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York, Tobin reign as Skimeisters on day when ski trails yield many tales

  • Author: Beth Bragg
  • Updated: September 28, 2016
  • Published February 26, 2016

As the state high school cross-country ski championships hit the halfway point Friday at Kincaid Park, the tales from the trails did not disappoint.

A maestro-loving Skimeister. A Malemute who is also a musher. Comeback kids held together by pins and plates.

The news of the day was straight-forward:

West High skiers Magdalen York and Luke Jager claimed state titles in the classic-technique races, and York and Service's Canyon Tobin captured the coveted Skimeister crowns by posting the best times over two days of individual racing.

In the team competition, the South boys and West girls landed four skiers apiece in the top 10 to build significant leads going into Saturday's relay races.

Led by Friday's 1-2 finish from York and Alejandra Legate and a 9-10 finish from Aubrey Leclair and Fiona Fick, the West girls own a four-minute lead over Chugiak.

With just 12 kilometers of racing remaining, that's a huge advantage for the Eagles – a lead so big it could sap the high-stakes drama often associated with the relay races, which occasionally decide the team championship.

Which brings us to our maestro-loving Skimeister, who is apt to provide plenty of drama with her race-before-the-race.

York, who waltzed to Skimeister honors by winning both individual races, will ski the final leg for West's 4x3-kilometer girls relay team – an assignment she hopes makes it possible for her to race at all.

At 10:15 a.m. Saturday, 45 minutes before the relay race begins, York will be dressed in concert black and playing violin at a high school orchestra competition at UAA. She's part of a quartet that will perform a number by Beethoven.

"It's three pages long and my teacher says it takes 10 minutes at the most," York said. "We'll be done by 10:25 so I can get here by 11 at the latest.

"I can change in the car."

While York is optimistic she'll have time to segue from classical music to freestyle skiing Saturday, Lathrop skier Chandler Wappet's state championships ended Friday.

While his Malemutes teammates are racing the relay Saturday, Wappet will be driving a team of 10 dogs in the 150-mile Junior Iditarod. The sled dog race begins at 10 a.m. at Knik Lake.

Wappet, 15, finished 73rd in a field of 93 boys Friday while his family's 11 huskies chilled in a truck in the Kincaid parking lot.

Wappet is a Junior Iditarod rookie whose skiing background should make it easier for him to help out his dogs by poling and kicking alongside his sled.

"I've got a ski pole ready for him," said his dad, Andy Wappet. "He'll be ready to kick."

Setting the pace in the boys 10-K race Friday was Jager, who beat Tobin by a little more than 10 seconds. That meant both had something to celebrate – Jager won the race, and Tobin won the Skimeister award.

"I set myself up with a good cushion yesterday," said Tobin, who won Thursday's freestyle race by 50 seconds. "I still tried to go hard today."

Jager and 10th-place Ryan Bickford gave the Eagles two skiers in the top 10, but that wasn't enough for West to hold onto its 21-second lead over South in the team standings.

Four top-10 skiers helped South erase West's first-day lead. Fifth-place Will Balcao, sixth-place Matthew Hoefler, eighth-place Andrew Hull and ninth-place Hamish Wolfe put the Wolverines nearly 45 seconds ahead of West going into the relay.

They seized the lead despite the absence of their top skier ---- Hunter Wonders, who along with three other Anchorage skiers are representing the United States at a race series in Europe this week.

"They're healthy and they're skiing good," co-coach Liz Brewster said. "With Hunter gone, they've all picked it up.

"They were 21 seconds down, and last night we said, '21 seconds – guys, it's not that much.' It's gonna come down to the relay.''

Finishing third and fourth in the boys 10-K were Colony's Tracen Knopp and Dawson Knopp, who are fraternal twins.

Tracen was born two minutes before Dawson and on Friday he was eight seconds faster than Dawson.

"We go back and forth," Tracen said. "We're usually pretty close."

The Knopps are juniors, and so far Tracen has had an eventful high school career.

In the summer before his freshman year, he broke his ankle while roller skiing. In November of his sophomore year, he suffered a radial fracture on his elbow – a particularly rough injury for a skier.

Tracen doesn't have full range of motion in his right wrist, and he has to keep his right elbow tucked at his side while racing because he can't extend it.

Neither of those things kept him off the podium Friday.

"You gotta make it work," he said. "I'm having surgery in April."

Perhaps no one worked harder to race this weekend than East High's Mary Robicheaux.

Robicheaux is a junior making her state-championship debut nearly four years after she suffered serious and multiple injuries when a car ran through a stop sign and hit her while she was riding her bike.

"I started skiing a year after the accident," she said. "I just had to wait for my legs to be ready."

Robicheaux broke the femur in her left leg and the tibia and fibula in her right leg. She suffered a skull fracture and a spinal injury. She had three surgeries in the first week, spent four days on a respirator and five days on a feeding tube.

Today she is held together with plates in her spine and neck and pins in both legs.

Robicheaux said she has yet to regain the form that made her one of the city's top age-group skiers before her injuries. She finished 67th in a field of 92 racers Friday and said she was happy with her performance.

When she first returned to Anchorage after two months of treatment in the Lower 48, she wasn't sure if she would return to the sport.

"It was a daunting thought," she said. "But I had to. It's just what I do.''

While Robicheaux was hospitalized in Denver, Jager organized a 5-kilometer run that raised more than $15,000 for her medical expenses.

Robicheaux said she doesn't remember the details of her accident, but she remembers with clarity her astonishment that so many people rallied in support of her.

"It was very touching," Robicheaux said. "Oh my god. I remember thinking, 'It's only me.' ''

The day of the fundraiser, five of Robicheaux's teammates bared their stomachs, took out Sharpies to spell out M-A-R-Y-! and posed for a photo to send to their friend.

Sporting the letter "A" that day was York. Both girls were winners Friday.

ASAA/First National Bank

State cross-country ski championships

Kincaid Park

Boys team scores

1) South 1:54:21.6, 2) West 1:55:06.8, 3) Service 1:57:45.1, 4) West Valley 1:58:37.8, 5) Dimond 2:01:02.5, 6) Colony 2:01:12.7, 7) Soldotna 2:02:49.4, 8) Grace 2:05:04.4, 9) Chugiak 2:05:26.0, 10) Eagle River 2:11:16.7, 11) Kenai 2:11:21.9, 12) Lathrop 2:15:39.9, 13) Palmer 2:20:10.4, 14) Homer 2:20:13.5, 15) Bartlett 2:45:59.1.

Boys 10-kilometer classic

1) Luke Jager, West, 27:36.8; 2) Canyon Tobin, Service, 27:47.4; 3) Tracen Knopp, Colony, 28:01.8; 4) Dawson Knopp, Colony, 28:08.4; 5) Will Balcao, South, 28:16.7; 6) Matthew Hoefler, South, 28:25.9; 7) Zach Bassett, Service, 28:41.2; 8) Andrew Hull, South, 28:44.4; 9) Hamish Wolfe, South, 28:54.6; 10) Ryan Bickford, West, 28:56.4; 11) Ti Donaldson, West Valley, 29:00.0; 12) Dax Cvancara, Dimond, 29:05.0; 13) Trent Fritzel, Grace, 29:07.3; 14) Sam York, West, 29:13.9; 15) Jack Consenstein, West, 29:19.7; 16) John-Mark Pothast, Soldotna, 29:37.2; 17) Sam Hiltenbrand, West Valley, 29:38.9; 18) Karl Danielson, Kenai, 29:44.5; 19) Roan Hall, Chugiak, 29:51.8; 20) Ben Koenig, West Valley, 29:56.8; 21) Colin Lease, West Valley, 30:02.1; 22) Josiah Alverts, Palmer, 30:03.2; 23) Eli Hermenson, Service, 30:04.0; 24) Levi Michael, Soldotna, 30:12.8; 25) Rhys Swingle-Yates, West Valley, 30:24.4; 26) Logan Mowry, Lathrop, 30:24.6; 27) Finn Swingle-Yates, West Valley, 30:28.0; 28) Brian Wing, Chugiak, 30:28.5; 29) Grant Klug, South, 30:33.3; 30) Jack Wright, Dimond, 30:33.8; 31) Micah Barber, Dimond, 30:39.5; 32) Luke Fritzel, Grace, 30:41.4; 33) George Cvancara, Dimond, 30:44.2; 34) Garrett Alderman, West, 30:46.4; 35) Tristan Wiese, West, 30:49.4; 36) Koby Vinson, Soldotna, 31:03.7; 37) Adam Blackley, Eagle River, 31:06.0; 38) Ryan Brubaker, Service, 31:12.5; 39) Kaden Denton, Dimond, 31:15.7; 40) Dakota Peterson-Thompson, Colony, 31:25.0; 41) Jeremy Kupferschmid, Soldotna, 31:55.7; 42) Avi Johnson, Grace, 31:57.1; 43) Quinton Perham, Chugiak, 32:05.2; 44) Chip Schoff, South, 32:20.1; 45) James Butler, Kenai, 32:24.7; 46) Torsten Renner, Eagle River, 32:28.2; 47) Jacob Walsh, Eagle River, 32:52.9; 48) Addison Downing, Soldotna, 32:59.3; 49) Miles Dennis, Chugiak, 33:00.5; 50) Justin Carpenter, Service, 33:02.2; 51) Jack Ginter, Chugiak, 33:05.2; 52) John Cosgrave, Grace, 33:18.6; 53) Gabe Rueter, Hutchison, 33:24.0; 54) Duncan Wright, Service, 33:27.9; 55) Tim Farring, Colony, 33:37.5; 56) Eli Ickes, Wasilla, 33:39.9; 57) Caleb Rauch, Homer, 33:46.2; 58) Jacob Davis, Homer, 33:54.0; 59) Scott Morton, Dimond, 34:19.8; 60) Liam Floyd, Kenai, 34:28.7; 61) Ty Mumford, Grace, 34:34.0; 62) Josh Roach, Grace, 34:38.1; 63) Patrick Michels, Kenai, 34:44.0; 64) Andrew Hanneman, Lathrop, 34:45.9; 65) Bradan Tobin, Eagle River, 34:49.6; 66) Nick Carl, Eagle River, 34:50.9; 66) Jonathan Burrell, Lathrop, 34:50.9; 68) Jeremy Houston, Palmer, 35:07.7; 68) Eric Kempf, Kenai, 35:07.7; 70) Josh Shuler, Soldotna, 35:16.3; 71) Brad Grover, Colony, 35:19.0; 72) Chris Fueg, Chugiak, 35:20.7; 73) Chandler Wappet, Lathrop, 35:38.5; 74) Ben Swalling, Palmer, 35:56.7; 75) Hoxie Parks, Homer, 36:01.3; 76) Tadhg Scholz, Homer, 36:32.0; 77) Nathan Kristich, Colony, 36:49.5; 78) Logan Smith, Seward, 37:13.1; 79) Trevor Debnam, Kenai, 37:47.0; 80) Quinn Alward, Homer, 37:47.7; 81) Joshua Wisner, Homer, 38:27.2; 82) Declan Reid, Bartlett, 38:55.9; 83) Manveer Singh, Palmer, 39:02.8; 84) Gabe Atkinson, Eagle River, 39:03.3; 85) Nathan Sanches, Lathrop, 39:38.1; 86) Alex Estes, Seward, 40:14.7; 87) Jacob Obrigewitch, Bartlett, 41:37.0; 88) Robert Magrath, Bartlett, 42:07.1; 89) David Magrath, Bartlett, 43:19.1; 90) Stuart Relay, Valdez, 44:31.5; 91) Jedediah Christianson, Seward, 45:36.4; 92) Colton Prevost, Valdez, 47:01.7; 93) Mua Vang, Bartlett, 57:29.6.

Skimeister (top 5)

1) Canyon Tobin, Service, 46:42.7; 2) Luke Jager, West, 47:25.8; 3) Tracen Knopp, Colony, 48:15.3; 4) Will Balcao, South, 48:27.3; 5) Matthew Hoefler, South, 48:40.0.

Girls team scores

1) West 1:39:07.9, 2) Chugiak 1:43:02.0, 3) South 1:43:22.7, 4) West Valley 1:45:37.8, 5) Service 1:45:39.0, 6) Dimond 1:46:27.1, 7) Kenai 1:47:29.4, 8) Colony 1:51:26.7, 9) East 1:53:11.3, 10) Eagle River 1:53:15.0, 11) Palmer 1:53:46.2, 12) Lathrop 1:57:56.2, 13) Homer 1:59:08.0, 14) Soldotna 2:02:44.3, 15) Valdez 2:21:50.3.

Girls 7.5-kilometer classic

1) Magdalen York, West, 24:10.0; 2) Alejandra Legate, West, 24:31.4; 3) Heidi Booher, Chugiak, 24:40.3; 4) Jenna Difolco, West Valley, 24:43.8; 5) Maggie Meeds, South, 24:44.2; 6) Emma Tarbath, Service, 24:44.4; 7) Ruth Cvancara, Dimond, 24:57.3; 8) Naomi Kiekintveld, South, 25:08.2; 9) Aubrey LeClair, West, 25:09.6; 10) Fiona Fick, West, 25:16.9; 11) Ryan Terry, Service, 25:19.1; 12) Kinsey Denton, Dimond, 25:25.7; 13) Jordyn Block, Colony, 25:41.9; 14) Riana Boonstra, Kenai, 25:44.9; 15) Emma Nelson, Chugiak, 25:56.8; 16) Katja Grumman, West, 26:00.9; 17) Hannah Booher, Chugiak, 26:05.7; 18) Hannah Pothast, Soldotna, 26:09.0; 19) Annie Gonzales, East, 26:09.9; 20) Rya Berrigan, Palmer, 26:14.0; 21) Addison Gibson, Kenai, 26:17.3; 22) Amber Hajdukovich, West Valley, 26:17.9; 23) Emma Sees, Chugiak, 26:19.2; 24) Helen Wilson, Eagle River, 26:20.2; 25) Jenni Grunblatt, South, 26:25.7; 26) Elizabeth Mans, West, 26:27.7; 27) Liesel Von Imhof, Dimond, 26:47.4; 28) Clare Cook, Chugiak, 26:49.6; 29) Tjarn Bross, Lathrop, 27:04.3; 30) Kaylee Heck, South, 27:04.6; 31) Ruby Lindquist, Seward, 27:07.2; 32) Emma Jerome, West Valley, 27:13.7; 33) Caitlin Gohr, Service, 27:16.5; 34) Katie Cooper, Kenai, 27:21.2; 35) Zoe Ratzlaff, West Valley, 27:22.4; 36) Lisbeth Olsen, Colony, 27:33.7; 37) Sarah Freeman, East, 27:38.5; 38) Ruby Woodings, Palmer, 27:48.7; 39) Grace Gilliland, Chugiak, 27:52.3; 40) Sadie Oswald, South, 28:04.5; 41) Mikaela Salzetti, Kenai, 28:06.0; 42) Savannah Ulrich, South, 28:09.7; 43) Peyton Presler, West Valley, 28:12.4; 44) Summer Frazier, Eagle River, 28:13.4; 45) Cathelyne Powers, Colony, 28:15.1; 46) Nadia Dworian, Service, 28:19.0; 47) Rylee Norris, Valdez, 28:21.9; 48) Annie Connelly, Eagle River, 28:54.9; 49) Julia Ditto, Service, 28:57.2; 50) Pearl Wyatt, West Valley, 29:05.8; 51) Rachel Ellert, Homer, 29:06.4; 52) Kellie Arthur, Soldotna, 29:08.4; 53) Lupua Oba, Lathrop, 29:08.9; 54) Katie Davis, Homer, 29:13.4; 55) Ally Carney, Dimond, 29:16.7; 56) Eva Bingham, Palmer, 29:21.2; 57) Katia Holmes, Homer, 29:21.4; 58) Abigail Beveridge, Grace, 29:22.7; 59) Rachael Schick, East, 29:23.0; 60) Grace Burrell, Lathrop, 29:34.5; 61) Ithaca Bergholtz, Kenai, 29:36.0; 62) Jasmine Langmann, Dimond, 29:44.3; 63) Myah Smith, Eagle River, 29:46.5; 64) Cora Berbig, Dimond, 29:52.6; 65) Alyson Kopsack, Colony, 29:56.0; 66) Charlee Demintieff, Grace, 29:57.8; 67) Mary Robicheaux, East, 29:59.9; 68) Amanda Moore, Service, 30:13.1; 69) Morgen Lundin, Palmer, 30:22.3; 70) Ana Taylor, Palmer, 30:25.1; 71) Ariana O `Harra, East, 30:27.7; 72) Sadie Lindquist, Seward, 30:47.9; 73) Allison Gonzales, East, 30:50.3; 74) Mariah Vantrease, Homer, 31:26.8; 75) Izabella Block, Colony, 31:40.7; 76) Mia Alexson, Homer, 31:52.4; 77) Clare Hanneman, Lathrop, 32:08.5; 78) Abigail Arens, Lathrop, 32:50.7; 79) Brianna Bennett, Soldotna, 33:03.9; 80) Sidney Feige, Palmer, 33:04.8; 81) Sarah Tucker, Bartlett, 33:20.9; 82) Taylor Huston, Valdez, 33:55.9; 83) Tamara Brabson, Eagle River, 33:57.5; 84) Mieka Chythlook, Soldotna, 34:23.0; 85) Lindsay Floyd, Kenai, 34:29.4; 86) Selby Hill, Soldotna, 34:32.5; 87) Kealey Hendrick, Soldotna, 36:18.2; 88) Josie McNelly, Valdez, 38:06.9; 89) Jolie Magelky, Lathrop, 38:14.6; 90) Lacie Bleeker, Eagle River, 39:16.0; 91) Angela Alfaro, Valdez, 41:25.6; 92) Cheyenne Bolan, Bartlett, 47:12.9.

Skimeister (top 5)

1) Magdalen York, West, 39:24.8; 2) Emma Tarbath, Service, 40:13.2; 3) Naomi Kiekintveld, South, 40:41.1; 4) Alejandra Legate, West, 40:52.2; 5) Jenna Difolco, West Valley, 40:58.8

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