed the rest of the field, as well as his team, what Homer was capable of doing.
"We surprised a couple of folks at the boroughs last week," Farrens said.
"That kind of surprised us, too. We knew there were going to be four or five teams in the hunt.
"These girls ran a good race, and they all cut time off their last Skyview times. For state, we'll do a little bit of speed work the first couple of days and then ease off. Then, we'll go up there and try to catch Colony and Soldotna."
Peninsula Clarion reporter Marcus K. Garner and Homer News reporter Sepp Jannotta contributed to this story.