Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion West Valley's Kendall Kramer and West's Molly Gellert run together just over two kilometers into the Tsalteshi Invitational at Tsalteshi Trails on Saturday. Kramer would pull away from Gellert for the victory.

Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion West Valley's Kendall Kramer and West's Molly Gellert run together just over two kilometers into the Tsalteshi Invitational at Tsalteshi Trails on Saturday. Kramer would pull away from Gellert for the victory.

Tsalteshi Invitational sets plotlines for state cross-country season

The mix of beginning and end that is the Tsalteshi Invitational once again set the plot for the cross-country season Saturday at Tsalteshi Trails.

Beginning because this is the first major race of the season. End because fall colors are already sprinkling the trees of the ski trails, a handy reminder that the state meet looms Oct. 1.

Among the plotlines hatched Saturday over five hilly kilometers:

• West Valley freshman Kendall Kramer ran 19 minutes, 7 seconds, to beat defending Tsalteshi and Class 4A state champ Molly Gellert of West by 34 seconds. Does Alaska have its next freshman running phenom?

• West senior Finn Walker, who was fourth at Tsalteshi last year and third at Class 4A state, won the boys race in 16:07. But five runners were within 21 seconds of him. And junior Gus Schumacher, runner-up at Tsalteshi and Class 4A state last season, didn’t run. Will the Class 4A title be up for grabs between a pack of runners?

• Glennallen senior Briahna Gerlach, last year’s Tsalteshi champion, is bidding for a fourth Class 1-2-3A state title this season. But Gerlach was 16th Saturday in 20:33, while Grace Christian’s Grace Gannon was fourth in 19:45. Can Gerlach make up that ground?

• While defending 4A boys team champ West was dominant Saturday, winning by 81 points, defending 4A girls champ Kenai Central did not have top runner Riana Boonstra and was 11th behind champ Chugiak. Can the Kards rally for a title defense?

• Homer was by far and away the class of the 1-2-3A teams Saturday, sharing fourth with Palmer on the girls side and taking fourth on the boys side. While the girls look for a third-straight state title, the boys must overtake Sitka, the 2015 state champion which skipped the Tsalteshi meet. Is a Homer state sweep in the cards?

Kramer became the first freshman champion at Tsalteshi since Kenai Central’s Allie Ostrander in 2011, who hello worlded that year in 17:53.

But Kramer was concerned with Gellert on Saturday. The West Valley freshman finished fifth behind the Mount Marathon junior girls champion Gellert this summer, and has seen enough of Gellert’s ski races to know how formidable of an endurance athlete she was pacing the first three kilometers.

“I was surprised she didn’t just blow by me,” Kramer said.

But the true surprise for Kramer came when Gellert started breathing hard and fell back to third, with South’s Maggie Meeds passing Gellert for second.

Kramer, who finished 31st in the girls 13- and 14-year-old 4,000-meter run at the Junior Olympic Cross Country Championships in New Mexico in December, has taken a big step toward her freshman goal.

“My goal for this whole year is to win state,” she said. “I have no idea if that’s possible, but I hope to keep this up.”

Jaycie Calvert led the Kenai girls and the Kenai Peninsula by taking 12th in 20:21. She was disappointed in that after running 19:33 last year, but added that she and her team have the whole season to improve.

Last season, Kenai was fifth at Tsalteshi with a fourth-place finish from Boonstra.

“It’s only like the second meet of the year,” Calvert said. “We just have to keep improving all the time.”

The next Class 1-2-3A girls team behind Homer’s tie for fourth was Grace in ninth. Megan Pitzman paced Homer at 19th, while Kellie Arthur led Soldotna at 45th.

The boys race featured a solid lead pack that only fragmented in the last kilometer. As West’s final team score of just 32 would attest, many of those frontrunners were Eagles.

“A shoutout to my team,” Walker said. “They stayed with the front pack.”

Walker said he hadn’t trained as much this summer, but said he’s always been a good finisher. Kodiak’s Keith Osowski ran 16:14 to finish seven seconds out of first.

“I’m really looking forward to it,” Walker said of a season where so many runners are threats to win. “I’m trying to get a new PR and close races help that.”

Homer’s Jared Brant led the peninsula by finishing 13th in 16:57, while teammate Jacob Davis was right behind in 16th. Grace was the next Class 1-2-3A team at 13th.

“I was just focusing on my good buddy Jake,” Brant, a senior, said of Davis. “I’m just telling everybody to focus on the next fastest runner on our team.

“If we all focus on the next fastest runner, we can feed off each other every race.”

Homer’s top five were all under 18 minutes this year after just Brant was under 18 at Tsalteshi last season.

Josh Shuler led Soldotna by taking 35th in 17:31, while Braden Olsen was 40th in 17:44 to lead Kenai.

Tsalteshi Invitational

Saturday at Tsalteshi Trails

GIRLS

Team scores: 1. Chugiak, 81; 2. West Valley, 136; 3. Dimond, 142; 4. Palmer, Homer 155; 6. Colony, 156; 7. West, 163; 8. Service, 164; 9. Grace, 174; 10. South, 223; 11. Kenai, 235; 12. Kodiak, 271; 13. Eagle River, 295; 14. Soldotna, 361; 15. Wasilla, 406; 16. Nome, 466; 17. Bethel, 473.

1. Kendall Kramer, West Valley 19:07;2. Maggie Meeds, South Anchorage 19:34; 3. Molly Gellert, West Anchorage 19:41; 4. Grace Gannon, Grace Christian 19:45; 5. Magdalen York, West Anchorage 19:59; 6. Kylie Judd, Dimond 20:00; 7. Ruby Woodings, Palmer 20:06; 8. Emma Sees, Chugiak 20:08; 9. Grace Fahrney, Service 20:09; 10. Brynn Kruchoski, Chugiak 20:11; 11. Jill Bowker, Colony 20:20; 12. Jaycie Calvert, Kenai Central 20:21; 13. Maggie Druckenmill, West Valley 20:22; 14. Mazzy Jackson, Grace Christian 20:25; 15. Allison VanPelt, Houston 20:27; 16. Briahna Gerlach, Glennallen 20:33; 17. Nichole Blake, Service 20:35; 18. Emma Nelson, Chugiak 20:35; 19. Megan Pitzman, Homer 20:36; 20. Peyton Young, Eagle River 20:37; 21. Adrianna Proffitt, Chugiak 20:37; 22. Emma Jerome, West Valley 20:38; 23. Honey Rose Macatuno, Kodiak 20:38; 24. Ruth Cvancara, Dimond 20:38; 25. Coleen Geraghty, Colony 20:40.

26. Audrey Rosencrans, Homer 20:41; 27. Elisabeth Bowker, Colony 20:41; 28. Clare Howard, Service 20:47; 29. Arielle Himelbloom, Kodiak 20:53; 30. KayLee Manwaring, Chugiak 20:54; 31. Jania Tumey, West Anchorage 20:58; 32. Alex Moseley, Homer 20:59; 33. Ariana Foy, Dimond 21:05; 34. Lauren Evarts, Homer 21:07; 35. Lydia Ortiz, Palmer 21:18; 36. Addison Gibson, Kenai Central 21:20; 37. Grace Annett, Grace Christian 21:22; 38. Bailey Roe, West Valley 21:24; 39. Rya Berrigan, Palmer 21:25; 40. Sophia Nowers, Palmer 21:26; 41. Allison Shafer, Dimond 21:26; 42. Shandra Cutsforth, Palmer 21:30; 43. Ithaca Bergholtz, Kenai Central 21:33; 44. Hannah Brown, South Anchorage 21:34; 45. Kellie Arthur, Soldotna 21:36; 46. Calee Stark, Dimond 21:39; 47. Carolynn Pype, Bartlett 21:42; 48. Madeline Maurer, Service 21:44; 49. Sadie Oswald, South Anchorage 21:49; 50. Maddie Christianse, Kodiak 21:49.

51. Amanda Mayer, Colony 21:53; 52. Cathelyne Powers, Colony 21:56; 53. Mary Reinbold, Dimond 21:59; 54. Maddy Morgan, Grace Christian 22:02; 55. Haley Knott, Homer 22:02; 56. Geneva Higley, Colony 22:03; 57. Emma Blei, Chugiak 22:12; 58. Madison Childers, Dimond 22:16; 59. Molly Erickson, Soldotna 22:16; 60. Katie Davis, Homer 22:17; 61. Elena Eberhardt, South Anchorage 22:19; 62. Kate Paskievitch, Eagle River 22:19; 63. Cameron Blackwell, Soldotna 22:25; 64. Brooke Satathite, Kenai Central 22:25; 65. Elizabeth Mans, West Anchorage 22:33; 66. Carissa Vasquez, Wasilla 22:37; 67. Lily Slatonbarke, West Anchorage 22:38; 68. Tatiana Harris, West Anchorage 22:39; 69. Sophie Prichard, West Valley 22:41; 70. Brynn Steiner, Wasilla 22:44; 71. Adela Rueter, West Valley 22:45; 72. Hillary Tschappat-L, Service 22:50; 73. Laura Ellis, Grace Christian 22:52; 74. Analisa Cederberg, Eagle River 22:57; 75. Nadia Dworian, Service 23:00.

76. Tamara Brabson, Eagle River 23:07; 77. Bonnie Perkins, Eagle River 23:12; 78. Emma Ulrich, South Anchorage 23:14; 79. Dorothy Bukowski, Bethel 23:15; 80. Jordan Meredith, Eagle River 23:16; 81. Anna McLaughlin, Grace Christian 23:17; 82. Ashlyn Johnson, East Anchorage 23:19; 83. Veronica Stewart, Eagle River 23:31; 84. Lily Sessom, Colony 23:36; 85. Erin Sivitz, West Anchorage 23:46; 86. Starr Erikson, Nome-Beltz 23:46; 87. Sarah Laker, Grace Christian 23:49; 88. Jordan Burroughs, Wasilla 23:51; 89. Sanne Cassee, South Anchorage 23:54; 90. Chandra Christianse, Kodiak 23:56; 91. Margeaux Bailey, East Anchorage 24:00; 92. Mackenzie Lindeman, Kenai Central 24:09; 93. Haley Hanson, Palmer 24:18; 94. Hannah Armbrust, South Anchorage 24:33; 95. Katie Parnell, Kodiak 24:44; 96. Mary Fiskeaux, Nome-Beltz 24:58; 97. Lindsey Beans-Polk, Bethel 25:14; 98. Mallory Conger, Nome-Beltz 25:31; 99. Kayla Lopez, Wasilla 25:31; 100. Lorraine Gregory, East Anchorage 25:51.

101. Shalom Neff, Kodiak 25:51; 102. Korah Burlew, Kodiak 25:58; 103. Ava Earthman, Nome-Beltz 26:10; 104. Amelia Butler, Wasilla 26:18; 105. Britney Boney, Bethel 26:33; 106. Moira Sheldon, Kotzebue 26:37; 107. Sophie Thomas, Soldotna 26:44; 108. Brianna Levy, East Anchorage 26:50; 109. Grace Lilly, Bartlett 27:06; 110. Justis Geerdts, Bethel 28:14; 111. Emily Hoke, Kotzebue 28:50; 112. Elizabeth Lisenby, Soldotna 29:49; 113. Daynon Medlin, Nome-Beltz 29:57; 114. Kayla Booth, Kotzebue 30:35; 115. Tovia Bremond-Hil, Soldotna 30:50; 116. Madison Abolafia, Bethel 36:14.

BOYS

Team scores: 1. West, 32; 2. West Valley, 113; 3. South, 121; 4. Homer, 129; 5. Kodiak, 199; 6. Service, 202; 7. Colony, 219; 8. Dimond, 221; 9. Wasilla, 224; 10. Eagle River, 263; 11. Soldotna, 299; 12. Chugiak, 305; 13. Grace, 320; 14. East, 350; 15. Palmer, 373; 16. Kenai, 449; 17. Bartlett, 469; 18. Nome, 534; 19. Bethel, 551; 20. Kotzebue, 590.

1. Finn Walker, West Anchorage 16:07; 2. Keith Osowski, Kodiak 16:14; 3. Tracen Knopp, Colony 16:15; 4. Ti Donaldson, West Valley 16:17; 5. Luke Jager, West Anchorage 16:28; 6. Declan Dammeyer, West Anchorage 16:28; 7. Cameron Sheldon, Dimond 16:44; 8. Sebastian Szweda Mitt, Service 16:44; 9. Tristan Wiese, West Anchorage 16:47; 10. Zephan Ozturgut, East Anchorage 16:47; 11. Foster Birnbaum, West Anchorage 16:53; 12. Hunter Hayes, Wasilla 16:55; 13. Jared Brant, Homer 16:56; 14. Santiago Prosser, South Anchorage 16:56; 15. Isaac Larson, Bartlett 16:58; 16. Jacob Davis, Homer 17:00; 17. Talon Stanley, South Anchorage 17:00; 18. Alex Schuerch, East Anchorage 17:03; 19. Aaron Bravo, West Valley 17:08; 20. Jack Hannah, Kodiak 17:09; 21. Nick Carl, Eagle River 17:09; 22. Luke Meiwes, South Anchorage 17:11; 23. Mason Keffalos, South Anchorage 17:15; 24. Luciano Fasulo, Homer 17:16; 25. Lyle Chamberlain, UNAFFILIATED 17:16.

26. Elliot Kenaston, West Valley 17:18; 27. Brian Britt, West Anchorage 17:19; 28. Max Hartke, Chugiak 17:20 ; 29. Brennan Baumgartner, Service 17:22; 30. Trent Fritzel, Grace Christian 17:22; 31. Jordan Beachy, Homer 17:25 ; 32. Gavin Block, Colony 17:26; 33. Ben Koenig, West Valley 17:27; 34. Parker Stoltz, West Valley 17:30; 35. Josh Shuler, Soldotna 17:31; 36. Niko Latva-Kisko, Dimond 17:35; 37. Isaak Bell, Wasilla 17:36; 38. Carter Gladwill, Eagle River 17:37; 39. Camron Herron, West Valley 17:42; 40. Braden Olsen, Kenai Central 17:44; 41. Kaleb Greathouse, Wasilla 17:45; 42. Sam York, West Anchorage 17:45; 43. Wyatt Dodge, Service 17:46; 44. Michael Maddox, Eagle River 17:47; 45. Luke Fritzel, Grace Christian 17:49; 46. Logan Borger, South Anchorage 17:51; 47. Charlie Menke, Homer 17:51; 48. Brenden Thompson, Kodiak 17:52; 49. Jack Divelbiss, Dimond 17:53; 50. Gabe Martin, Grace Christian 17:56.

51. Jacob Belanger, Service 17:57; 52. Kaleb Beloy, South Anchorage 18:00; 53. Jackson Peters, Colony 18:01; 54. Jeff Lautrup, Colony 18:02; 55. Andrew Hull, South Anchorage 18:02; 56. Connor Owens, Palmer 18:04; 57. Leif Mumma, Palmer 18:04; 58. Rocky Schaefer, West Valley 18:04; 59. Liam Baez-Terry, Chugiak 18:07; 60. Koby Vinson, Soldotna 18:12; 61. Kaden Denton, Dimond 18:12; 62. Dexter Lowe, Homer 18:14; 63. Gabe Nummer, Kodiak 18:15; 64. Jeremy Kupferschmid, Soldotna 18:17; 65. Tommy McCormick, Chugiak 18:17; 66. Karl Danielson, Kenai Central 18:19; 67. Eliasson VanPelt, Wasilla 18:19; 68. John-Mark Pothast, Soldotna 18:20; 69. Anthony Maghupoy, Kodiak 18:22; 70. Torsten Renner, Eagle River 18:23; 71. Daniel Waitman, Wasilla 18:24; 72. Dastzeni Tibbits, Dimond 18:27; 73. Sean Swalling, Dimond 18:32; 74. Miles Dennis, Chugiak 18:32; 75. Fintan Nakada, Service 18:34.

76. McKinley Larson, Wasilla 18:35; 77. Addison Downing, Soldotna 18:35; 78. Denver Waclawski, Homer 18:36; 79. Joe Divelbiss, Dimond 18:37; 80. Jens Knutson, Houston 18:38; 81. Bechler Metcalf, Soldotna 18:38; 82. Riley Scott, Houston 18:38; 83. Josh Taylor, Colony 18:38; 84. Amiqaq Maclean, Palmer 18:40; 85. Wilson Hoogendorn, Nome-Beltz 18:41; 86. Max Beiergrohsl, Chugiak 18:42; 87. Seth Burnett, Kodiak 18:43; 88. Michael Bersin, Kodiak 18:43; 89. Lance Chilton, Soldotna 18:44; 90. Caden Gerlach, Glennallen 18:44; 91. Johnie Burton, Palmer 18:45; 92. Sam Deering, Colony 18:46; 93. Hayden Steiner, Wasilla 18:48; 94. Justin Carpenter, Service 18:49; 95. Joseph Aist, Service 18:50; 96. Jacob Kosinski, Chugiak 18:53; 97. Thane Barta, Eagle River 18:54; 98. Chase Rosenberg, Palmer 18:55; 99. Harry Baldwin, Kotzebue 19:02; 100. Aaron Rose, Nome-Beltz 19:03.

101. Blake Dearborn, Chugiak 19:07; 102. Levi Gionet, Grace Christian 19:10; 103. Hunter Crace, Bethel 19:11; 104. Tobin Karlberg, Grace Christian 19:12; 105. Jaylon Miller, East Anchorage 19:16; 106. Declan Reid, Bartlett 19:18; 107. Luke Arthur, Colony 19:22; 108. Joshua Johnson, Eagle River 19:24; 109. Lawrence Poe, Bethel 19:27; 110. Julian Davis, Palmer 19:37; 111. Ryan Reid, Bartlett 19:37; 112. Erik Brainerd, East Anchorage 19:44; 113. Cy Dull, Kenai Central 19:47; 114. Hayden Lieb, Bethel 19:53; 115. Matthew Nielson, Nome-Beltz 19:55; 116. Isaac Smoldon, Houston 19:59; 117. Zeke Eakin, Kotzebue 20:19; 118. Andrew McNab, East Anchorage 20:26; 119. Kellen Tyrrell, East Anchorage 20:29; 120. Ray Daniel, Bethel 20:32; 121. Jamie Yi, Nome-Beltz 20:34; 122. Jaycob Goff, Kenai Central 20:39; 123. Gavin Cullings, Eagle River 20:41; 124. Alden Bookey, Kenai Central 20:48; 125. Sean Dorsey, Glennallen 20:50.

126. Orion Roach, East Anchorage 20:56; 127. Merrich Schwingendo, Bartlett 20:59; 128. Seth Smith, Bethel 21:07; 129. Avery Hoffman, Bethel 21:11; 130. Jonathan Miller, Glennallen 21:36; 131. Jonathan Dorsey, Glennallen 21:38; 132. Bath Andrew, Bartlett 21:56; 133. Cameron Westlake, Bartlett 22:19; 134. Harley Ryder, Kotzebue 22:42; 135. Trenton Nazuruk, Kotzebue 22:47; 136. Earl Polk, Bethel 23:12; 137. John Wade, Nome-Beltz 23:22; 138. Xavier Jones, Kotzebue 23:46; 139. Kaiden Conwell, Kotzebue 23:49; 140. Brian Stalker, Kotzebue 26:15.

Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion Eagle River's Peyton Young leads Kenai Central's Jaycie Calvert down a hill about 1.5 kilometers into the Tsalteshi Invitational at Tsalteshi Trails on Saturday.

Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion Eagle River’s Peyton Young leads Kenai Central’s Jaycie Calvert down a hill about 1.5 kilometers into the Tsalteshi Invitational at Tsalteshi Trails on Saturday.

Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion West's Finn Walker pulls the lead pack away from the field about halfway through the Tsalteshi Invitational at Tsalteshi Trails on Saturday.

Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion West’s Finn Walker pulls the lead pack away from the field about halfway through the Tsalteshi Invitational at Tsalteshi Trails on Saturday.

Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion The boys race travels up a hill at the start of the Tsalteshi Invitational on Saturday at Tsalteshi Trails.

Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion The boys race travels up a hill at the start of the Tsalteshi Invitational on Saturday at Tsalteshi Trails.

Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion Homer's Megan Pitzman leads Colony's Jill Bowker a little over two kilometers into the Tsalteshi Invitational at Tsalteshi Trails on Saturday.

Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion Homer’s Megan Pitzman leads Colony’s Jill Bowker a little over two kilometers into the Tsalteshi Invitational at Tsalteshi Trails on Saturday.

Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion Homer's Jacob Davis finishes 16th in the boys race at the Tsalteshi Invitational on Saturday at Tsalteshi Trails.

Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion Homer’s Jacob Davis finishes 16th in the boys race at the Tsalteshi Invitational on Saturday at Tsalteshi Trails.

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