Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Boys Are State Champs (Again!)

The West Valley boys cross country team won its first state title in 30 years last fall after two hard fought runners up finishes in 2010 and 2011. In skiing they had a strong but young team this year, a season in which they hardly raced as a team because of bad weather. They had not raced against Anchorage teams all year, and the only two races in which they had a full team (more or less all the varsity-near varsity) skiers in the same race was at a Town Race in January (10K classic) and at the Regional Championships the other week.

Going in everyone knew that powerhouses South and Service High Schools would be the teams to beat, and that these teams usually found a way to win and that they were older-more experienced than the West Valley squad (four sophomores and two seniors made the team).

On day 1 in the 7.5K classic as expected, South took control with a 1:40 lead over West Valley, and Service was another 1:40 back. No one else was very close.

We drove down for day 2 last Friday, which was my birthday. We got up at an unholy hour (3 or so) thinking that leaving at 4 would give plenty of time. Not So! Roads were icy and we got to Kincaid Park just in time to hear the two minute warning for the 12 noon start.

The boys were on fire from the gun, although it looked like South's Tanner Ramey might steal the show--he was out by 15 seconds early on but after an off day on Thursday could he hold it? No. West Valley's diminutive Max Donaldson hung back in third place for most of the first lap before turning it on to take the win by an easy 34 seconds. The trails were rockin' as Jonathan Koenig and my own son Tristan moved into the top 10, right up there with the best skiers in the state. They held on with mighty good form to take 6th and 8th, while young Jesse Mayo just in his second year of competitive skiing held off teammate Riley to score an 18th. The boys had won the day by nearly 5 minutes and now had a 2:50 lead on on South. Almost unbeatable.

They gave it their all on Saturday, with Riley leading off and fighting hard to take 5th, about 24 seconds behind South's Eric Backstrum. That lead switched quickly as Service's Matthew Muffoletto blasted out of the gates and built up a 20-25 second lead of his own by half way through his classic leg. Meanwhile Jonathan moved up steadily and just a km to go, he was 2nd, closing in on a tying Muffoletto. Tristan was about 7 second out of second place, behind a senior from Service who looked bigger and stronger and faster heading out of the stadium. But half way through the leg on the on a mid-sized hill on the Lekisch Loop I could see the Service athlete tie up and make a head check. Tristan was only five or six seconds back and he looked fresh, so I yelled "You've Got Him!"

Tristan exiting the tunnel in the lead near the end of his leg (Anchorage Daily News)

Sure enough when their profiles came into view on the far side of the biathlon range a few minutes later, Tristan had gapped the Service skier and the field. He held on nicely to give Max a 6 second lead, and it was over before it started. Max was totally in control and extended his lead to 22 seconds by the end. Bringing home the state championship for the first time in 20 years.

A job well done boys!

And Kudos to the coaches, Christina Turman, Greg Whisenhant, and Eric Hoffman as well as Pete Leonard and Greg for their excellent waxing on the weekend.

(I helped a bit with the team this season [plus with the skiers that I coach year-round] but was just a parent/fan for state, a role I could get to like).


Anonymous umzug said...

Thanks to topic

3:49 AM  

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