Chugiak ski program under new leadership
Nordic skiers started the season off with a sprint skate race on an icy course at the Service Snowball on Saturday, Dec. 7.
The 53 Mustangs are split just about evenly between boys and girls, said first-year head coach Cody Priest.
“It’s a good mix of kids,” he said. “Not really any gaps.”
A 2006 Palmer High graduate, Priest takes over for Chris Morhain. He’s the third head coach in as many years at Chugiak.
Seniors David McPhetres and Sarissa Lammers are key returners for the Mustangs, Priest said. McPhetres and Lammers finished sixth and seventh, respectively, at state last season.
Lammers placed second on Saturday three and a half seconds behind Service’s Taryn Hunt-Smith (6 minutes, 53.6 seconds).
Lammers was one of three Chugiak girls to crack the top 30. The others included Kate Arthen in 28th and Hannah Booher in 29th. Summer Frazier led Eagle River with a 35th-place finish.
Chugiak sophomore Roan Hall led all local boys with a 14th-place finish Saturday. Tim Sorensen was 26th for the Mustangs, and Jacob Walsh (28th) led Eagle River. Service’s Jake Bassett won the boys race in 5:58.8.
About one-third of Chugiak’s team is made up of new skiers, Priest said. Improving as a team is one of his main focal points early in the season.
Priest said he also wants to grow the program.
“Get as many kids out,” he said. “Spread the love of skiing.”
Thanks to an influx of new blood, Eagle River’s program nearly doubled from last year, said third-year head coach Liz Turner.
“We have a lot of new skiers,” she said of the 40 kids on the roster.
Turner attributed some of the gains to moving practice right after school instead of later in the day.
Most of the newcomers are sophomores and juniors, Turner said, all with great attitudes.
“They’re all really enthusiastic and hard working,” she said.
The team is evenly split between boys and girls, Turner said, but most of the girls are beginners. Early on, Turner is working with the team to perfect technique.
“We’re focusing on improving as a whole as a team,” she said.
Most of Wolves’ returners are on the boys’ side, Turner said. They’ve been training in the offseason, and she’s eager to see how they stack up against the rest of the Cook Inlet Conference.
“I’m excited to see … how far they can get as a whole team,” Turner said.
Contact Mike Nesper at 694-2727 or [email protected].