Photo by Jeff Helminiak Under the watchful eye of a moose, Kenai's Beverly Schindler whizzes around a turn Friday during the girls five-kilometer freestyle at the Region III Nordic Ski Championships at Tsalteshi Trails.

Area skiers compete at Region III ski meet

Sadie Fox and the Soldotna girls team managed to stay on track even without classic tracks Friday and Saturday at the Region III Nordic Ski Championships at Tsalteshi Trails.

Fox, a junior, won her first skimeister award, while the team title for the SoHi girls means the Stars have won on the girls or boys side going back to at least 2000, according to coach Dan Harbison.

On the boys side, Daniel Serventi of Grace repeated as skimeister, while Colony won the team title.

Due to periods of rain and balmy weather, central Kenai Peninsula skiers battled with low-snow conditions continuously this season. While there was usually enough snow cover to ski, it was impossible to set classic tracks.

The teams from the northern part of the region were able to get more practice time in classic tracks, and it showed in the results. In Friday’s five-kilometer freestyle girls race, SoHi won by over two minutes. In Saturday’s five-kilometer classic, SoHi was third but was able to use Friday’s cushion to keep the overall title.

“The biggest issue we’ve had is we haven’t been able to set tracks,” Harbison said. “That makes it really hard to work on technique because when you put the ski forward, there’s always uncertainty as to what is going to happen.”

Fox made sure there was no uncertainty as to the identity of the region’s best skier. She won Friday’s interval start by over a minute, then took an early lead and held it in Saturday’s mass start.

There were no classic track set on the course Saturday, either.

“It was hard to keep my skis together,” Fox said. “They were going all over the place on uphills.”

But with the lead she had, it didn’t matter.

“My teammates told me to go out fast, in case something happened, like a pole breaking,” she said. “I sprinted at the start and was able to hold that gap.”

SoHi’s Hannah Pothast was second in the overall, while Olivia Hutchings, Dani McCormick, Emily Werner, Molly Erickson and Xochi Harbison provided the depth needed for the title.

“It’s something we’ve been working toward all season,” Harbison said. “There were many warm days where it took effort to do something on snow, but they had the discipline to do that and it paid off.”

The Peninsula put a total of five girls in the top 10 of the overall, with Skyview’s Mika Morton taking fourth, Kenai’s Alex Bergholtz taking eighth and Homer’s Aspen Daigle taking 10th. Kenai’s Kirsten Nyquist was able to pull of a 10th-place finish in Friday’s freestyle.

“She’s starting to think about race strategy,” Skyview coach Kent Peterson said of Morton. “That’s important because it’s not just about technique. She also has great technique.”

On the boys side, Serventi credited his relationship with God with the victory.

“The races yesterday and today were both a very good gift from God,” he said.

Serventi said he hadn’t raced against the region this year due to cancellations and other racing commitments, but he took control of the proceedings from the outset, when he hammered up the vaunted “Kill Bill” hill shortly into Friday’s five-kilometer freestyle race. At 12 minutes, 56 seconds, he was the only racer to ski five kilometers in under 13 minutes.

He tried to be similarly aggressive in Saturday’s 7.5-kilometer classic, but when he tried to drop the field by pushing over the top of the massive hill on the Bear Loop, the pack hung on. The field strung out a little over the last kilometer, and Serventi won by clipping Colony’s Tracen Knopp by three seconds.

Kenai’s Travis Cooper was second heading into Saturday’s race, but he broke his pole on a climb at the start of the race. He got to the top and was given another pole, but ended up seventh in the classical race and seventh overall.

“Travis had a great race (Friday),” Kenai coach Brad Nyquist said. “It’s unfortunate what happened today. That shows the kind of skier he is and how much heart he has. He persevered and did as well as possible.”

The Kardinals, the top team from the Peninsula, had some designs on the team title heading into the race, but finished fourth behind Colony, Grace and Palmer. Due to so many meet cancellations, Nyquist said he did not know how strong those teams from the north were heading into the meet.

SoHi’s Levi Michael was the top Peninsula skier at fifth, while Homer’s Brian Rowe was ninth. Peterson said it was also great to see Brenner Musgrave finish 10th in Friday’s race.

Peterson was named the boys coach of the year, while Grace’s Jay Rowe was the girls coach of the year. It is the third time Peterson got the honor in his 19-year prep coaching career, which will halt — for now — after this season.

“It’s been a great finish to the season considering what we’ve been through this year with the conditions and the bus accident,” Peterson said. “The last few weeks everyone really focused on doing what it takes to do well in the races.”

This is also the final region meet that Skyview will be a part of before closing its doors in the spring. The school and Tsalteshi Trails are joined at the hip, because the construction and eventual opening of Skyview in 1990 spurred the idea to create the trails, which would go on to host multiple region ski events, state cross-country events and Arctic Winter Games events, as well as become a recreational hotspot for the area.

“Soldotna was the host, but a lot of what happened had to happen here,” Peterson said. “It was a great last two days of region racing for Skyview.”

Region III Nordic Ski
Championships

BOYS

Team times: 1. Colony, 2 hours, 23 minutes, 32 seconds; 2. Grace, 2:24:13; 3. Palmer, 2:31:27; 4. Kenai, 2:32:16; 5. Soldotna, 2:33:23; 6. Skyview, 2:40:00; 7. Homer, 2:49:16; 8. Wasilla, 2:55:04.

Overall two-day times

1. Daniel Serventi, Gra, 34:10; 2. Tracen Knopp, Col, 34:56; 3. Luke McLaughlin, Gra, 35:01; 4. Dawson Knopp, Col, 35:18; 5. Levi Michael, Sol, 35:20; 6. John Snelders, Pal, 35:21; 7. Travis Cooper, Ken, 35:25; 8. Brian Rowe, Hom, 36:19; 9. Lyon Kopsack, Pal, 36:32; 10. Trent Fritzel, Gar, 36:45.

Other peninsula finishers — 12. Colton Diehl, Sol, 37:10; 14. James Butler, Ken, 38:11; 15. Brenner Musgrave, Sky, 38:17; 21. Olen Danielson, Ken, 39:04; 23. Sky Schlung, Sky, 39:14; 25. Tanner Bestr, Sol, 39:29; 26. Fox Michaud, Ken, 39:36; 30. Josh Vantrease, Hom, 39:57; 32. Nate Mole, Ken, 41:06; 34. Daniel Shuler, Sky, 41:20; 35. Jeremiah Hudson, Sky, 41:21; 36. Addison Downing, Sol, 41:24; 38. Logan Hemphill, Sky, 42:05; 39. Drew Kant, Sol, 42:27; 41. Liam Floyd, Ken, 42:37; 43. Aaron Swedberg, Sol, 43:01; 44. Sterling Stasak, Sky, 43:07; 45. Caleb Corr, Sol, 43:37; 46. Nick Zweifel, Sew, 43:50; 48. Tian-en Liu, Hom, 45:05; 51. Ryan Navrot, Hom, 17:14; 52. Hoxie Parks, Hom, 49:47; 53. Tadhg Scholz, Hom, 50:35.

Top 10 from Saturday’s 7.5-kilometer mass start

1. Serventi, Gra, 21:13; 2. T. Knopp, Col, 21:16; 3. McLaughlin, Gra, 21:24; 4. Snelders, Pal, 21:29; 5. D. Knopp, Col, 21:31; 6. Michael, Sol, 21:34; 7. Cooper, Ken, 21:55; 8. Rowe, Hom, 22:11; 9. Kopsack, Col, 22:11; 10. Schafer, Col, 22:12.

Friday’s 5K freestyle results

1. Daniel Serventi, Gra, 12:56; 2. Travis Cooper, Ken, 13:29; 3. Luke McLaughlin, Gra, 13:36; 4. Tracen Knopp, Col, 13:39; 5. Levi Michael, Sol, 13:44; 6. Dawson Knopp, Col, 13:47; 7. John Snelders, Pal, 13:51; 8. Trent Fritzel, Gra, 14:05; 9. Brian Rowe, Hom, 14:08; 10. Brenner Musgrave, Sky, 14:16.

Other peninsula finishers — 12. Colton Diehl, Sol, 14:21; 13. Fox Michaud, Ken, 14:27; 15. Olen Danielson, Ken, 14:36; 17. Tanner Best, Sol, 14:40; 22. James Butler, Ken, 14:55; 24. Nate Mole, Ken, 15:01; 27. Josh Vantrease, Hom, 15:12; 28. Jeremiah Hudson, Sky, 15:14; 29. Sky Schlung, Sky, 15:15; 32. Liam Floyd, Ken, 15:24; 34. Logan Hemphill, Sky, 15:28; 37. Addison Downing, Sol, 15:39; 38. Daniel Shuler, Sky, 15:42; 40. Drew Kant, Sol, 15:48; 41. Aaron Swedberg, Sol, 15:53; 44. Caleb Corr, Sol, 16:17; 45. Nick Zweifel, Sew, 16:28; 46. Hoxie Parks, Hom, 16:30; 47. Sterling Stasak, Sky, 16:37; 48. Tian-en Liu, Hom, 16:44; 50. Ryan Navrot, Hom, 17:14; 51. Tadhg Scholz, Hom, 17:17.

GIRLS

1. Soldotna, 1:06:20; 2. Grace, 1:08:43; 3. Colony, 1:08:02; 4. Palmer, 1:08:55; 5. Kenai, 1:08:59; 6. Homer, 1:11:00; 7. Skyview, 1:16:51.

Overall two-day times

1. Sadie Fox, Sol, 33:24; 2. Hannah Pothast, Sol, 35:12; 3. Elle Arnold, Gra, 35:13; 4. Mika Morton, Sky, 35:16; 5. Greta Jenkins, Col, 35:18; 6. Kayla Rowe, Gar, 35:20; 7. Kiersten Johnson, Pal, 36:10; 8. Alex Bergholtz, Ken, 36:25; 9. Tatjana Spaic, Col, 36:27; 10. Aspen Daigle, Hom, 36:29.

Other peninsula finishers — 15. Kirsten Nyquist, Ken, 37:59; 19. Cassidy Soistman, Hom, 38:39; 20. Olivia Hutchings, Sol, 38:39; 21. Katie Cooper, Ken, 38:49; 24. Rachel Ellert, Hom, 39:03; 26. Dani McCormick, Sol, 39:08; 27. Molly Erickson, Sol, 39:29; 28. Emily Werner, Sol, 39:38; 29. Mikaela Salzetti, Ken, 40:01; 34. Mieka Chythlook, Sky, 41:32; 36. Xochi Harbison, Sol, 42:30; 37. Maddie Michaud, Ken, 42:31; 38. Beverly Schindler, Ken, 42:43; 39. Isabel Beach, Hom, 44:52; 41. Mariah Vantrease, Hom, 45:00; 43. Claire Swanson, Hom, 45:19; 44. Brittany Hollers, Sky, 47:20; 45. Sage Link, Sky, 49:40.

Top 10 from Saturday’s 5K classic mass start

1. Fox, Sol, 18:19; 2. Jenkins, Col, 18:40; 3. Rowe, Gra, 18:44; 4. Pothast, Sol, 18:54; 5. Morton, Sky, 18:54; 6. Arnold, Gra, 19:05; 7. Spaic, Col, 19:42; 8. Applegate, Gra, 19:52; 9. Johnson, Pal, 19:56; 10. Daigle, Hom, 19:57.

Friday’s 5K freestyle results

1. Sadie Fox, Sol, 15:05; 2. Elle Arnold, Gra, 16:07; 3. Kiersten Johnson, Pal, 16:13; 4. Hannah Pothast, Sol, 16:17; 5. Mike Morton, Sky, 16:21; 6. Alex Bergholtz, Ken, 16:26; 7. Aspen Daigle, Hom, 16:31; 8. Kayla Rowe, Gra, 16:35; 9. Greta Jenkins, Col, 16:37; 10. Kirsten Nyquist, Ken, 16:38.

Other peninsula finishers — 15. Rachel Ellert, Hom 17:19; 16. Dani McCormick, Sol, 17:25; 18. Olivia Hutchings, Sol, 17:31; 20. Cassidy Soistman Hom, 17:36; 22. Mikaela Salzetti, Ken, 17:41; 23. Emily Werner, Sol, 17:54; 26. Mieka Chythlook, Sky, 18:09; 27. Katie Cooper, Ken, 18:12; 29. Molly Erickson, Sol, 18:16; 31. Xochi Harbison, Sol, 18:29; 36. Maddie Michaud, Ken, 18:41; 37. Beverly Schindler, Ken, 18:46; 39. Mariah Vantrease, Hom, 19:32; 40. Claire Swanson, Hom, 19:38; 41. Isabel Beach, Hom, 19:42; 44. Brittany Hollers, Sky, 20:23; 46. Sage Link, Sky, 21:55.

Photo by Jeff Helminiak Skyview’s Mika Morton steps inside Lauren Tso-Wu of Grace Christian on Friday during the girls five-kilometer freestyle at the Region III Nordic Ski Championships at Tsalteshi Trails.

Photo by Jeff Helminiak Kenai’s Liam Floyd leads Soldotna’s Levi Michael and Homer’s Josh Vantrease up a steep hill shortly into the boys five-kilometer freestyle Friday at the Region III Nordic Ski Championships at Tsalteshi Trails.

Photo by Jeff Helminiak Soldotna’s Sadie Fox cruises to victory in the girls five-kilometer freestyle Friday at the Region III Nordic Ski Championships at Tsalteshi Trails.

Photo by Jeff Helminiak Homer’s Brian Rowe skis the final kilometer of the boys five-kilometer freestyle Friday at the Region III Nordic Ski Championships at Tsalteshi Trails.

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