Kenai Central’s Jayna Boonstra kicks to eighth place in the girls varsity race at the Ted McKenney XC Invitational on Saturday, Aug. 21, 2021, at Tsalteshi Trails just outside of Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai Central’s Jayna Boonstra kicks to eighth place in the girls varsity race at the Ted McKenney XC Invitational on Saturday, Aug. 21, 2021, at Tsalteshi Trails just outside of Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Ted McKenney Invite returns

Big running race had 2 years off

Homer junior Seamus McDonough was expecting a moderately sized meet Saturday at Tsalteshi Trails just outside of Soldotna.

“I thought it was just going to be a race with our division, with like Grace and ACS,” said McDonough, who led the Kenai Peninsula by finishing ninth in the boys varsity race. “I showed up and saw all the other Anchorage schools. I didn’t think it was gonna be like this. It was a surprise to me.”

Welcome back Ted McKenney XC Invitational.

The meet, which saw just short of 600 combined finishers in the girls and boys open and varsity races, was not held the past two years — canceled in 2019 due to the Swan Lake Fire and in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Formerly called the Tsalteshi Invitational, it has been renamed in honor of Ted McKenney, the former Soldotna and Cook Inlet Academy cross-country coach who formed bonds with runners from around the state before dying at 64 in 2020 due to brain cancer.

The event is a favorite for area endurance enthusiasts for the flood of many-colored uniforms it sends on a familiar trail system on the verge of switching from summer to fall. But due to various calamities, everybody from freshmen to juniors was racing the event for the first time Saturday.

“It was exciting to be able to run this with a lot of people,” said Kenai Central junior Jayna Boonstra, who led the peninsula by finishing ninth in the girls race. “I’ve never gotten to run this before. It was really cool.”

Junior Emily Erickson and senior Jared Gardiner gave Dimond a sweep of the varsity races.

The South girls and Grace Christian boys had dominant victories in the team battles. The South girls scored 45 points to top runner-up Chugiak’s 81, while Grace, a Division II school, scored 35 points to top the 96 of runner-up West.

Both Erickson and Gardiner took control midway through the 5-kilometer course. Erickson finished at 19:19, 19 seconds ahead of runner-up Campbell Peterson of Chugiak, while Gardiner was at 16:37, 16 seconds ahead of David Sliwinski of Grace.

The Dimond duo took the advice of coach Nate Normandin to heart and were rewarded with victories.

“Right before the race, our coach told us halfway through the race to make a surge and hold your position,” Gardiner said.

Erickson surprised herself when that midrace surge held and she found victory. Erickson finished fifth at the Division I state meet last season and, with her calves feeling tight before Saturday’s race, she thought top five would be a good result.

She started in the middle of the pack then worked hard to pick runners off because she hates sprints at the end of races.

“It was just hard work over the summer and good coaches and training teammates,” Erickson said. “And trying to find the joy in running because it hurts, but it’s a lot of fun when you’re done.”

Gardiner was seventh at state last year. He had won his first two meets this season coming into Saturday’s race, but also was hoping for top five. He said it’s no mistake Dimond runners were able to sweep the race by making big jumps from last season.

“There’s a lot of training and my coaches, friends and parents are all really supportive,” he said.

Boonstra ran 20:20 to lead Kenai to seventh in the team standings, the best by a peninsula team. Boonstra is the defending Division II state champion and was the second Division II runner in the race, nine seconds behind Kai Waythomas of Grace.

“It was only the second race of the season so I feel there’s lots of room to improve,” Boonstra said, adding she feels she can do better in the middle section of the races.

Soldotna senior Jordan Strausbaugh, running with “We run for Ted” on her thigh, gave the peninsula another top 20 by taking 17th to lead the Stars to 11th in the team standings. Homer was 12th.

In the boys race, McDonough had a new PR of 17:07 thanks to a pair of crowds.

First, he enjoyed running with so many people cheering him on. Even at state last year, mitigation protocols meant the course was mostly empty.

“It’s exciting,” he said. “I didn’t have this last year at all, really.”

The other crowd that helped McDonough was the group at the front of the pack.

“There was a big group through the entire race at the start, and I was just tagging on the back of that group getting passed, and passing some people, but I finished around the same spot I started,” he said.

McDonough, who also was excited about the varsity debut of his sister Bea, led Homer to 14th in the team standings.

Kenai, led by Gregory Fallon in 20th and Jack Laker in 22nd, led the peninsula by taking 11th, while SoHi, paced by Nathanael Johnson in 41st, was 13th.

Ted McKenney XC Invitational

Saturday at Tsalteshi Trails

GIRLS

Team scores: 1. South, 45; 2. Chugiak, 81; 3. West, 87; 4. Grace Christian, 137; 5. Dimond, 156; 6. Colony, 164; 7. Kenai, 169; 8. Eagle River, 175; 9. Service, 227; 10. East, 246; 11. Soldotna, 278; 12. Homer, 323; 13. Palmer, 360; 14. Bethel, 421.

1. Emily Erickson, Dimond 19:19 ; 2. Campbell Peterson, Chugiak 19:38 ; 3. Robyn Miller, South Anchorage 19:39 ; 4. Ella Hopkins, Colony 19:44 ; 5. Payton Smith, West Anchorage 19:55 ; 6. Elliana Zock, South Anchorage 19:55 ; 7. Kai Waythomas, Grace Christian 20:11 ; 8. Jayna Boonstra, Kenai Central 20:20 ; 9. Elizabeth Page, South Anchorage 20:20 ; 10. Zoe Rodgers, West Anchorage 20:21 ; 11. Ava Trembath, Eagle River 20:26 ; 12. Skyler Belmear, Chugiak 20:30 ; 13. Ava Murphy, South Anchorage 20:30 ; 14. Ella Atterbery, South Anchorage 20:31 ; 15. Kiley Dennis, Chugiak 20:46 ; 16. Maggie Keffalos, South Anchorage 20:54 ; 17. Jordan Strausbaugh, Soldotna 20:56 ; 18. Ina Kraus, Eagle River 20:59 ; 19. Marley Ireland, East Anchorage 21:03 ; 20. Cameryn Kauffman, South Anchorage 21:11 ; 21. Avrey Campbell, Dimond 21:25 ; 22. Anna Thomas, Bartlett 21:26 ; 23. Lily Pannkuk, West Anchorage 21:28 ; 24. Berit Meyers, West Anchorage 21:32 ; 25. Emily Moore, Chugiak 21:33.

26. Emilee Wilson, Kenai Central 21:39 ; 27. Ruthie Richardson, Service 21:39 ; 28. Sophia Mayers, West Anchorage 21:42 ; 29. Ada Burrup, Chugiak 21:52 ; 30. Shea Alaniva, Colony 21:58 ; 31. Tarja Latva Kiskol, West Anchorage 21:59 ; 32. Faith Mondeel, Grace Christian 22:02 ; 33. Sophia Coverdell, Grace Christian 22:02 ; 34. Elise Metzger, Grace Christian 22:05 ; 35. Georgia Thatcher, Grace Christian 22:06 ; 36. Alana Lim, Service 22:10 ; 37. Abby Novak, Colony 22:12 ; 38. Linnea Gray, Eagle River 22:16 ; 39. Nora McBride, Dimond 22:24 ; 40. Leah Fallon, Kenai Central 22:26 ; 41. Frida Renner, Homer 22:27 ; 42. Brynn Rathert, East Anchorage 22:29 ; 43. Rachel Danz, Colony 22:30 ; 44. Thea Offrink, East Anchorage 22:39 ; 45. Rebekah Annett, Grace Christian 22:45 ; 46. Katelynn Seibert, Dimond 22:45 ; 47. Azalea Daugherty, Chugiak 22:48 ; 48. Summer Foster, Kenai Central 22:52 ; 49. Liza Alderson, Service 22:53 ; 50. Keiko Wilson, Service 22:58.

51. Emily Moss, Kenai Central 23:07 ; 52. Eden Johnsen, Dimond 23:11 ; 53. Maia McCormack, Dimond 23:14 ; 54. Monica Bustillos, Colony 23:14 ; 55. Mya Campbell, Redington 23:17 ; 56. Arianna Espindola, Eagle River 23:19 ; 57. Jacey Spencer, Eagle River 23:19 ; 58. Lauren Gaskill, Dimond 23:25 ; 59. Anna Deaton, Eagle River 23:26 ; 60. Mykennan Rinella, Palmer 23:26 ; 61. Eryn Field, Homer 23:33 ; 62. Adelyn McCorison, Homer 23:34 ; 63. Piper Sears, West Anchorage 23:40 ; 64. Anna Abalos, Wasilla 23:44 ; 65. AwaLuk Nichols, Nome-Beltz 23:48 ; 66. Emma Hopkins, Colony 24:01 ; 67. Kaytlin McAnelly, Soldotna 24:04 ; 68. Sonia Montague, Soldotna 24:09 ; 69. Ellen Kruchoski, Chugiak 24:11 ; 70. Jordan Ruffner, Soldotna 24:12 ; 71. Monroe Swain, Palmer 24:15 ; 72. Kaidence Schaeffer, Soldotna 24:15 ; 73. Gracie Martin, Wasilla 24:21 ; 74. Adria Wuerth, Service 24:27 ; 75. Elisabeth Hennemann, Palmer 24:31.

76. Natalie Bader, East Anchorage 24:32 ; 77. Maddie Sivils, East Anchorage 24:37 ; 78. Riley Wilson, Eagle River 24:38 ; 79. Megan Whittom, Soldotna 24:40 ; 80. Fiona Phelan, Bethel 24:43 ; 81. Amanda Wright, East Anchorage 24:44 ; 82. Kiara Burnell, Barrow 24:45 ; 83. Mya Taylor, Kenai Central 24:48 ; 84. Kimberly Wolgemuth, Barrow 24:52 ; 85. Maya Komulainen, Bethel 25:26 ; 86. Della Medlin, Nome-Beltz 25:41 ; 87. Svea Thomas, East Anchorage 25:46 ; 88. Mariah McGuire, Homer 25:56 ; 89. Lucy Shea, Colony 25:59 ; 90. Gracie Norman, Palmer 26:05 ; 91. Winter Shaw, Palmer 26:06 ; 92. Maddox Berg, Homer 26:09 ; 93. Arriana Woods, Dillingham 26:17 ; 94. Elizabeth Lee, Wasilla 26:23 ; 95. Ariana Cannava, Soldotna 26:54 ; 96. Natallie Tobuk, Nome-Beltz 27:04 ; 97. Olivia Beck, Palmer 27:19 ; 98. Alqaq Small, Bethel 27:43 ; 99. Bea McDonough, Homer 28:30 ; 100. Leah Dunn, Homer 28:30.

101. Alex Buholm, Dillingham 29:25 ; 102. Cadence Cedars, Bethel 29:51 ; 103. Erin Martin, Dillingham 31:57 ; 104. Beth Hensley, Bethel 33:36 ; 105. Ayla Punzalan, Unalaska 34:32.

BOYS

Team scores: 1. Grace Christian, 35; 2. West, 96; 3. Service, 108; 4. Dimond, 142; 5. Colony, 144; 6. South, 185; 7. Palmer, 235; 8. Chugiak, 243; 9. Eagle River, 251; 10. East, 256; 11. Kenai, 287; 12. Wasilla, 296; 13. Soldotna, 305; 14. Homer, 312; 15. Bethel, 422; 16. Nome, 449; 17. Unalaska, 490.

1. Jared Gardiner, Dimond 16:37 ; 2. David Sliwinski, Grace Christian 16:53 ; 3. Seth Lochmann, Grace Christian 16:54 ; 4. Ethan Howe, East Anchorage 16:59 ; 5. Justin Lucas, Service 17:04 ; 6. Fischer Adams, Palmer 17:04 ; 7. Aiden Zingone, Grace Christian 17:04 ; 8. Ty Elliott, Grace Christian 17:05 ; 9. Seamus McDonough, Homer 17:07 ; 10. Hatcher Menkens, West Anchorage 17:08 ; 11. Ethan Eski, West Anchorage 17:12 ; 12. Aaron Power, Service 17:12 ; 13. Landon Hayes, Wasilla 17:14 ; 14. Max Johnsen, Dimond 17:16 ; 15. Robbie Annett, Grace Christian 17:17 ; 16. Liam Chisolm, West Anchorage 17:17 ; 17. Henry Michener, Eagle River 17:26 ; 18. Tobias Buchanan, Colony 17:28 ; 19. Owen Young, South Anchorage 17:29 ; 20. Gregory Fallon, Kenai Central 17:30 ; 21. Elias Soule, Service 17:30 ; 22. Jack Laker, Kenai Central 17:31 ; 23. Stephen Hafen, Colony 17:31 ; 24. Brennan Lackey, Wasilla 17:32 ; 25. Will Gerlach, Chugiak 17:32.

26. Ben Thatcher, Grace Christian 17:34 ; 27. Coby Marvin, Colony 17:35 ; 28. Issac Main, West Anchorage 17:41 ; 29. Blaise Boyer, South Anchorage 17:46 ; 30. Nicholas Prosser, Dimond 17:48 ; 31. Dylan Soberay, West Anchorage 17:49 ; 32. Jayden Rice, Colony 17:50 ; 33. Tobin Miller, Palmer 17:51 ; 34. Garret Simon, Service 17:58 ; 35. Lance Seneff, Homer 18:03 ; 36. Jevin Lim, Service 18:03 ; 37. Blake Brukardt, Chugiak 18:04 ; 38. Jason Hutchinson, South Anchorage 18:08 ; 39. Paul Hlsany, Service 18:11 ; 40. Murhpy Kimball, West Anchorage 18:18 ; 41. Nathanael Johnson, Soldotna 18:20 ; 42. Ryan Owens, Palmer 18:21 ; 43. Dash Dicang, Dimond 18:28 ; 44. Caleb Hilty, Colony 18:29 ; 45. Simon Nelson, Grace Christian 18:30 ; 46. Jonathan Gordon, Soldotna 18:34 ; 47. Joshua Penfield, Eagle River 18:35 ; 48. Rowan Robinson, South Anchorage 18:35 ; 49. Jack Klayum, Colony 18:36 ; 50. Forrest Rogers, West Anchorage 18:37.

51. Nolan Miller, South Anchorage 18:38 ; 52. Joshua Baker, Eagle River 18:38 ; 53. David Schweizer, East Anchorage 18:38 ; 54. Jarrett Jackson, Dimond 18:39 ; 55. Jacob Johnson, Dimond 18:39 ; 56. Dylan Autrey, Service 18:41 ; 57. Demetry Hoseth, Dillingham 18:42 ; 58. Owen Farr, Chugiak 18:47 ; 59. Tyler Hippchen, Kenai Central 18:49 ; 60. Owen Smedley, Chugiak 18:56 ; 61. Liam Albertson, East Anchorage 18:56 ; 62. Ely Hawes, South Anchorage 18:57 ; 63. Mason Card, South Anchorage 19:00 ; 64. Noa Kam-Magruder, Dimond 19:02 ; 65. Jacob Strausbaugh, Soldotna 19:06 ; 66. Benjamin Ringsmuth, Chugiak 19:07 ; 67. Landon Smith, Bethel 19:09 ; 68. Damien Borchardt, Eagle River 19:17 ; 69. Nathaniel Moreau, Eagle River 19:18 ; 70. Julio Ramirez, East Anchorage 19:21 ; 71. Nathan Rehberg, East Anchorage 19:22 ; 72. Herwin Riodil, Unalaska 19:23 ; 73. Colton Bobo, Chugiak 19:29 ; 74. Mason Newell, Chugiak 19:30 ; 75. Gareth Lecrone, East Anchorage 19:35.

76. Avery Willets, Soldotna 19:36 ; 77. Justin Trail, Nikolaevsk 19:38 ; 78. Ziven Witczak, Palmer 19:41 ; 79. Keenan Vedros, Eagle River 19:46 ; 80. Oles Witczak, Palmer 19:47 ; 81. Samuel Stapley, Houston 19:48 ; 82. Quinn Cox, Soldotna 19:48 ; 83. Jody Goodrich, Homer 19:50 ; 84. Son Erikson, Nome-Beltz 19:52 ; 85. Peter Crow, Bethel 19:52 ; 86. Kimball Wadsworth, Wasilla 19:53 ; 87. Madden Cockroft, Bethel 19:53 ; 88. Orson Hoogendorn, Nome-Beltz 19:59 ; 89. Carson Deans, Palmer 19:59 ; 90. Kendall Greathouse, Wasilla 19:59 ; 91. Paul Dyment, Bethel 20:10 ; 92. Logan Magee, Wasilla 20:11 ; 93. Braydon Whiteside, Nikiski 20:26 ; 94. Nathan Haakenson, Kenai Central 20:31 ; 95. Myles Campbell, Redington 20:36 ; 96. Deacon Callahan, Nome-Beltz 20:42 ; 97. Brock Barth, Homer 20:43 ; 98. Caleb Szajkowski, Eagle River 20:47 ; 99. Jon Smith, Nome-Beltz 20:50 ; 100. Jacob “Remi Venema, Palmer 21:00.

101. Garrett Briscoe, Homer 21:04 ; 102. Kameron Rexford, Barrow 21:08 ; 103. Robert Carson, Kenai Central 21:16 ; 104. Hayden Leeper, Nome-Beltz 21:21 ; 105. Mark Ahsoak, Barrow 21:28 ; 106. Trenton Boots, Soldotna 21:36 ; 107. Charlie Moyer, Unalaska 21:36 ; 108. Jasper Ross, Houston 21:37 ; 109. George Wright, Kenai Central 21:42 ; 110. Charles Smith, Bethel 21:48 ; 111. Tristen Hobbs, Nome-Beltz 21:49 ; 112. KC Balbarino, Unalaska 21:52 ; 113. Dawson Cowell, Redington 22:01 ; 114. Andrew Cox, Soldotna 22:18 ; 115. Eldred Paradeza, Unalaska 23:13 ; 116. Tucker Hiller, Homer 23:46 ; 117. Kyler Rexford, Barrow 24:13 ; 118. Lliam Boss-Harmon, Homer 25:02 ; 119. Nick Luois Amora, Unalaska 26:14 ; 120. Ricky Delarosa, Barrow 26:43.

Dimond’s Emily Erickson runs to victory in the girls varsity race at the Ted McKenney XC Invitational on Saturday, Aug. 21, 2021, at Tsalteshi Trails just outside of Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Dimond’s Emily Erickson runs to victory in the girls varsity race at the Ted McKenney XC Invitational on Saturday, Aug. 21, 2021, at Tsalteshi Trails just outside of Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Dimond’s Jared Gardiner takes the lead for good in the boys varsity race at the Ted McKenney XC Invitational on Saturday, Aug. 21, 2021, at Tsalteshi Trails just outside of Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Dimond’s Jared Gardiner takes the lead for good in the boys varsity race at the Ted McKenney XC Invitational on Saturday, Aug. 21, 2021, at Tsalteshi Trails just outside of Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Homer’s Seamus McDonough leads a pack early in the boys varsity race at the Ted McKenney XC Invitational on Saturday, Aug. 21, 2021, at Tsalteshi Trails just outside of Soldotna, Alaska. McDonough finished ninth in the race. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Homer’s Seamus McDonough leads a pack early in the boys varsity race at the Ted McKenney XC Invitational on Saturday, Aug. 21, 2021, at Tsalteshi Trails just outside of Soldotna, Alaska. McDonough finished ninth in the race. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Soldotna’s Jordan Strausbaugh races to 17th place in the girls varsity race at the Ted McKenney XC Invitational on Saturday, Aug. 21, 2021, at Tsalteshi Trails just outside of Soldotna, Alaska. “We run for Ted” is written on Strausbaugh’s thigh in honor of former Soldotna coach Ted McKenney. Strausbaugh runs with South’s Elizabeth Page and Eagle River’s Ava Trembath. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Soldotna’s Jordan Strausbaugh races to 17th place in the girls varsity race at the Ted McKenney XC Invitational on Saturday, Aug. 21, 2021, at Tsalteshi Trails just outside of Soldotna, Alaska. “We run for Ted” is written on Strausbaugh’s thigh in honor of former Soldotna coach Ted McKenney. Strausbaugh runs with South’s Elizabeth Page and Eagle River’s Ava Trembath. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

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