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West Valley, Service win state ski cross-country ski titles

Beth Bragg
Service's Forest Tarbath prepares for another climb out of the Kincaid stadium Saturday.
Anne Raup / Anchorage Daily News
Service's Forest Tarbath prepares for another climb out of the Kincaid stadium Saturday.
Anne Raup / Anchorage Daily News
Chugiak's James Colles takes corner in the Kincaid stadium Saturday during the mixed relays.
Anne Raup / Anchorage Daily News
West's Jojo Fleischman skates through the Kincaid stadium Saturday during the mixed relay.
Anne Raup / Anchorage Daily News
North Pole's Kelly Schmitz take a curve in the Kincaid stadium Saturday during the mixed relay.
Anne Raup / Anchorage Daily News
Chugiak's Kate Arthen (right) tags Amy Hartke during Saturday's mixed relay race.
Anne Raup / Anchorage Daily News
State championship ski relay races were held at Kincaid Park, Saturday February 25, 2012.
Anne Raup / Anchorage Daily News
West Valley's Elizabeth Whisenhant takes in a curve in the Kincaid stadium during the first leg of the mixed relay Saturday.
Anne Raup / Anchorage Daily News
Jacob Wahry from East takes in a hill during the second leg of the mixed relay race Saturday.
Anne Raup / Anchorage Daily News
Dimond's Savanna Desatoff catches her breath after her leg in the mixed relay Saturday.
Anne Raup / Anchorage Daily News
South's Eric Backstrum leads East's John Farr through a curve in the stadium at Kincaid during the first leg of the mixed relay.
Anne Raup / Anchorage Daily News
The boys start the mixed relay at Kincaid Park Saturday, February 25, 2012. Jake Bassett for Service (middle) gets off to an early lead, West Valley's Riley Troyer (#22) and Chugiak's James Colles (#21) are right behind.
Anne Raup / Anchorage Daily News
Service's Forest Tarbath prepares for another climb out of the Kincaid stadium Saturday.
Anne Raup / Anchorage Daily News
Service's Forest Tarbath prepares for another climb out of the Kincaid stadium Saturday.
Anne Raup / Anchorage Daily News
Chugiak's James Colles takes corner in the Kincaid stadium Saturday during the mixed relays.
Anne Raup / Anchorage Daily News
West's Jojo Fleischman skates through the Kincaid stadium Saturday during the mixed relay.
Anne Raup / Anchorage Daily News
North Pole's Kelly Schmitz take a curve in the Kincaid stadium Saturday during the mixed relay.
Anne Raup / Anchorage Daily News
Chugiak's Kate Arthen (right) tags Amy Hartke during Saturday's mixed relay race.
Anne Raup / Anchorage Daily News
State championship ski relay races were held at Kincaid Park, Saturday February 25, 2012.
Anne Raup / Anchorage Daily News
West Valley's Elizabeth Whisenhant takes in a curve in the Kincaid stadium during the first leg of the mixed relay Saturday.
Anne Raup / Anchorage Daily News
Jacob Wahry from East takes in a hill during the second leg of the mixed relay race Saturday.
Anne Raup / Anchorage Daily News
Dimond's Savanna Desatoff catches her breath after her leg in the mixed relay Saturday.
Anne Raup / Anchorage Daily News
South's Eric Backstrum leads East's John Farr through a curve in the stadium at Kincaid during the first leg of the mixed relay.
Anne Raup / Anchorage Daily News
The boys start the mixed relay at Kincaid Park Saturday, February 25, 2012. Jake Bassett for Service (middle) gets off to an early lead, West Valley's Riley Troyer (#22) and Chugiak's James Colles (#21) are right behind.
Anne Raup / Anchorage Daily News

The high school cross-country ski season wrapped up Saturday at Kincaid Park with a rock star leading the West Valley girls to victory, an accidental skier helping the Service boys to another state title and a Skimeister from Chugiak showing why he's a master by turning in a blazing relay leg.

The West Valley girls and Service boys punctuated their state championships by cruising to wins in the mixed-technique relays Saturday, with both teams winning fairly handily. Combined with results from individual races on Thursday and Friday, the relay wins gave the Wolfpack and the Cougars comfortable margins in the team standings.

Led by Skimeister Hannah Boyer, who won Thursday's freestyle race and was second in Friday's classic race, the West Valley girls claimed their first state championship since 2005, a proper sendoff for the all-senior team.

"We've all been together for awhile," said Helen Sudkamp-Walker, who skied on the relay team with Boyer, Elizabeth Whisenhant and Eliza Rorabaugh, all of whom train together with the FXC ski club. "We're strong as a team."

Part of that is due to Boyer, who inspires her teammates with both her ability and her work ethic, said second-year coach Davya Flaharty, a 2003 West Valley graduate.

"They think she's a rock star," Flaharty said. "Her results and her experience, I think every one of them draws from that. She works really hard."

The Service boys won their second straight state title in convincing fashion, which is also how they won the relay. The Cougars entered Saturday with an almost insurmountable lead in the team standings and didn't necessarily need to win the relay to win the championship, yet Jake Bassett, Matthew Muffoletto, Forrest Tarbath and John Glen were nonetheless under orders from coach Jan Buron to deliver a victory.

"I was saying to them, 'I don't want to win state and lose the relay,' '' Buron said.

The Cougars skied away from the field, thanks in part to freshman Matthew Muffoletto, who on the second leg skied away from a tight pack to put a gap between the Cougars and everyone else.

Muffoletto came to ski racing somewhat accidentally -- he was a North Stars hockey player until he fractured his back while playing last year. Muffoletto's bad break became the Service ski team's good break, because Muffoletto decided to switch from skates to skis.

"I was almost just as good at skiing, so I decided to take the safer path," he said.

And he's glad he did.

"I like it a lot better. The people are really nice and it's such an elegant sport. It's the greatest sport on earth," Muffoletto said.

Muffoletto skied the same leg of the relay as Chugiak's Isaac Lammers, who turned in what might have been the most impressive effort of the day.

Lammers, the boys Skimeister by virtue of a blazing victory in Friday's classic race, was in 13th place and a minute behind the lead pack when he started the second leg.

"I couldn't see the leaders," he said.

After five kilometers of classic skiing, Lammers had made up about 30 seconds and put the Mustangs in third place, a position they held through the final two freestyle legs. Lammers' time of 13 minutes, 2.6 seconds was the fastest of the leg by more than 25 seconds (Muffoletto had the second fastest, 13:29).

Other boys with the fastest times in their legs included South's Chris Backstrum (12:51.6 in the scramble leg), Tarbath (12:15.9 in the third leg) and East's Thomas O'Harra (12:02.4 in the anchor leg).

Service won the relay in 50:52.1, with West Valley second in 51:47.5 and Chugiak third in 51:51.5. In the team standings, Service prevailed with a three-day total of 4 hours, 12 minutes, 49.8 seconds. Chugiak was about four minutes back in second place with West Valley about six minutes back in third.

For the girls, West Valley's three-day total time of 3:21:48.8 beat South by almost two minutes and Service by more than three minutes.

Those teams finished the relay in the same order -- West Valley won in 37:35.4, with South second in 38:12.3 and Service third in 38:28.8.

The Wolfpack posted two of the fastest relay legs -- Rorabaugh in the second (9:52.5) and Sudkamp-Walker in the third (9:08.5) --while West's Celia Haering clocked the fastest scramble leg (9:30.3) and South's Marion Woods had the fastest anchor leg (8:35.2).

Woods beat Boyer's anchor effort by 3.5 seconds, continuing the week-long duel between the two friends. They battled for Skimeister honors for the third straight year, with Boyer prevailing for the third time by all of 2.7 seconds. Skimeister honors, which were awarded on Friday, are determined by the cumulative times from the two individual races.

Lammers, a senior, became the first Chugiak boy to claim a Skimeister title since Justin Singleton in 2002 and 2003. He has been the top high school skier most of this season and is also one of the best skiers in the country in his age group -- last season, he collected two silver medals and a bronze at the Junior National Championships.

And to think Lammers is a skier only because his knees won't let him do anything else.

When he was 11 years old, Lammers needed knee surgery to repair a torn meniscus. Eleven months later, he had the same procedure on the other knee.

No one knows what happened to the knees-- there was no traumatic event involved, Lammers said -- but like the hockey misfortune for Muffoletto, the bad knees led to good things for Lammers.

"That's why skiing became my thing," he said. "Baseball was out, soccer was out, basketball was out. Skiing became what I could do, skiing and running."

"... There's always different roads. I'm happy to be a great skier."

Reach Beth Bragg at bbragg@adn.com or 257-4335.

ASAA/First National Bank

State cross country skiing championships

Kincaid Park

Girls

Team results

1) West Valley, 3:21:48.8; 2) South, 3:23:30.3; 3) Service, 3:25:17.3; 4) West, 3:32:15.5; 5) Dimond, 3:35:51.2; 6) Chugiak, 3:36:01.4; 7) Lathrop, 3:36:10.3; 8) East, 3:37:57.1; 9) Grace, 3:44:37.8; 10) Homer, 3:48:47.8; 11) Eagle River, 3:54:01.6; 12) Kenai, 3:57:28.4; 13) Palmer, 4:03:24.6; 14) Colony, 4:14:53.2; 15) Valdez, 4:17:12.1; 16) Skyview, 4:23:59.0; 17) Soldotna, 4:34:58.9; 18) Seward, 4:37:46.2.

4x3-kilometer relay

(2 classic legs followed by 2 freestyle legs)

1) West Valley 37:35.2 (Whisenhant 9:55.6; Rorabaugh 9:52.5; Sudkamp-Walker 9:08.5; Boyer 8:38.6); 2) South 38:12.2 (Hoefler 9:51.1; Mahlen 10:13.0; Flynn 9:33.0; Woods 8:35.1; 3) Service 38:28.7 (McMullen 10:02.3; Price 10:03.3; Hopkins 9:17.8; Hunt-Smith 9:05.3); 4) East 39:58.7 (Flynn, 9:41.0; Jager 10:46.3; Graham 9:46.7; Farr 9:44.7); 5) West 40:17.3 (Haering 9:30.2; Baker 11:12.0; Fleischman 10:36.5; Blanchet 8:58.6); 6) Lathrop 40:31.7 (Hajdukovich 10:27.0; Ferrree 10:40.0; Edic 9:18.8; Hamlin 10:05.9); 7) Chugiak 40:34.7 (Hartke 10:15.1; Lammers 10:03.4; Arthen 10:31.5; Hartke 9:44.7); 8) Dimond 41:13.3 (Petersen 11:31.5; Falconer 10:27.1; Desatoff 10:07.4; Freistone 9:07.3); 9) Homer 42:31.9,(Schmidt 10:41.5; Soistman 11:29.9; Gerard 10:06.9; Morelli 10:13.6); 10) Grace 42:40.7 (Trujillo 10:27.6; Rowe 11:42.4; Trujillo 10:18.4; Arnold 10:12.3); 11) Eagle River 43:40.6 (Klecka 10:55.7; Frankl 12:18.4; Wheeler 10:32.5; Stevens 9:54.0); 12) Kenai 44:05.4 (Ostrander 10:37.0; Pfeifer 11:30.6; Nyquist 10:40.8; Bergholtz, 11:17.0); 13) Palmer 45:28.8 (Smith 11:06.5; Lynn 12:02.9; Jorgensen 10:55.9; Johnson 11:23.5); 14) Colony 47:43.8 (Haan 12:08.6; Thompson 12:31.0; Meier 11:28.2; Jenkins 11:36.0); 15) Valdez 47:58.0 (Norris 10:30.8; Allen 12:33.5; Keeney 14:05.9; Merioles 10:47.8); 16) Skyview 50:41.6 (Neill 13:42.5; Hollers 13:58.4; Winter 11:50.9; Morton 11:09.8); 17) Soldotna 51:29.5 (Fox 10:52.3; Harbison 14:35.8; Nelson 13:07.5; Valenzuela 12:53.9); 18) Seward 52:10.5 (Herbert 13:25.6; Kromrey 12:36.4; Estes 12:57.0; Dyer 13:11.5).

Boys

Team scores

1) Service, 4:12:49.8; 2) Chugiak, 4:16:44.7; 3) West Valley, 4:18:46.8; 4) South, 4:21:26.3; 5) East, 4:21:28.2; 6) West, 4:24:08.9; 7) Soldotna, 4:29:49.5; 8) Colony, 4:29:53.2; 9) Lathrop, 4:30:17.0; 10) Homer, 4:35:40.9; 11) Palmer, 4:36:36.3; 12) Grace, 4:41:21.2; 13) Dimond, 4:41:29.7; 14) Eagle River, 4:42:41.3; 15) Kenai, 4:42:58.0; 16) Valdez, 5:01:56.3; 17) Skyview, 5:02:06.3; 18) Wasilla, 5:14:51.5; 19) Seward, 5:30:53.9.

4x5-kilometer mixed relay

(2 classic legs followed by 2 freestyle legs)

1) Service 50:51.9 (Bassett 12:54.3; Muffoletto 13:28.9; Tarbath 12:15.8; Glen 12:12.9); 2) West Valley 51:47.3 (Troyer 13:15.9; Koenig 13:45.6; Donaldson 12:24.9; Toelle 12:20.9); 3) Chugiak 51:51.4 (Colles 13:58.2; Lammers 13:02.6; McPhetres 12:36.0; Loan 12:14.6); 4) East 51:52.7 (Farr 12:53.4; Wahry 14:02.2; Frank 12:54.8; O'Harra 12:02.3); 5) South 52:46.3 (Backstrum 12:51.5; Walters 14:23.9; Takagi 13:02.5; Ramey 12:28.4); 6) West 53:47.2 (Shayer 13:40.9; Loeffler 14:51.8; Volz 12:39.3; Watts 12:35.2); 7) Soldotna 54:20.2 (Michael 12:53.9; Diehl 15:40.9; Jensen 12:53.9; Wikstrom 12:51.5); 8) Colony 54:40.0 (Meyerhofer 13:20.3; Sinnett 14:38.4; Jashek 13:32.5; Schafer 13:08.8); 9) Palmer 54:53.3 (Knopp 12:59.4; Bean 14:50.8; Holladay 13:36.2; Strickland 13:26.9); 10) Lathrop 54:54.3 (King 14:16.3; Castellini 14:39.8; Bourque 13:23.5; Wilkinson 12:34.7); 11) Homer 55:23.3 (Lovett 13:50.9; Rowe 14:41.4; Sorenson 12:40.9; Wentz 14:10.1); 12) Kenai 55:38.0 (Cooper 14:10.2; Danielson 14:54.7; Bressler 13:42.8; Cooper 12:50.3); 13) Eagle River 55:44.2 (Smith 13:42.9; Hall 15:30.8; Fisher 13:44.8; Timmons, Eagle River, 12:45.7); 14) Dimond 56:03.0 (Nage 13:51.3; Falconer 14:39.2; Denton 13:54.1; Brailey 13:38.4); 15) Grace 56:15.4 (McLaughlin 13:39.8; Klein 15:05.1; Eller 14:36.2; Serventi 12:54.3); 16) Valdez 1:00:42.1 (Wegner 15:46.1; Scribner 17:53.1; Adamson 13:45.5; Snelders 13:17.4) 17) Skyview 1:02:26.5 (Bishop 15:31.3; Cooper 15:49.4; Sibley 15:34.5; Sparks 15:31.3); 18) Wasilla 1:04:07.2 (Loveless 15:57.1; Oliver 18:14.7 Pulver 15:57.4; Mattson 13:58.0); 19) Seward 1:07:11.8 (Zweifel 16:33.7; Knotek 16:20.8; Marshall 17:17.0; Swanson 17:00.3).

Photos: State skiing mixed relays
By BETH BRAGG
Anchorage Daily News