LEADER OF THE PACK

Kyle Mulvihill of Skagway bounds up a hill on the Mike Janacek Trail system en route to a ninth-place finish in the boys 1-2-3A state cross-country championships race Sept. 28 in Palmer. – Erik Hill/Anchorage Daily News

Mulvihill takes 9th in State X-C Meet

By JEFF BRADY
For half a race at least, Southeast cross-country champ Kyle Mulvhill could say he was the best in the State.
The Skagway sophomore led the pack for the first half of the Class 1A-2A-3A Cross-Country State Championship in Palmer on Sept. 28, but he was caught by faster runners in the second half and finished ninth. Mulvihill’s time was 17:50.85, 50 seconds off the winning time posted by Jake Moe of Anchorage Christian.
Skagway coach Jeff Kasler said he was very proud of Mulvihill.
“Our strategy was to go out with the leaders, but he took it further,” sprinting out ahead of the pack for the first 100 yards, Kasler said. “He had that look.”
When Mulvihill completed the first loop, he was still leading by 15 yards, and Kasler said he got real excited with Skagway spectator Tom Selmer. They started thinking about who to call first if Mulvhill kept up his lead.
But on the next loop, the pack had caught up to Mulvihill and over the next half mile he dropped from first to eighth or ninth, Kasler said.
The ninth place finish was the first top 10 finish by a Skagway runner at State since the State championship team placed two in the top 10 in 1987, Kasler said.
A tweak in the strategy could mean a higher finish for Mulvihill next year.
“In the end, if he had not gone out quite as fast, with the pack instead of ahead of it, he probably could have moved up a few spots,” Kasler said.
He will encourage Mulvihill to run more in June and July before practice starts in August. That could give him the edge.
“If he wants it bad enough next year, he could be our first state champ since Richard Hunz (1970s).”

For complete State meet results, see the Sept. 29 local sports section at www.juneauempire.com.

Volleyball & Wrestling Previews

2002 SHS spikers: bottom row from left, senior Lucie Straub, senior Jenny Andrews, senior Miranda Collecchi, freshman Tiffanie Potter; back row, sophomore Sarah Sternbergh, senior Brandy Schneider, senior Colleen Ketterman, coach Rebecca Heise, freshman Audrey Neitzer, and freshman Candi Ketterman. - JB

Alum to lead Panther spikers
Rebecca Heger Heise, a 2000 graduate of Skagway High School, was chosen by the Skagway School Board to be the new volleyball coach.
Heise, 20, said that even though the job posting said applicants had to be 21 years old, the district was unable to find anything in Alaska School Activities Association policy that prohibited hiring a younger coach. She was the only applicant and was offered the job after an interview at the end of September.
Heise was a cross-country star and also played volleyball and basketball during her high school years. She had nine players out for volleyball last week – three more than she started with – and she said the team spirit is great.
“They are a good group of girls, but I have to remind them this is volleyball, not dancing,” she said as the music blared from a CD player during practice drills.
Heise said senior Miranda Collecchi is a strong team leader and is helping the new coach work with the young team on fundamentals and getting them in good condition.
“They’ll be in good shape by the time I get done with them,” Heise said.
The team will travel to meets in Klawock Oct. 14-15 and Ketchikan Oct. 18-19 to open the season. There are no home matches this season, but spectators may catch them in action in Juneau Nov. 1-2.

2002 wrestlers: from left, 8th graders Brent Beckner and Aaron Kilburn, senior Kyle Ellis, freshman Trevor Cochran, sophomore Crystal Ketterman, and freshmen Michelle Harris and Madeleine Nyhagen. Front and center is coach Josh Coughran. - JB

Girls outnumber boy SHS wrestlers
The SHS wrestling team will open the season with three girls and two boys on the squad, coached for the third season by Josh Coughran.
Senior Kyle Ellis (135 lbs.) and sophomore Crystal Ketterman (119 lbs.) are the team veterans. They posted some big wins last season and have a shot at placing at regionals, even though it will be harder this year. New ASAA rules for class 1A-2A-3A say that the top three in a weight class at regionals can go to State, instead of the top six as in the past, the coach said. For now, the team is concentrating on basics.
“Kyle and Crystal are showing leadership and helping their teammates get into shape,” Coughran said. “We are getting into wrestling shape and teaching new techniques to the freshmen.”
New to the team this year are freshmen Trevor Cochran (189 lbs.), Madeleine Nyhagen (113 lbs.) and Michelle Harris, (weight class to be determined).
After the first meet at Hoonah Oct. 18-19, wrestlers may try to move up or down in weight for better match-ups. Coughran said Cochran has shown some aggressiveness at the start which could help him, but he expects all the freshmen to “take their lumps” early in the season.
Helping the team is 2002 SHS graduate Chris Shockley, who went to State last year. He is sharing some freestyle moves that he learned in Australia. Coughran also is working with eighth graders Aaron
Kilburn, Brent Beckner, Ryan Forester and Shawn Landers, who are practicing with the team.
As with volleyball, there are no home matches this year, so the best chance to see the wrestlers in action will be in Juneau Nov. 22-23. – JEFF BRADY