Second place earns Mustang boys a trip to state

McPhetres finishes third; King is lone ER qualifier


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Chugiak’s Isaac Lammers (541) battles for position with South’s Mason Huffman, left, and Service’s Lucas Schlemme. Lammers finished sixth for the Mustangs, who were second overall behind Service.

STAR PHOTO BY MATT TUNSETH

Cross country coaches always want their runners peaking at the end of the season. Well, Chugiak High head coach Tina McPhetres should be thrilled.

Sophomore David McPhetres turned in his best performance of the season with a third-place finish at the Cook Inlet Conference Championships at Kincaid Park on Saturday, Sept. 24.

“I’m really excited he got third,” coach McPhetres said.

Chugiak’s boys finished second as a team, earning them a state berth Saturday, Oct. 1 at Bartlett.

“I’m so happy,” coach McPhetres said. “A lot of kids PRed today.”

The top four teams and top 15 individuals earn automatic state berths.

Coach McPhetres said her boys have been holding steady all year in second behind Service, who won the team title, and was glad to see the trend continue at the CIC meet.

David McPhetres, who finished in 16 minutes, 56 seconds, held third for most of the race. He edged Service’s Lucas Hepler by one second.

In the final stretch, David McPhetres glanced over his shoulder and saw Hepler gaining. But David McPhetres said he was able to hold Hepler off.

“At first, I was kind of worried because he was catching me,” David McPhetres said. “It was keep away at the end.”

David McPhetres’ best finish in a large race had been 10th at the Palmer Invitational. Cracking into the top three before state — and breaking the 17-minute mark — felt great, he said.

“It’s nice to get a top five finish, especially in regions,” David McPhetres said. “It gives me hope for getting top 10 (at state),” he said.

Max Romey of Service won with a time of 16:24. Fellow Cougar Gilly Szweda-Mitt was second, just four seconds ahead of David McPhetres.

Five Mustangs (David McPhetres, Isaac Lammers, Brady Sanders, Tim Sorensen and Alex Loan) finished in the top 25.

A slow start forced Lammers, who placed sixth, to play catch-up, he said.

“I ended up having to fight my way back up,” he said.

Lammers said teammate David McPhetres pushed him throughout the race.

“Go get David. Got get David,” Lammers said he told himself. “He was my little carrot.

“It’s good to have someone faster to push you on your team,” Lammers said.

With an 11th-place finish, Brandon King will be Eagle River’s lone male representative at state.

“I’m looking forward to it,” King said. “I didn’t have the best race at state last year. I’m looking forward to improving this year.”

A cold wind that ripped across Kincaid Park most of the day had a definite effect on runners.

A tailwind at the start blasted runners in the face at the finish, David McPhetres said. It takes mental toughness to push through, he said.

“Almost half of that last (kilometer) is headwind,” King said. “You’re sprinting, but you feel like you’re slowing down.”

But running in the elements is what cross country is all about, King said.

“It’s fun. It makes you dig,” he said.

 

Contact Mike Nesper at 830-6632 or mike.nesper@alaskastar.com

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