Friendly rivalries help fuel cross country success

Chugiak, Eagle River runners pushing each other to faster times


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Runners hit the trail at the start of the girls varsity race at the Big 8 Preview meet at Kincaid Park on Sept. 2 in Anchorage. Eagle River’s Hannah Stevens (bib 988) finished seventh for the Eagle River girls, who finished third as a team.

STAR PHOTO BY MATT TUNSETH

Individual competition among local cross country runners seems to be working out well for their respective teams.

Chugiak’s Tim Sorensen and David McPhetres were a good example of this at the Big 8 Preview cross country running meet at Kincaid Park on Sept. 2. After a McPhetres pass with a couple hundred yards to go, Sorensen kicked it into another gear to hold off his classmate and Service’s Gareth Schultz for third place.

After crossing the finish line, the two Chugiak runners hugged and smiled. They had good reason to be happy. With three runners in the top 10 (Isaac Lammers was ninth), the Mustangs announced their intent to challenge for a Cook Inlet Conference title with a second-place finish behind Service.

“We’re thinking we can pull out a good performance at regions,” McPhetres said.

Five area boys runners cracked the top 10 spots in the race, which was contested over the same course as the conference race and included all eight CIC teams.

Eagle River’s Brandon King won a sprint against Lammers for eighth place. After crossing the finish line, Chugiak’s senior captain gave the Wolves junior his props.

“Nice kick,” Lammers said. “I thought I had you.”

Brady Sanders was 23rd for Chugiak and Alex Loan was 26th. Taylor Andrews (47th) and Robert Colles (51st) rounded out the Mustangs lineup.

Chugiak head coach Tina McPhetres said she was proud of her team because they ran as a group for most of the race, effectively pulling each other to the front of the pack.

“You can’t go out in front and be a hot shot,” she said. “You have to work as a team.”

Sorensen said he likes it when he and his teammates are able to help each other to stronger performances.

“You push each other out there,” he said.

Coach McPhetres said she thinks the Mustangs (who were without standout Chris Kveseth due to shin splints) can be one of the state’s elite squads by season’s end.

“We want to do great at regions because regions is how you get to state,” she said. “But state is the ultimate goal.”

Ben Smith finished 29th for Eagle River, which finished seventh. Other finishers for the Wolves included Bryce Wolery (39th), Eric Guinn (41st), Evan Fisher (43rd), Keegan Crow (44th) and Liam Whiteman (52nd).

Competition also proved to be a powerful motivator in the girls race, where Eagle River junior Hannah Stevens got the better of freshman teammate Nikki Boggs for the up-and-coming Eagle River girls.

“I wanted to beat Nikki because she beat me in the last race,” Stevens said.

Stevens finished seventh and Boggs was 11th for the Wolves, who finished an impressive third overall. Sierra Richardson finished 14th for Eagle River, Shayna Wolery was 22nd, Chris Bottini finished 27th, Cheyenne Richardson was 39th and Hailey Sandefur finished 40th. The team’s top runner this season, senior Evy Hail, sat the race out.

Hali Young (31st) led the way for the seventh-place Chugiak girls, who have been battling injury and illness. Naella Lundell (41st), Shannon Casey (43rd), Terra Holayter (44th) and Kayla Mays (45th) rounded things out for Chugiak.

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