Soldotna’s Tania Boonstra and Kathryn DeBardelaben lead the pack from the start Saturday, Oct. 7, 2023, in the Division I girls state cross-country race at Palmer High School in Palmer, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Soldotna’s Tania Boonstra and Kathryn DeBardelaben lead the pack from the start Saturday, Oct. 7, 2023, in the Division I girls state cross-country race at Palmer High School in Palmer, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Seward girls defend Division II cross-country title

They want to get in a few trail runs before the snow flies.

Cross-country teams excel when they develop a love for running together, whether it be in or out of season.

The Seward girls have that going right now and it resulted in a second-straight Division II state title Saturday at Palmer High School.

“We definitely want to do trail runs,” Seward freshman Selah Brueckner said. “After the season, we’re going to get together and run a few trail runs before the snow hits.”

The Seahawks were dominant in defending their title, putting six runners in the top 12.

Seward scored 34 points, while Grace Christian was second with 57, Sitka was third with 57 and Homer was fourth with 109.

“We’re talking about maybe having a week off,” Seward head coach Rachel Dow said. “And then some of them ski and play basketball, so we’re talking about doing some trail runs so they don’t lose their fitness.

“We just love to hang out with each other.”

Dow said it was special to repeat with seniors Hailey Ingalls, the coach’s neighbor, and Stella Dow, the coach’s daughter.

“To end their high school career with a second championship is so special,” coach Dow said. “This team — they are just amazing to coach.

“I honestly didn’t want this season to be over. I had so much fun with these kids. Not just my varsity team, but also my JV girls and my boys.”

The Seward girls now have eight state titles. Five were won in the 23-year tenure of Dan Marshall, who also won three boys titles before stepping aside in 2018.

Marshall took advantage of the bevy of spectacular trails in Seward and the famous Mount Marathon Race to create a running culture in Seward.

Dow, a 1997 graduate of Seward who ran for Marshall and has 12 Mount Marathon finishes, now has a similar thing going.

“Tough kids come out of Seward,” Dow said. “We have Mount Marathon, we have these awesome trails, and (the kids) are just awesome.”

Ingalls, who missed the track season and the first half of the cross-country season due to injury, led the way by finishing third in 20 minutes, 57 seconds. Sitka junior Clare Mullin won at 19:50.

Dow said her only concern with Ingalls is that she can push herself almost too hard. The coach proved correct when Ingalls crossed the finish line and got a little wobbly, needing race officials to keep her from falling.

“Last year at state I had that side cramp and I had never experienced that much pain,” said Ingalls, who finished 10th at state as a freshman and fifth as a sophomore and junior. “But this year, it was a different kind of pain. It was just full body.”

Brueckner was sixth, sophomore Juniper Ingalls was eighth, junior Katie Van Buskirk was 10th, sophomore Maddie Haas was 11th, freshman Indigo Leslie was 13th and Dow was 33rd. In addition to talent coming from middle school, coach Dow said sophomore Lucy Bamford had a great run at regions so Seward has plenty of talent for next season.

Hailey Ingalls said the team grew up together and most of them even go to the same church.

“Rachel has been incredible,” Ingalls said. “She’s so invested in our team. She pours her whole heart into the team, so by the end of the season we’re all a little tired.

“I’m so thankful for this team and our coach.”

Homer was led by sophomore Jaela Marchbanks in 14th place in a personal-best 22:06. Many area runners had their personal best at a Kenai Peninsula Borough meet that was set up to be fast, but not Marchbanks.

Marchbanks said she also swims in the morning, and tapering off activity worked for her.

“We backed off the swimming, and we backed off the running, so it was just a ton of backing off,” she said.

Like the Seahawks, the Mariners are young. Sophomore Claira Booz was 17th, junior Beatrix McDonough was 19th, sophomore Cassidy Carroll was 41st, sophomore Kiriakia Basargin was 56th, junior McKenna Black was 57th and junior Ainsley Boss-Harmon was 67th.

The Mariners also were missing one of their top runners in junior Daisy MossWalker due to injury.

Marchbanks said the Mariners are looking forward to next season under head coach Bob Ostrom.

“It’s Alaska, so a lot of us have fishing jobs and stuff,” she said. “A lot of us are pretty dedicated and will continue throughout the summer.

“Bob has a camp he sends a lot of kids to that is pretty fun.”

For Kenai Central, Emilee Wilson finished off her career by taking 23rd.

Division II boys

Grace Christian junior Robbie Annett completed an undefeated season against Division II competition by leading the Grizzlies to the team title.

Grace had 47 points, while runner-up Sitka was at 66, Homer was third at 73 and Kenai was sixth at 121.

Kenai Central senior Greg Fallon stayed with Annett for the first two laps.

“I think the strategy today was just stick with him the first two laps and see what I had left on the third,” said Annett, who won his first title. “I pulled away about three and a half K.”

Annett said he didn’t want to sprint against Fallon on the track to the finish, so getting that gap was important.

He finished at 16:39, while a fast-closing Fallon was at 16:42 for the best state finish of his career.

“I should have went earlier,” Fallon said of his kick.

Also for Kenai, senior Jack Laker was 18th, sophomore Chase Laker was 33rd, senior Zane Tews was 37th, senior Sam Sloan was 47th, senior William Roberts was 61st and sophomore Logan Cartwright was 65th.

Sophomore Johannes Bynagle led a young Mariners team by finishing 11th. Bynagle finished 23rd at state last season.

Homer also received a 12th from sophomore Caleb Bunker, a 17th from sophomore Jai Badajos, a 21st from freshman Reid Rauch, a 23rd from sophomore Ethan Styvar, a 26th from sophomore Tait Ostrom and a 35th from junior Jody Goodrich.

Bynagle said the Grizzlies set a tough standard in the region and state.

“Hopefully, we’ll get them at some point,” he said. “Our oldest guy on the varsity team is a junior.

“Our top five scoring boys are all freshmen and sophomores, so I feel like we have a few good years ahead of us.”

Division I

The Soldotna girls also are a young team with a future of promise.

The Stars finished sixth with 162 points, while champion Chugiak had 40 and runner-up Juneau-Douglas: Yadaa.at Kale had 69.

Sophomore Tania Boonstra led the Stars by finishing sixth at 19:55 after finishing fifth at state last year.

Boonstra said Chugiak and champion Hannah Shaha, a sophomore who ran 19:19, started aggressively.

“They were just far ahead and it was hard to get back in,” Boonstra said.

She said the future is bright for her and the team, though.

“I’m really happy that everyone’s all freshmen and sophomores, and we have one junior, so it’s going to be fun,” Boonstra said. “We’ll come back again.”

Also for the Stars, freshman Kathryn DeBardelaben was 17th, sophomore Sasha Brott was 38th, junior Annie Burns was 50th, freshman Kathryn Cox was 68th, sophomore Delanie Wagers was 77th and junior Ariana Cannava was 81st.

DeBardelaben said she’s happy with her season, especially because appendicitis kept her from training this summer.

She wanted a top 15 finish, but after feeling burnt out at the start, she moved up in the final kilometer for 17th.

DeBardelaben noted the Stars were missing sophomore Sophia Jedlicki due to injury. Jedlicki was second at state last year.

“Sophia hurt her ankle this year, but next year she’s going to be back and we’re excited for that season,” DeBardelaben said.

Junior Noble Cassidy was the lone runner for the Soldotna boys, finishing 48th.

Palmer’s Fischer Adams ran 16:00 for a dominant victory, while the South boys were the team champions.

Division III

Ninilchik senior Adelyn McCorison was the lone Kenai Peninsula representative at Division III, finishing fifth in 22:21 while Unalakleet’s Ourea Busk won at 19:38. The Dillingham girls were the team champs.

For the boys, Wrangell sophomore Boomchain Loucks won at 17:28 to lead the Wolves to the team title.

State cross-country meet

Saturday at Palmer High School

Division I

Girls

Team scores: 1. Chugiak, 40; 2. Juneau-Douglas: Yadaa.at Kale, 69; 3. Colony, 72; 4. South, 116; 5. West, 148; 6. Soldotna, 162; 7. Service, 174; 8. Dimond, 188; 9. Lathrop, 266; 10. West Valley, 271; 11. Palmer, 274.

Top 10 5-kilometer individual finishers

1. Hannah Shaha, Chu, 19 minutes, 19 seconds; 2. Alliyah Fields, Chu, 19:26; 3. Morgan Ainsworth, Col, 19:27; 4. Hailee Giacobbe, Was, 19:34; 5. Ida Meyer, JD, 19:41; 6. Tania Boonstra, Sol, 19:55; 7. Ella Hopkins, Col, 19:57; 8. Miyana Kam-Magruder, Ser, 20:01; 9. Rayna Tuckwood, JD, 20:02; 10. Etta Eller, JD, 20:07.

Other Soldotna finishers

17. Kathryn DeBardelaben, Sol, 20:36; 38. Sasha Brott, Sol, 21:18; 50. Annie Burns, Sol, 21:47; 68. Kathryn Cox, Sol, 23:04; 77. Delanie Wagers, Sol, 23:27; 81. Ariana Cannava, Sol, 23:54.

Boys

Team scores: 1. South, 83; 2. West, 89; 3. Chugiak, 89; 4. Colony, 102; 5. Juneau-Douglas: Yadaa.at Kale, 104; 6. Service, 123; 7. Kodiak, 170; 8. West Valley, 181; 9. Lathrop, 233; 10. Wasilla, 248.

Top 10 5-kilometer individual finishers

1. Fischer Adams, Pal, 16:00; 2. Tobias Buchanan, Col, 16:43; 3. Blake Hanley, Wes, 16:49; 4. Elias Litzow, Kod, 16:50; 5. Blaise Boyer, Sou, 16:57; 6. Jarrett Jackson, Dim, 16:59; 7. Owen Hayes, Chu, 17:00; 8. Vebjorn Flagstad, Sou, 17:01; 9. Elias Oswald, Ser, 17:03; 10. Edgar Vera Alverado, JD, 17:04.

Soldotna finisher

48. Noble Cassidy, Sol, 18:03.

Division II

Girls

Team scores: 1. Seward, 34; 2. Grace Christian, 57; 3. Sitka, 57; 4. Homer, 109; 5. Monroe Catholic, 128; 6. Bethel, 152; 7. Delta Junction, 176.

Top 10 5-kilometer individual finishers

1. Clare Mullin, Sit, 19:50; 2. Marina Dill, Sit, 20:13; 3. Hailey Ingalls, Sew, 20:57; 4. Sydney Mondeel, Gra, 21:07; 5. Tagan Rinner, Gra, 21:15; 6. Selah Brueckner, Sew, 21:30; 7. Lauren Kingstrom, Nome, 21:32; 8. Juniper Ingalls, Sew, 21:42; 9. AwaLuk Nichols, Nome, 21:50; 10. Katie Van Buskirk, Sew, 21:52.

Other peninsula finishers

12. Maddie Haas, Sew, 22:02; 13. Indigo Leslie, Sew, 22:03; 14. Jaela Marchbanks, Hom, 22:06; 17. Claira Booz, Hom, 22:17; 23. Emilee Wilson, Ken, 22:46; 33. Stella Dow, Sew, 23:39; 41. Cassidy Carroll, Hom, 24:15; 56. Kiriakia Basargin, Hom, 25:27; 57. McKenna Black, Hom, 25:36; 67. Ainsley Boss-Harmon, Hom, 31:16.

Boys

1. Grace Christian, 47; 2. Sitka, 66; 3. Homer, 73; 4. Mountain City Christian Academy, 111; 5. Bethel, 118; 6. Kenai Central, 121; 7. Monroe Catholic, 156; 8. Delta Junction, 225.

Top 10 5-kilometer individual finishers

1. Robert Annett, Gra, 16:39; 2. Greg Fallon, Ken, 16:42; 3. Colton Merriner, Gra, 16:49; 4. Simon Nelson, Gra, 16:54; 5. Connor Hitchcock, Sit, 17:00; 6. Trey Demmert, Sit, 17:14; 7. Rafe Caruthers, Val, 17:21; 8. Orson Hoogendorn, Nome, 17:29; 9. Ned Peters, Bet, 17:31; 10. Preston Kopp, MCCA, 17:33.

Other peninsula finishers

11. Johannes Bynagle, Hom, 17:35; 12. Caleb Bunker, Hom, 17:36; 17. Jai Badajos, Hom, 17:58; 18. Jack Laker, Ken, 18:07; 21. Reid Rauch, Hom, 18:10; 23. Ethan Styvar, Hom, 18:24; 26. Tait Ostrom, Hom, 18:37; 33. Chase Laker, Ken, 18:58; 35. Jody Goodrich, Hom, 19:00; 37. Zane Tews, Ken, 19:10; 47. Sam Sloan, Ken, 19:42; 61. William Roberts, Ken, 20:53; 65. Logan Cartwright, Ken, 21:06.

Division III

Girls

Team scores: 1. Dillingham, 46; 2. Kake, 56; 3. Craig, 74; 4. Tikigaq, 82; 5. Fort Yukon, 90.

Top 10 5-kilometer finishers

1. Ourea Busk, Unalakleet, 19:38; 2. Taylor Eddington, Tri-Valley, 19:57; 3. Ari’el Godinez Long, Haines, 20:40; 4. Pagan Lester, Newhalen, 21:57; 5. Adelyn McCorison, Nin, 22:21; 6. Maria Toth, Petersburg, 22:33; 7. Kinley Lister, Petersburg, 23:06; 8. Alana Harrison, Wrangell, 23:18; 9. Kayla Abbott, Glennallen, 23:22; 10. Violet Jack, Unalakleet, 23:37.

Boys

Team scores: 1. Wrangell, 28; 2. Cordova, 72; 3. Petersburg, 75; 4. Bristol Bay, 101; 5. Haines, 105; 6. Glennallen, 119.

Top 10 5-kilometer finishers

1. Boomchain Loucks, Wra, 17:28; 2. Keegan Hansen, Wra, 18:12; 3. Floyd Widsoe, Cor, 18:13; 4. Aulis Nelson, Craig, 18:16; 5. Daniel Harrison, Wra, 18:23; 6. Alex Holmgrian, Pet, 18:25; 7. Keilan Wassillie, BB, 18:35; 8. Tegan Hesse, Cor, 18:49; 9. Xzavier Munoz-Torres, Kake, 18:55; 10. Latrell Lake, Hooper Bay, 19:07.

Homer’s Claire Booz leads teammate Beatrix McDonough on Saturday, Oct. 7, 2023, in the Division II girls state cross-country race at Palmer High School in Palmer, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Homer’s Claire Booz leads teammate Beatrix McDonough on Saturday, Oct. 7, 2023, in the Division II girls state cross-country race at Palmer High School in Palmer, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Homer’s Johannes Bynagle competes Saturday, Oct. 7, 2023, in the Division II boys state cross-country race at Palmer High School in Palmer, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Homer’s Johannes Bynagle competes Saturday, Oct. 7, 2023, in the Division II boys state cross-country race at Palmer High School in Palmer, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Soldotna’s Tania Boonstra tucks in with a chase pack Saturday, Oct. 7, 2023, in the Division I girls state cross-country race at Palmer High School in Palmer, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Soldotna’s Tania Boonstra tucks in with a chase pack Saturday, Oct. 7, 2023, in the Division I girls state cross-country race at Palmer High School in Palmer, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai Central’s Greg Fallon and Grace Christian’s Robbie Annett lead the pack Saturday, Oct. 7, 2023, in the Division II boys state cross-country race at Palmer High School in Palmer, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai Central’s Greg Fallon and Grace Christian’s Robbie Annett lead the pack Saturday, Oct. 7, 2023, in the Division II boys state cross-country race at Palmer High School in Palmer, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Seward’s Hailey Ingalls leads Kenai Central’s Emilee Wilson off the start Saturday, Oct. 7, 2023, in the Division II girls state cross-country race at Palmer High School in Palmer, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Seward’s Hailey Ingalls leads Kenai Central’s Emilee Wilson off the start Saturday, Oct. 7, 2023, in the Division II girls state cross-country race at Palmer High School in Palmer, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai Central’s Jack Laker finishes Saturday, Oct. 7, 2023, in the Division II boys state cross-country race at Palmer High School in Palmer, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai Central’s Jack Laker finishes Saturday, Oct. 7, 2023, in the Division II boys state cross-country race at Palmer High School in Palmer, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Seward’s Selah Brueckner and Kate Van Buskirk lead a pack of runners Saturday, Oct. 7, 2023, at the Division II girls state cross-country meet at Palmer High School in Palmer, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Seward’s Selah Brueckner and Kate Van Buskirk lead a pack of runners Saturday, Oct. 7, 2023, at the Division II girls state cross-country meet at Palmer High School in Palmer, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

The Seward girls cross-country team won the Division II state title Saturday, Oct. 7, 2023, at Palmer High School in Palmer, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

The Seward girls cross-country team won the Division II state title Saturday, Oct. 7, 2023, at Palmer High School in Palmer, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Seward’s Selah Brueckner, Katie Van Buskirk, Maddie Haas and Juniper Ingalls try to figure out if they won by looking at the scoreboard Saturday, Oct. 7, 2023, in the Division II girls state cross-country race at Palmer High School in Palmer, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Seward’s Selah Brueckner, Katie Van Buskirk, Maddie Haas and Juniper Ingalls try to figure out if they won by looking at the scoreboard Saturday, Oct. 7, 2023, in the Division II girls state cross-country race at Palmer High School in Palmer, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

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