Runners eye finish line
Chugiak’s Taylor Schafran races Eagle River’s Jessa Montoya to the finish line during the girls open race. Chugiak’s David McPhetres won the boys varsity race to lead all local finishers at the four-team event.
Getting to the state meet out of a loaded Cook Inlet Conference won’t be easy — but then, nothing worth doing is.
“There are some really strong teams in the region,” said Eagle River coach Jacob Bera this week as his teams prepared for Saturday’s Region IV Championships, which begin at 11 a.m. at Kincaid Park. The top four teams in the region advance to state, as do the 15 fastest individuals.
Last year, the Eagle River girls reached state for the first time, and Bera thinks the squad has a good shot again this year.
“I definitely think that number four spot is up for grabs,” he said.
Sierra Richardson led Eagle River in second place at Bartlett, while Nikki Boggs was ninth. Top Wolves runner Hannah Stevens sat the race out as a precaution on the wet, slippery Bartlett course.
Sara Hartke was the top Chugiak finisher on the girls side in fourth, while her Mustangs teammate Hannah Booher was seventh. Chugiak coach Tina McPhetres said her girls team should challenge for a spot at state.
“They definitely have a chance,” she said.
Senior Sam Hartke pulled out of the race with nagging shin issues, while Sarissa Lammers was sick. Coach McPhetres said her team’s health will be key to a strong region showing.
One runner who looks like a lock to make state either way is Chugiak junior David McPhetres, who won the boys 5K race at Bartlett by 10 seconds over West’s Drini Redzepi.
McPhetres finished third in the Region’s Cook Inlet Cup competition, which ranks runners based on their regular season performances.
Tim Sorensen was fifth for the Mustangs, who got four boys in the top 10 at Bartlett. Freshmen Ty Jordan (8th) and Roan Hall (9th) each broke the 18-minute mark.
“They’re right where they should be,” McPhetres said of her freshmen.
The course followed the same route the state races will follow at the end of this month. Ben Smith was Eagle River’s top male runner in 12th place, clocking a time of 17:54. Jacob Walsh was 13th with a personal best time of 17:55.
“That kid really stepped it up,” Bera said.
Although Eagle River has limited numbers, Bera said he thinks his boys have a legitimate state shot.
“They’ve really been coming together,” he said.