For the 13th straight year, the Kodiak High School boys cross country team are Region III champions.
The last time Kodiak hosted regions was in 2005, when on a sunny fall day, both the girls and guys claimed team victories in the 4A cross country race. This time around, weather conditions were far from perfect, but the boys squad managed to maintain their spot at the top of the podium, and the girls will be sending two runners to state – twice the number that qualified last year. As a whole the girls team took 4th during Saturday’s competition.
It was no surprise that Kodiak’s Levi Thomet took the top spot in the boys 4A race. With a time of time of 16:03, he outran the field of runners by more than 45 seconds and claimed his third consecutive region title. Kenai brothers Jonah and Jordan Theisen captured second and third, respectively.
The top five was rounded out by Kodiak’s Keith Osowski at 17:37 and Michael Parnell two seconds after him. Three other Kodiak runners made the top 15 – each earning individual bids for the state competition. Jack
Hannah came in at 17:49 to take 10th, Levi Fried crossed the finish at 17:56 for 12th and Richie McKinney came in a close 13th finishing just one second after Fried. Kodiak’s seventh runner, Anthony Rubina, took 25th with a time of 18:03.
With all seven runners in the top 25, Kodiak sealed the deal for another region victory with 32 points, well ahead of Wasilla’s 72 and Kenai’s 78. Following the race, Thomet said he was blown away by how well everyone did, especially considering the inclement weather.
“I’m so happy for our team right now. I wouldn’t really care what place I got because they just did awesome.”
As for his own performance, Thomet said he didn’t let the wind and rain get to him.
“Yeah, at the start it was kind of cold but once you started you didn’t really notice anything. I mean, I wasn’t paying attention to much except for what was in front of me.”
In the girls 4A competition, Kenai’s Allie Ostrander dominated the field by more than two minutes, coming in at 17:48. She was followed by Soldotna’s Olivia Hutchings at 19:52 and Colony’s Jill Bowker at 20:04.
This was Ostrander’s fourth straight region title, and she is only the second female runner in Alaska’s history to do so – the first being Kodiak legend Kristi Klinnert.
Despite winning by such a large margin, Ostrander said it was actually a pretty difficult course.
“It was a really challenging race – it was a lot hillier than I expected and the grass was a little soggy but it was really fun.”
The top Kodiak girl to finish was Zoe Bigley, who ran a 20:56 and took 11th place. While that time wasn’t a personal record for Bigley, she said she’s excited to participate in the state meet next weekend at Bartlett High School.
“It was definitely not as good as I wanted it to be but it was good – I had a fun time.”
Bigley was the lone female runner from Kodiak to attend last year’s state meet, but this year she will be joined by team member Melissa De Guzman. With a time of 21:22, De Guzman secured 12th place and earned herself an individual bid for state.
The top three teams in the region qualify for the state meet and Kodiak’s girls missed the cut with a fourth place finish. Colony and Soldotna’s tied with 50 points each and Kenai took 3rd with 57. Kodiak had 99 points.
Girls Coach Jen Foster said the girls are a young team, with majority of
its runners set to return next year, so she thinks Saturday was a good motivator for the team to make the state cut next year.
Head Coach Marcus Dunbar said he was overall pleased with Saturday’s competition and felt like everyone put out a great effort.
“Our boys ran great to advance and get the win. Our girls got two girls to advance to state which was great – we’re glad to have two of them going. And the teams that came were very competitive and seeing Allie set that course record for the girls was amazing. And then the highly competitiveness of that girls race – 50 to 50 to 57.”
Kodiak also hosted the 1,2,3A varsity cross country region meets. For the boys, Seward took the team title with 36 points, followed by Grace Christian at 58 and Homer at 68.
On the girls side, Homer beat out Seward 32 to 46 and Grace Christian followed with 65 points.
The Port Lions Cross Country team will also be sending two runners to the state cross country meet. The top ten from that region, which met in Talkeetna over the weekend, earn an individual bid to state and Port Lions runner Chrandra Christiansen took 10th in the girls race reserve her spot. Cody Robustellini will represent the Port Lions boys after finishing his race in 10th, also.