Erika Arthur takes control of the junior-senior girls race right from the start Friday, Sept. 4, 2020, at the Nikiski Class Races at Nikiski High School in Nikiski, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Erika Arthur takes control of the junior-senior girls race right from the start Friday, Sept. 4, 2020, at the Nikiski Class Races at Nikiski High School in Nikiski, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Central peninsula runners start season

Nikiski serves up hilly course

Kenai’s Jayna Boonstra, Homer’s Seamus McDonough, Soldotna’s Erika Arthur and Kenai’s Maison Dunham did the best job of social distancing Friday at the Nikiski Class Races.

All won their races by healthy margins at the season-opening meet for central peninsula cross-country teams. Due to having lower COVID-19 numbers early in the season, Homer and Seward were already running in their third race of the season.

The Mariners showed a promising future by winning the team title in both the freshman-sophomore girls and freshman-sophomore boys races. Soldotna took the junior-senior girls title, while Seward’s strong crop of senior boys led the Seahawks to the junior-senior boys title.

Central peninsula athletes were happy to see their training finally pay off with some racing.

“If we couldn’t have had sports this school year, it wouldn’t have been anything,” Arthur, a senior, said. “I’m happy just to have it.”

Arthur ran the hilly 5K in 21 minutes, 51 seconds, for the win, while teammate Jordan Strausbaugh was next.

“I’m very glad we have sports,” Strausbaugh said. “If we didn’t have sports, I wouldn’t be looking forward to doing school or anything. Running is such a fun sport in the fall.”

Strausbaugh still had not decided if she would run with five minutes until the start due to sore shins. She decided to run, but take the downhills easy, and that meant she wouldn’t catch Arthur.

“It’s such a challenging course mentally and physically,” Arthur said. “It’s tough to be able to do both. All the runners who finish this race are amazing because this course is hard.”

The closest race of the day was the boys junior-senior race. Dunham won at 17:56, while Seward’s Max Pfeiffenberger was next at 18:14.

“This is a good course to start out on, because on the next course your time’s 30 seconds faster,” Dunham, a senior, said.

Dunham’s goal was to break 18 minutes, but Soldotna’s Maleda Denbrock took it out much faster than that. Dunham said he didn’t mind the quick start because the first kilometer is the flattest part of the course.

Pfeiffenberger also sensed the fast start. He said he tried to keep up with runners at his level from last year, then moved up to second place midway through the race as the pace fell off. Pfeiffenberger could not pick off Dunham, however.

“A couple of times I saw him and I thought maybe I could get him, but he was just too far ahead,” Pfeiffenberger said.

Both runners said they trained hard all season even with the season in doubt, so Friday was gratifying.

“It’s been like a year since I’ve raced,” Dunham said. “We didn’t have a track season. It’s great to be racing again.”

Boonstra, a sophomore, also trained a lot this summer, running at least five days a week, and it resulted in a win in the girls freshman-sophomore race with the day’s fastest girls time. She finished at 20:57, while Seward’s Hailey Ingalls was the runner-up at 22:10.

“Whether there was going to be a season or not, I still like to be in shape,” Boonstra said.

She said getting to race against other runners from other teams was nice.

“Every race this season, you can’t take it for granted,” Boonstra said.

Ingalls, a freshman, was running despite plantar fasciitis in her left foot.

“I held back this race,” she said. “I’m hoping to get over it soon.”

Even at full strength, Ingalls knows it would have been tough to keep up with Boonstra. Ingalls called the Kenai sophomore a devoted runner and fun competitor.

“She’s always pushing me to do my best and that helps with my race overall,” she said.

Unlike Arthur, Dunham and Boonstra, Homer sophomore Seamus McDonough said he didn’t get a lot of running in this summer by himself. He did say Homer started practice in the summer, then had meets at Ohlson Mountain in Homer and near Seward High School.

“The first two races had bigger hills than this one,” he said.

McDonough, a sophomore, won at 18:36, while Kenai freshman Greg Fallon was runner-up at 18:55.

With the quick ups and downs of the course, McDonough wanted room to run and he found the best way to do that was to get out front. He said he had a 20-second lead a little over a kilometer into the race and was able to hold that.

“My ultimate goal is to go sub-18, but I’m going to have to do that on a less hillier course than this one,” he said.

Fallon was running his first high school race. He said it was harder to pace for the longer distance.

“I let him go ahead,” Fallon said of McDonough. “I thought he was going out too fast, but he kept the pace.”

Fallon said it helped having his training partner, Kenai’s Jack Laker in the race. Fallon surged past Laker at the end to beat his friend by five seconds.

Freshman-sophomore girls

Team scores: 1. Homer, 26; 2. Kenai, 34; 3. Seward, 35; 4. Soldotna, 57.

Individual 5-kilometer results

1. Jayna Boonstra, Ken, 20 minutes, 57 seconds; 2. Hailey Ingalls, Sew, 22:10; 3. Frida Renner, Hom, 23:46; 4. Eryn Field, Hom, 24:03; 5. Emilee Wilson, Ken, 24:04; 6. Lena Jagielski, Sew, 24:47; 7. Sonia Montague, Sol, 24:48; 8. Emily Moss, Ken, 25:19; 9. Adelyn McCorison, Hom, 25:52; 10. Jordan Barrowcliff, Hom, 26:39; 11. Syliva Clemens, Hom, 26:48; 12. Cecilia Fitzpatrick, Hom, 26:59; 13. Aly Guernsey, Sew, 27:02; 14. Alexi Walker, Sew, 28:12; 15. Kaytlin McAnelly, Sol, 28:25; 16. Megan Whittom, Sol, 28:27; 17. Leah Dunn, Hom, 30:05; 18. Stella Dow, Sew, 30:57; 19. Ashley Dahlman, Sol, 34:00; 20. Lynnea Hack, Ken, 44:00; 21. Katie Nye, Sol, 46:24; 22. Bryce Glidden, Hom, 47:00; 23. Elena Badajos, Hom, 53:00.

Freshman-sophomore boys

1. Homer, 25; 2. Kenai, 32; 3. Soldotna, 34; 4. Seward, 59.

Individual 5-kilometer results

1. Seamus McDonough, Hom, 18:36; 2. Greg Fallon, Ken, 18:55; 3. Jack Laker, Ken, 19:00; 4. Aloshia Cross, Sew, 19:48; 5. Lance Seneff, Hom, 20:12; 6. Damon Weisser, Hom, 20:27; 7. Avery Willets, Sol, 20:45; 8. Golden Musgrave, Sol, 20:49; 9. Jeren Nash, Sol, 20:51; 10. Finnley Loop, Sol, 20:59; 11. Ky Calvert, Ken, 21:02; 12. Alexander Dammeyer, Sol, 21:07; 13. Garrett Briscoe, Hom, 21:34; 14. Carter Cannava, Sol, 21:53; 15. Jonathan Gordon, Sol, 21:54; 16. Zane Tews, Ken, 22:07; 17. Grayden Musgrave, Sol, 22:42; 18. Trevor Guernsey, Sew, 23:04; 19. Wesley Johnson, Sol, 23:20; 20. Andrew Cox, Sol, 23:28; 21. Judah Brueckner, Sew, 23:50; 22. Ben Boersma, Ken, 24:54; 23. Paxton Hill, Sew, 25:12; 24. Jaen Peraza, Sew, 25:30; 25. Mylan Johnson, Hom, 26:02.

26. Lliam Boss-Harmon, Hom, 26:14; 27. Robert Carson, Ken, 27:17; 28. Nathan Hankins, Sew, 29:32; 29. Nico Walker, Ken, 30:32; 30. Carter Kincaid, Sol, 31:53; 31. Garrett Ussing, Sol, 33:09.

Junior-senior girls

1. Soldotna, 10; 2. Kenai, 31.

Individual 5-kilometer results

1. Erika Arthur, Sol, 21:51; 2. Jordan Strausbaugh, Sol, 23:01; 3. Maranatha Brueckner, Sew, 23:15; 4. Katie Delker, Sol, 23:58; 5. Lucy Dammeyer, Sol, 24:06; 6. Hana Cooney, Sew, 24:39; 7. Leah Fallon, Ken, 24:53; 8. Kara Super, Hom, 25:32; 9. Maddox Berg, Hom, 26:12; 10. Kaidence Schaeffer, Sol, 26:34; 11. Keira Schrock, Sew, 26:38; 12. Gabriella Tews, Ken, 26:50; 13. Kaya Cox, Ken, 28:40; 14. Carson Dement, Sol, 30:12; 15. Sonora Martin, Sol, 31:18; 16. Keegan Lorring, Sol, 33:11; 17. Amelia Mueller, Ken, 38:15.

Junior-senior boys

1. Seward, 22; 2. Kenai, 25; 3. Soldotna, 33.

Individual 5-kilometer results

1. Maison Dunham, Ken, 17:56; 2. Max Pfeiffenberger, Sew, 18:14; 3. Joe Hamilton, Ken, 18:31; 4. Nathanael Johnson, Sol, 19:09; 5. Trey Ingalls, Sew, 19:14; 6. Levi Deboard, Sew, 19:17; 7. Quinn Cox, Sol, 19:19; 8. Tyler Hippchen, Ken, 19:20; 9. Samuel Koster, Sew, 19:34; 10. Tytus Gilbert, Sol, 19:34; 11. Adams Veldstra, Hom, 19:44; 12. Austin Cline, Hom, 19:44; 13. Clayton Petersen, Sew, 20:00; 14. Sean Babitt, Sol, 20:01; 15. Nathan Haakenson, Ken, 21:54; 16. Trenton Boots, Sol, 24:11; 17. George Wright, Ken, 24:50; 18. Matthew Grybowski, Ken, 25:03; 19. Boden Quiner, Nik, 26:38; 20. Maleda Denbrock, Sol, 27:29; 21. Gavin Brennan, Sol, 28:09; 22. Rory Gilmartin, Nik, 31:01; 23. Blaine Hayes, Sol, 32:48.

Kenai Central sophomore Jayna Boonstra wins the freshman-sophomore girls race at the Nikiski Class Races on Friday, Sept. 4, 2020, at Nikiski High School in Nikiski, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai Central sophomore Jayna Boonstra wins the freshman-sophomore girls race at the Nikiski Class Races on Friday, Sept. 4, 2020, at Nikiski High School in Nikiski, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Soldotna’s Maleda Denbrock and Kenai Central’s Maison Dunham battle early in the junior-senior boys race at the Nikiski Class Races on Friday, Sept. 4, 2020, at Nikiski High School in Nikiski, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Soldotna’s Maleda Denbrock and Kenai Central’s Maison Dunham battle early in the junior-senior boys race at the Nikiski Class Races on Friday, Sept. 4, 2020, at Nikiski High School in Nikiski, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Homer sophomore Seamus McDonough takes control of the freshman-sophomore boys race at the Nikiski Class Races on Friday, Sept. 4, 2020, at Nikiski High School in Nikiski, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Homer sophomore Seamus McDonough takes control of the freshman-sophomore boys race at the Nikiski Class Races on Friday, Sept. 4, 2020, at Nikiski High School in Nikiski, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

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