Chugiak's Isaac Lammers outraces Lathrop's Ryer Kornkven (right) and Service's Garth Schulz during the Bartlett Invitational. Lammers finished eighth in the boys varsity race
STAR PHOTOs by matt tunseth
Now it's getting serious.
Cross country runners were all business on Saturday, Aug. 20 when the Bartlett Invitational officially kicked off the season with one of the year's largest meets.
"We've got a lot of freshmen, and for some of them they've never run in a race with this many people," said Eagle River coach Jacob Bera. "For some of them it was an eye-opener."
More than 700 runners from 25 high schools competed in open, junior varsity and varsity races contested on a 5-kilometer loop on Bartlett's trails. Class races were held at Chugiak last weekend, but many athletes had too few practices to officially compete. Not this week, as many of the state's top runners got to see where they stack up against their peers.
Lathrop's Kyle Hanson won the boys varsity race in 16 minutes, 26.7 seconds, while Service's Jenette Northey won the girls race in 19:20.9
Chugiak's Isaac Lammers was the area's top finisher. Lammers, a senior, was eighth despite missing a number of early season workouts with a cold.
Lammers, one of Alaska's top junior Nordic skiers, said Bartlett's course was a bit slippery but fun.
"It was a great course. Lots of hills, which is where I excel," he said.
Lammers and teammate David McPhetres jostled back-and-forth throughout the race said assistant coach Sarah Radonich.
"They worked really well together, one of them would lead and then they would trade off," she said.
Lammers and McPhetres joined teammates Tim Sorensen (25th), Chris Kveseth (43rd) and Joe Rutz (105th) to help the Chugiak boys finish sixth out of 15 boys teams in the race.
That wasn't the best local showing of the day. With four runners in the top 23 places, the Eagle River girls announced loud and clear that they're no longer content to hang at the back of the pack. Senior Evy Hail led the Wolves in 15th, followed closely by freshman Nikki Boggs (17th), junior Hannah Stevens (19th) and freshmen Sierra Richardson (23rd) and Shayna Wolery (55th).
"The girls had a really good race," Bera said.
Though many of the state's top programs were in attendance at Bartlett, Bera said his young squad still has a lot of work ahead.
"There's some real tough teams in the region and state, so we've got our work cut out for us," he said.
Eagle River's boys team is also young and talented, but the squad was overwhelmed by the depth of the Bartlett field. Juniors Brandon King (15th) and Ben Smith (36th) led the way, but they were the only Eagle River boys to crack the top-50 for the tenth-place Wolves.
Eagle River's Nikki Boggs (632) and Hannah Stevens make their way up a hill. Boggs was 17th and Stevens was 19th for the fourth-place Eagle River girls.
"I think some of these bigger races are nice because they humble a few of them," Bera said. "They work hard, but they realize there's other people on other teams that are working just as hard or harder."
Bera said he's trying to get his athletes to realize how much hard work both mental and physical cross country runners must put in to reach the top.
"That's the biggest thing we want is the kids reflecting on their performance and thinking how they can improve," he said.
Chugiak's girls team limped home in 12th place among varsity girls. The Mustangs were hurt by the loss of junior Sam Hartke, who pulled out early in the race with a sore shin.
Rodinch said she's hopeful the team's top female athlete will be ready when teams travel to Soldotna for this weekend's Skyview Invitational.
"That was unfortunate, but we're happy she pulled out and didn't race," Rodinch said.
Another large field is expected on the Kenai.
"Everybody will be at Skyview," Rodinch said.
Contact Matt Tunseth at 694-2727 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Team scores 1. Lathrop 73, 2. Kodiak 78, 3. Service 89, 4. Palmer 100, 5. Grace Christian 138, 6. Chugiak 195, 7. Anchorage Christian 249, 8. West 252, 9. Colony 263, 10. (tie) Eagle River and Dimond 271, 12. East 292, 13. South 336, 14. Valdez 401, 15. Bartlett 554,
Top 15 1. Kyle Hanson, Lathrop, 16:27.6; 2. Max Romey, Ser, 16:48.4; 3. Mason Minturn, Pal, 16:52.6; 4. Chris Osiensky, Pal, 16:56.8; 5. Levi Thomet, Kod, 16:59.5; 6. Cole Christiansen, Kod, 17:00.7; 7. Miles Knotek, Sew, 17:04.7; 8. Isaac Lammers, Chu, 17:17.3; 9. Ryer Kornkven, Lath, 17:18.0; 10. Garth Schulz, Ser, 17:18.9; 11. John Farr, East, 17:24.6; 12. Lucas Schlemme, Ser, 17:27.1; 13. Derrek Deal, Kod, 17:29.0; 14. David Mcphetres, Chu, 17:30.1; 15. Brandon King, ER, 17:32.0.
Other Chugiak/Eagle River 25. Tim Sorensen, Chu, 18:05.8;36. Ben Smith, ER, 18:23.1; 43. Kris Kveseth, Chu, 18:28.9; 51. Alec Smith, ER, 18:40.3; 82. William Hail, ER, 19:33.5; 87. Bryce Wolery, ER, 19:38.7; 100. Eric Guinn, ER, 20:10.9; 105. Joe Rutz, Chu, 20:43.3; 107. Tyler Foster, Chu, 20:48.8; 108. Gus Frankl, ER, 20:49.5; 112. Nathan Dennis, Chu, 21:13.7.
Team scores 1. West 85, 2. South 118, 3. Wasilla 124, 4. Eagle River 129, 5. Dimond 134, 6. Grace 138, 7. Colony 154, 8. Lathrop 185, 9. East 250, 10. Kodiak 251, 11. Service 315, 12. Chugiak 431,