Kenai Central’s Jayna Boonstra leads teammate Emily Moss during a 5-kilometer mass start classic race Saturday, Dec. 11, 2021, at Tsalteshi Trails just outside of Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai Central’s Jayna Boonstra leads teammate Emily Moss during a 5-kilometer mass start classic race Saturday, Dec. 11, 2021, at Tsalteshi Trails just outside of Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Hippchen, Boonstra top ski meet

Due to all the grooming, course planning and course marking they require, ski meets aren’t easy to throw together with just a few days planning.

You wouldn’t have known that at the dual meet between Kenai Central and Soldotna on Friday and Saturday at Tsalteshi Trails just outside of Soldotna.

Rather than have the Stars and Kardinals travel all the way to the Matanuska-Susitna valleys for two short races, Kenai head coach Brad Nyquist decided to throw the meet together in the middle of the week.

After groomers managed to get the course firm enough for a 5-kilometer mass start freestyle Friday despite overnight snowfall, racers were greeted with a perfect day for a 5K mass start classic race Saturday.

“I’m telling you, when I see solid tracks like this, if a person can’t make this as being their happy place, I don’t know …,” Nyquist said.

Kenai’s Jayna Boonstra and Tyler Hippchen won both the Friday and Saturday races.

Friday, Boonstra won the freestyle race at 17:15, while teammate Emily Moss was next at 18:02 and SoHi’s Ariana Cannava was third at 18:32. Saturday, Boonstra edged Moss by a boot, or 22:01 to 22:02, while Jordan Ruffner of Soldotna was third at 22:08.

Boonstra had a two-day total of 39:16, while Moss was second at 40:04 and SoHi’s Jordan Strausbaugh was third at 41:09.

After missing the first race of the season, Boonstra said is was nice to be pushed by a teammate Saturday.

“I think she pushed herself really hard, and it’s good to see how hard she pushed herself,” Boonstra said.

Nyquist said Boonstra skis whenever she gets a chance, and that showed over the weekend, especially in the Friday skate race. The coach said it’s invaluable to have a skier like that to chase on a team.

“Emily works so hard all the time to get better and better,” Nyquist said. “And she’s so coachable.”

The Kenai coach also was happy to watch three of his skiers battle it out throughout Saturday’s boys race.

Friday, Hippchen, Kenai’s Jack Laker and SoHi’s Andrew Cox were in the lead pack until the uphill on the Beaver Loop broke things up. Hippchen won at 14:38, while Laker was second at 14:44 and Cox was third at 15:06.

Saturday, Hippchen, Laker and Kenai’s Greg Fallon were in a tight pack through the whole race. Hippchen had a slight lead the whole time.

He took the perfect angle on a left turn into a downhill just before the finish, giving him the win at 18:47, while Laker and Fallon were both at 18:48. Hippchen’s two-day time was 33:25, while Laker was at 33:32 and Fallon was third at 34:16.

“Classic’s never been my strong suit,” Hippchen said. “I think this is a breakthrough result for me. I’m super happy about that. I’ve never won a high school classic race.”

Hippchen also said, with Besh Cup races coming up next weekend, he’s very grateful to the groomers and coaches for getting this race together.

“What’s really nice is to see the groups skiing together, pushing each other and helping each other get better,” Nyquist said, adding he liked the late push Zane Tews made to take fifth Saturday. “It’s just a great group of kids across the board.”

Soldotna coach Isaac Erhardt also said the meet was a great experience for his team.

“I’m happy with where they’re at,” he said. “We’re just going to continue plugging away and see what kind of gains we can make on Kenai.”

Erhardt said the Stars put in a bunch of hard workouts this week.

“These are not races we’re targeting but they are good for goal setting,” he said. “All these early season races for us are about setting individual goals — seeing where skiers want to be — and technique and fitness goals.”

GIRLS

Friday 5-kilometer mass start freestyle results — 1. Jayna Boonstra, Ken, 17:15; 2. Emily Moss, Ken, 18:02; 3. Ariana Cannava, Sol, 18:32; 4. Jordan Strausbaugh, Sol, 18:37; 5. Gabriella Tews, Ken, 20:30; 6. Mya Taylor, Ken, 21:38; 7. Avery Cuifo, Sol, 21:42; 8. Emmy Reese, Sol, 21:45; 9. Adele Tacey, Sol, 22:05; 10. Ashley Dahlman, Sol, 22:09; 11. Madison McDonald, Ken, 23:15; 12. Leanne Gordon, Sol, 22:45; 13. Tirzah Fredrickson, Sol, 23:49; 14. Elizabeth Moffet, Ken, 24:30; 15. Audrey McDonald, Ken, 24:50; 16. Sophia Sinfonico, Sol, 26:43; 17. Danika Winslow, Sol, 27:23; 18. Elia Ortiz Diez, Ken, 32:55; 19. Dady Thisakulwong, Sol, 33:09; 20. Olivia Sommers, Ken, 33:57; 21. Regan Evans, Sol, 40:42; 22. Hawan Hong, Sol, finisher; 23. Alexis Wells, Sol, finisher.

Saturday 5-kilometer mass start classic results — 1. Jayna Boonstra, Ken, 22:01; 2. Emily Moss, Ken, 22:02; 3. Jordan Ruffner, Sol, 22:08; 4. Jordan Strausbaugh, Sol, 22:32; 5. Ariana Cannava, Sol, 23:24; 6. Gabriella Tews, Ken, 22:57; 7. Avery Cuifo, Sol, 26:56; 8. Madison McDonald, Ken, 27:15; 9. Lynnea Hack, Ken, 27:22; 10. Emmy Reese, Sol, 27:52; 11. Ashley Dahlman, Sol, 27:53; 12. Adele Tacey, Sol, 28:57; 13. Leanne Gordon, Sol, 29:15; 14. Mya Taylor, Ken, 29:52; 15. Tirzah Fredrickson, Sol, 30:19; 16. Betsy Moffet, Ken, 31:57; 17. Sofia Sinfonico, Sol, 33:31; 18. Audrey McDonald, Ken, 36:08; 19. Danika Winslow, Sol, 38:48; 20. Dady Thisakulwong, Sol, 39:14; 21. Olivia Sommers, Ken, 39:58; 22. Elia Ortiz Diez, Ken, 41:51; 23. Hawan Hong, Sol, 42:14.

BOYS

Friday 5-kilometer mass start freestyle results — 1. Tyler Hippchen, Ken, 14:38; 2. Jack Laker, Ken, 14:44; 3. Andrew Cox, Sol, 15:06; 4. Greg Fallon, Ken, 15:28; 5. Zane Tews, Ken, 15:36; 6. Levi Mickelson, Sol, 15:45; 7. Trenton Boots, Sol, 16:15; 8. George Wright, Ken, 16:20; 9. Jonathan Gordon, Sol, 16:21; 10. Carter Cannava, Sol, 16:22; 11. Benjamin Abel, Sol, 16:57; 12. Zane Pellegrom, Ken, 17:10; 13. Owen Smith, Ken, 17:20; 14. Finnley Loop, Sol, 17:32; 15. Ethan Hogue, Sol, 17:48; 16. Robert Carson, Ken, 18:20; 17. Justin Hansen, Sol, 18:40; 18. Nathan Haakenson, Ken, 19:02; 19. Jackson Marion, Ken, 19:37; 20. Noble Cassidy, Sol, 19:45; 21. Valentino Rigutto, Sol, 20:21; 22. Josh Lynner, Sol, 20:37; 23. Austin Thompson, Ken, 21:43; 24. Caleb Wohlers, Sol, 23:27; 25. Luca Rigutto, Sol, 23:47; 26. Oli Boersma, Ken, 24:03; 27. Jason Johnson, Ken, 25:24; 28. Brooklyn Stewart, Ken, 26:45; 29. Grady Adams, Ken, 26:56.

Saturday 5-kilometer mass start classic results — 1. Tyler Hippchen, Ken, 18:47; 2. Jack Laker, Ken, 18:48; 3. Greg Fallon, Ken, 18:48; 4. Andrew Cox, Sol, 20:20; 5. Zane Tews, Ken, 20:55; 6. Trenton Boots, Sol, 21:07; 7. Levi Mickelson, Sol, 21:08; 8. Benjamin Abel, Sol, 21:37; 9. Carter Cannava, Sol, 21:38; 10. Jonathan Gordon, Sol, 21:39; 11. Nathan Haakenson, Ken, 21:58; 12. Finnley Loop, Sol, 22:05; 13. George Wright, Ken, 22:43; 14. Zane Pellegrom, Ken, 22:55; 15. Owen Smith, Ken, 22:57; 16. Ethan Hogue, Sol, 23:50; 17. Justin Hansen, Sol, 24:18; 18. Noble Cassidy, Sol, 25:19; 19. Josh Lynner, Sol, 25:23; 20. Robert Carson, Ken, 25:28; 21. Jackson Marion, Ken, 26:13; 22. Valentino Rigutto, Sol, 27:23; 23. Austin Thompson, Ken, 27:50; 24. Luca Rigutto, Sol, 30:17; 25. Brooklyn Stewart, Ken, 30:22; 26. Oli Boersma, Ken, 30:45; 27. Jameson Hall, Sol, 32:49; 28. Caleb Wohlers, Sol, 36:23; 29.Grady Adams, Ken, 38:46.

Kenai Central’s Greg Fallon, Jack Laker and Tyler Hippchen battle for the lead in a 5-kilometer mass start classic race Saturday, Dec. 11, 2021, at Tsalteshi Trails just outside of Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai Central’s Greg Fallon, Jack Laker and Tyler Hippchen battle for the lead in a 5-kilometer mass start classic race Saturday, Dec. 11, 2021, at Tsalteshi Trails just outside of Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Soldotna’s Josh Lynner tucks down the final hill on the 5-kilometer mass start classic course Saturday, Dec. 11, 2021, at Tsalteshi Trails just outside of Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Soldotna’s Josh Lynner tucks down the final hill on the 5-kilometer mass start classic course Saturday, Dec. 11, 2021, at Tsalteshi Trails just outside of Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

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