Soldotna senior Quinn Cox and Kenai Central sophomore Jayna Boonstra led the Kenai Peninsula on Thursday on the first day of the state Nordic ski meet at Government Peak Recreation Area north of Palmer.
Boonstra, who won the Division II state cross-country running title in the fall, finished 19th to lead Division II skiers. Boonstra crossed at 18 minutes, 48 seconds, in the interval start, 5-kilometer classic race, while race winner Meredith Schwartz of Service finished at 16:58.
Kenai Central coach Brad Nyquist said Grace Christian disbanded its team this year because the team was having a hard time finding competition. Nyquist said Grace is typically one of the top teams in Division II, so Kenai is in good position for state titles after the first day.
According to Nyquist, Jack Laker leads all Division II boys, while the Kenai girls and boys also lead the Division II team competition.
Cox, who like Boonstra is the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District ski champion this year, finished 20th in 25:28 in the boys 7.5-kilometer race. Michael Earnhart powered to victory in 21:43, 51 seconds ahead of runner-up Aaron Power of Service.
“It was a brutal course, especially for the guys,” Soldotna head coach Isaac Erhardt said. “They had to ski 7.5 kilometers, and there were some tough climbs with no break. On the second lap, they started below the start line and had to go all the way to the top again.”
Erhardt said the girls race was no picnic, either, although the climbs were broken up at least a little bit.
“Quinn had an excellent race,” Erhardt said. “He got 20th, so he is super excited about that.”
Nyquist said the course favored skiers with endurance motors that never stop, which is why Boonstra had such a good race.
Foster Boze was next for SoHi at 51st, while Dylan Hogue was 57th and Ryder Giesler was 60th.
Laker led the Kenai boys by taking 27th in 25:53. Also for Kenai, Gregory Fallon was 30th, Tyler Hippchen was 45th and Ben Boersma was 54th.
“When the boys finished, they were just sky high,” Nyquist said. “They were excited about their races, and were ecstatic about how the team performed.”
Nyquist said the excitement carried through the whole boys team, including Zane Tews (72nd) and Nathan Haakenson (74th).
Erhardt was excited to see his top four girls finish to close together.
Erika Arthur was 32nd, while Jordan Ruffner was 34th, Katie Delker was 38th and Jordan Strausbaugh was 43rd. Arthur and Strausbaugh were just 1:10 apart. According to Erhardt, Sonora Martin (63rd) and Emmy Reese (71st) also had good races.
Erhardt said Arthur was definitely hampered by a crash that happened when a fellow competitor fell near Arthur. Arthur broke a pole and got a replacement. The replacement was for the right height, but was for the wrong hand.
Ruffner broke through with her finish.
“Jordan is a really good skier,” Erhardt said. “She has great technique. She kind of did this last year. She built throughout the season.”
For the Kenai girls, Leah Fallon was 45th, while Emily Moss was 48th and Gabriella Tews was 52nd.
“All the boys had really good races, and the girls did too,” Nyquist said. “A lot of them finished higher than they did last year.”
Zoe Stonorov led the Homer girls by taking 49th, while Ireland Styvar was 61st, Eryn Field was 66th and Frida Renner was 70th.
For the Seward girls, Alexi Walker was 78th and Belladonna Proietti was 85th.
For the Homer boys, Seamus McDonough finished 69th while Hudson Loboy was 95th. Seward was led by Cody Bryden in 61st, while Aloshia Cross was 79th, Trevor Guernsey was 79th and Paxton Hill was 93rd.
State Nordic ski meet
Thursday at Government Peak Recreation Area
Individual 5K classic results
1. Meredith Schwartz, Ser, 16:58; 2. Tatum Witter, Ser, 17:05; 3. Emily Walsh, ER, 17:24; 4. Aila Berrigan, Pal, 17:30; 5. Robyn Miller, Sou, 17:42; 6. Emily Erickson, Dim, 17:45; 7. Marley Ireland, Eas, 17:46; 8. Katey Houser, Pal, 17:48; 9. Mina Hancock, Ser, 17:54; 10. Rosie Whittington-Evans, Pal, 18:02.
Peninsula finishers — 19. Jayna Boonstra, Ken, 18:48; 32. Erika Arthur, Sol, 19:47; 34. Jordan Ruffner, Sol, 19:50; 38. Katie Delker, Sol, 20:25; 43. Jordan Strausbaugh, Sol, 20:57; 45. Leah Fallon, Ken, 21:04; 48. Emily Moss, Ken, 21:20; 49. Zoe Stonorov, Hom, 21:26; 52. Gabriella Tews, Ken, 21:34; 57. Summer Foster, Ken, 21:49; 61. Ireland Styvar, Hom, 22:16; 63. Sonora Martin, Sol, 22:38; 66. Eryn Field, Hom, 23:06; 70. Frida Renner, Hom, 23:41; 71. Emmy Reese, Sol, 23:45; 75. Kara Super, Hom, 24:02; 78. Alexi Walker, Sew, 25:27; 81. Elena Badajos, Hom, 25:56; 85. Belladonna Proietti, Sew, 27:42.
Individual 7.5K classic results
1. Michael Earnhart, Chu, 21:43; 2. Aaron Power, Ser, 22:34; 3. Alexander Maurer, Ser, 22:36; 4. Joel Power, Ser, 22:38; 5. Luke Buth, WV, 23:17; 6. Porter Blei, Chu, 23:18; 7. Eric DiFolco, WV, 23:39; 8. Josh Baurick, WV, 24:02; 9. Mark Eggener, Wes, 24:21; 10. Cole Flowers, Wes, 24:38.
Peninsula finishers — 20. Quinn Cox, Sol, 25:28; 27. Jack Laker, Ken, 25:53; 30. Gregory Fallon, Ken, 26:00; 45. Tyler Hippchen, Ken, 27:21; 51. Foster Boze, Sol, 27:59; 54. Ben Boersma, Ken, 28:22; 57. Dylan Hogue, Sol, 28:51; 60. Ryder Giesler, Sol, 29:09; 61. Cody Bryden, Sew, 29:09; 64. Andrew Cox, Sol, 29:57; 67. Trenton Boots, Sol, 30:21; 69. Seamus McDonough, Hom, 30:43; 72. Zane Tews, Ken, 31:07; 74. Nathan Haakenson, Ken, 31:36; 79. Aloshia Cross, Sew, 32:12; 79. Trevor Guernsey, Sew, 32:12; 93. Paxton Hill, Sew, 39:37; 94. John VanBuskirk, Sew, 40:32; 95. Hudson Loboy, Hom, 40:53.