Chugiak skiers have eyes on the prize
Boys eye state title while girls have uphill battle to defend crown
Chugiak sophomore Sarissa Lammers eyes the course during the Lynx Loppet classic race on Dec. 9 at Kincaid Park. Lammers, who finished fifth at the Lynx Loppet, was eighth overall at last year’s state ski meet and is the top returning skier from a Chugiak girls team that won the Class 4A state title in February.
STAR PHOTO BY MATT TUNSETH
First-year Chugiak Nordic ski coach Mikey Evans is hoping a summer’s worth of workouts can help propel his Nordic ski team to the top of the state heap by winter’s end.
“You have to put in that work,” Evans said on Dec. 10 following the season-opening Lynx Loppet races at Kincaid Park.
A number of Chugiak’s top skiers are also members of the Chugiak-based Alaska Nordic Racing program, which held workouts all summer for any skier who wanted to put in the hours. And many did — including a pair of senior twins who could be the key to Chugiak’s boys team’s success this season.
Robert and James Colles were left off Chugiak’s state meet roster last season, but Evans said the duo were among his hardest workers in the off season.
“Those two put in a ton of work over the summer,” Evans said.
The Colles brothers will be expected to step up to replace another set of twins — Peter and Kenny Brewer — who were among five Mustangs in the top 20 at state last season.
They’ll join a trio of the state’s top skiers to help the Mustangs challenge for a title this season. Senior Isaac Lammers was sixth at the state meet last season — and the top junior — and proved he’s the skier to beat with a dominant win at the Lynx Loppet. Behind Lammers are talented junior Alex Loan (10th at state as a sophomore last season) and sophomore David McPhetres (19th at state in March).
Loan said he believes the Chugiak boys will be looking to improve upon the team’s third place state meet finish a year ago.
“I think we have a lot to prove this season,” he said.
Evans said he think the sky’s the limit for his team, and doesn’t blame his skiers for having high hopes.
“I know my guys want to be state champions,” he said. “But who doesn’t?”
Chugiak’s girls team, meanwhile, already knows what it’s like to reach the top of the podium after skiing to a state championship a season ago. But the team’s top two skiers — Kinsey Loan and Alyson McPhetres — have graduated, leaving the Mustangs in a bit of a rebuilding mode.
“It’s about developing this team for the girls,” Evans said.
Plenty of schools would love to rebuild with the kind of talent Chugiak still has in its ski room. Back for the Mustangs are sophomore Sarissa Lammers, who was eighth at state a season ago and the top freshman in Alaska. Joining Lammers at the front of the pack will be returning varsity skiers Sam Hartke, a junior who was 22nd at state last season, and sister Amy Hartke, a senior who was 32nd in Fairbanks.
All three went top-30 at the Lynx Loppet, with Lammers racing to a team-best fifth place finish.
Evans said the focus this season will be on developing his skiers and convincing more athletes to make skiing a year-round pursuit. With about 25 girls out for the team, he said he believes the squad can improve if he’s able to turn some of his part-time athletes into full-time competitors.
“Those middle level girls, those are the ones we want to get on the hook,” he said.
With one of the state’s best trail system in Chugiak’s back yard at Beach Lake and a supportive network of ski enthusiasts in the area, Evans said he believes that shouldn’t be hard to do.
“This is the best community to be a part of,” he said.
Contact Matt Tunseth at 694-2727 or firstname.lastname@example.org