Chugiak's Nordic ski team was already well-known around Alaska as a group to be reckoned with. Now the Mustangs have proven themselves to the nation.
Six current Chugiak students and one former Mustang combined for 11 Top-10 finishes at the recent USSA Junior National Championships held in Minneapolis. The strong Chugiak contingent helped Team Alaska finish second in the race for the "Alaska Cup," which goes to the U.S. region with the top-performing skiers at the Junior Olympics. Team New England won the cup at the weeklong event.
When broken down by high school affiliation, Chugiak's athletes more than held their own against the best prep schools in the nation. The Mustangs' state-champion girls team finished third overall, while the boys team was sixth.
Chugiak freshman Sarissa Lammers won a national championship on the final day of competition on March 12, teaming up with Anchorage's Mackenzie Flynn and Marion Woods to win the J2 girls relay race. The showing was one of three podium finishes on the day for Team Alaska, which also got a second-place finish when Chugiak senior Kinsey Loan teamed with former Mustang Alyson McPhetres and Service's Mackenzie Kanady to place second in the OJ girls relay race.
Chugiak junior Isaac Lammers also earned a podium spot when he joined Fairbanks' Logan Hanneman and Anchorage's Forest Mahlen on Alaska's third-place J1 boys relay team.
Kinsey Loan had the top individual performances among the Chugiak contingent. Loan won silver in the women's OJ sprint competition, bronze in the OJ 5-kilometer freestyle race and was 18th in the OJ classic event.
Loan's younger brother, sophomore Alex, also had a strong week, placing 19th in the J2 boys sprints, 18th in the classic race and 20th in the individual freestyle race.
The Lammers family got two individual podium finishes on the week. Isaac earned a silver medal with his runner-up finish behind Hanneman in the J1 boys classic race, while Sarissa was third in the J2 girls freestyle event. Isaac Lammers also finished eighth in the J1 sprint races.
Not to be outdone, the McPhetres clan (Alyson, Krysti and David) also had its share of strong performances. Alyson, a 2010 Chugiak grad who attends the University of Alaska Fairbanks, was fifth in the OJ freestyle race, 12th in the classic race and 17th in the sprints. Younger sister Krysti was 20th in the J1 girls sprints, 10th in the classic and 24th in freestyle. The youngest McPhetres at the games was freshman David, whose best showing came in the individual freestyle race, where he was 16th among J2 boys.
Chugiak senior Ben Fitzgerald, the only member of Team Chugiak to travel to Minneapolis without at least one sibling, had his best day in the OJ classic race, where he finished 14th. Fitzgerald also skied a leg on Team Alaska's fifth-place relay team.
Complete results can be found at www.jo2011.com/results
This article published in The Alaska Star on Thursday, March 17, 2011.