By JEFF BRADY
The Skagway boys cross-country team took the top medals at last weekends Region V Class 1A-2A-3A race in Sitka, routing its nearest opponents by 22 points.
Sophomore Russell Bush won the race and freshman Kyle Mulvihill placed second. Skagways next four runners, John McCluskey, Stan Bush, Garrett Henry and Jeremy Kilburn finished in the top 20, solidifying the region title.
Were really elated, said coach Gary Trozzo, who was packing up his team Wednesday for the trip to this Saturdays ASAA Cross-Country Meet in Palmer.
Going into the regional race, Trozzo said the team would need to stay focused. For a while in Sitka, he said he was a little worried.
Having a lot of young kids, I didnt know how theyd react to pressure, he said. The kids were a little tense.
Once the race started, the teams strategy was to keep moving forward in packs to stay ahead of opponents. After a mile, Bush was out in front and Mulvihill was in fifth, but the rest of the Skagway kids were in a pack around 30th position. Trozzo, who was stationed out on the course, told those runners they had to move up. A half mile later, things started looking better, he said. Mulvihill had sprinted to second spot and both leaders were pulling away, and the other Skagway runners were making their moves.
Kyle Mulvhilll rears back for his sprint to the finish during the Skagway Invitational on Sept. 15. Photos by Kristin Brown
With the race half over, Trozzo said he sprinted to the finish line to catch the end of the race. Bush and Mulvihill finished strong, but there were three Haines runners in the top 10. John McCluskey had the tenth spot coming toward the finish line, but he just couldnt hold it at the end, and was beaten by a foot.
Trozzo then saw four more blue shirts coming round the bend. I felt we might have it then, he said.
Stan Bush took 17th, and Henry and Kilburn crossed the finish line together for the 19th and 20th spots. That was more than enough to beat second place Mt. Edgecumbe and Wrangell.
It was Skagways first cross-country team championship since it won the region and state titles in 1987, and Russell Bush became Skagways first individual Region V 1A-2A-3A champion.
All season long, Russell had raced with 4A runners, finishing second twice to Juneau-Douglas Jesse Stringer, and fourth behind Stringer and two other J-D runners at the home meet on Sept. 15, despite having a personal best time of 17:24 on the hilly home course.
When he hit the flatter Sitka course racing against just small school opponents, Russell was the man to beat. How did he handle the pressure?
I approached it with the mentality that I needed to do exactly what I needed to do to win, Russell said, indicating he could have run a faster race. Im really proud of Kyle stepping it up and having a good finish ... and of our fourth and fifth guys. If they wouldnt have stepped up we wouldnt be going to State.
Trozzo and his ace runner said the team should be competitive at State. Based on times alone, it appears Anchorage Christian and Valdez are the teams to beat, they said.
At least one 4A opponent is impressed with Skagway. Following his impressive showing on Skagways tough course on Sept. 15, Southeast 4A champ Stringer had praise for his Skagway opponents.
Russell came out of nowhere this year it shows hes been training, Stringer said. He should do great at State, definitely top 10.
Trozzo hopes his young team can handle the pressure at State the way they handled it at Regionals.
From left, Skagway runners Kortney Grieser, Jenny Sinka, Coleen Ketterman, Crystal Ketterman, Madeleine Nyhagen, and Ashley Law take off at the start of the Skagway Invitational . Photos by Kristin Brown
He added that for all the elation over the boys win, he felt bad for the girls team, but they showed a lot of promise in taking fourth place.
Crystal Ketterman, despite having a personal best 23:29, finished 12th at Sitka and didnt qualify for State. But she proved to herself that she can run well with an asthmatic condition, Trozzo said, and should crack the top 10 nest year. Ashley Law and Savannah Ames were in the top 25 at Regionals as well.
Box of Rocks records tumble, Mench fastest
The annual trek to Upper Dewey Lake had a record 34 participants, with Mark Mench setting a new time record of 45:50. Ryan Forester was the youngest racer at 13, and as is tradition, Lez Marchant had no idea a race was going on, said event organizer Bruce Weber.
Weber thanked TEMSCO Helicopters for their support, and also those who hiked up warm clothes and libations for the racers and hosted a great party at the top for the racers on Sept. 15.
Results: 1. Mark Mench, 45:50; 2. Peter Jepsen, 48:12; 3. Curt Dodd, 50:50; 4. Nick Rodig, 54:00; 5. Jeremy Simmons, 65:00; 6. Paul Reichert, 67:00; 7. Bruce Weber, 68:00; 8. Chris Kaufman, 70:00; 9. Paul Getzler, 71:00; 10. Ralf Gorichanaz, 72:00; 11. Craig Jennison, 73:00; 12. Kip Wheeler, 74:00; 13. Nan Saldi, 75:00; 14. Vicky Moy, 80:00; 15. Julene Fairbanks, 80:00; 16. Jim Jewell, 82:00; 17. Mark Larson, 82:00; 18. Mike Korsmo, 83:00; 19. Peter Graves 87:00; 20. Wade Gruhl, 89:00; 21. Cindy Gaddis, 89:00; 22. Joe Duimstra, 1:40:00; 23. Rod Fairbanks, 1:46:00; 24. Darren Donahue, 1:46:00; 25. Tim Fairbanks, 1:47:00; 26. Marsha Columbo, 1:50:00; 27. Josh Holmes, 1:50:00; 28. Dustin Hansen, 1:50:00; 29. Ryan Forrester, 1:55:00; and 31. Nicky Bunting, 32. Chelsea Nilsen, 33. Paul Murray, 34. Lez Marchant, times not available.
losses and two ties.