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Posted: Saturday, September 29, 2012 9:19 pm | Updated: 8:30 pm, Mon Oct 1, 2012.

ANCHORAGE — The ground was soggy. The trail was muddy. The sun was shinning, but there was still a nip on the air.

There have been far better conditions to run in. But for a handful of Valley athletes, Saturday was a “perfect” day.

The Wasilla Warriors won their third straight 4A state team title and Colony senior Audrey Michaelson capped her stellar career with a runner-up finish in the 4A girls race during the ASAA/First National Bank State Cross-Country Running Championships at Bartlett High School in Anchorage.

Sophomore Peggy Mathis, junior Mariah Burroughs and senior Jenna Ford each posted top 20 finishes to help the Warriors become the first program since West Valley (2004-06) to win three straight 4A girls team titles.

“We worked as a team, we worked hard all season,” Ford said. “This is perfect.”

Mathis led the Warriors with a seventh-place finish and time of 19 minutes, 31 seconds. Burroughs was 11th at 19:50, and Ford finished 20th at 20:14. The trio helped Wasilla finished with 74 total points overall, nine better than second-place West Anchorage.

“This was probably the toughest,” Burroughs said of the three team titles. “The first year we saw it coming. Last year was a little easier. This year, I guess we had to mentally dig deep for it.”

With a loaded field in the 4A girls class and less than ideal conditions on the Bartlett High School trails, thanks to recent rough weather, Ford said the Warriors really had to be strong Saturday.

“Definitely physically. Mentally, it was pretty tough, too,” Ford said of the race.

Sophomore Riley Burroughs (25th), and seniors Mandi Ringgenberg (32nd) and Alysha Devine (48th) also ran strong to help the Warriors hold off second-place West Anchorage, third-place East Anchorage (108 points) and fourth-place Lathrop (131 points) in the team standings.

“I’m super proud,” Wasilla head coach Gary Howell said of his team. “Every girl on our team gives everything they have every time. The girls all did their job.”

There was plenty of movement in the top 10 of a loaded field that included seven of the top 10 finishers from the 2011 championships (there was plenty of jockeying of positions as runners passed the 2-kilometer, 3-k and 4-k marks) and Michaelson made one of the biggest moves of the race. Midway through, Michaelson passed Lathrop standout Brooke Lizotte to take a hold of the second position. Once she made her move, Michaelson finished the race strong, and placed second with a time of 18:52.

“I am so ecstatic, so happy,” Michaelson said as she continued to be congratulated by friends, families and opposing coaches and runners. “I gave it everything I had left.”

Michaelson, who spent the first 2 kilometers racing in third before she made her move, praised the talent of Lizotte, her Lathrop rival.

“She did an amazing job,” Michaelson said of Lizotte. “I was kind of surprising myself. I was kind of wondering if I had gone out too fast. I was right there with her. Then maybe 3-k, I tried to (speed) up a little bit.”

Kenai Central sophomore Allie Ostrander capped her perfect season with her first state title, winning with a time of 18:46. Ostrander (who also won every regular season race her freshman year, but did record an official finish in the state championships last season) has become accustomed to beating opponents by lopsided margins. Ostrander was 1:13 ahead of the runner-up at the Skyview Invitational, and finished just more than a minute in front of second-place Michaelson at the Palmer Invite. Ostrander beat Michaelson by 45 seconds to win the Region III title last weekend.

But Saturday, the gap between Ostrander and Michaelson was only six seconds.

“She didn’t go out as hard as I thought (she would), but she didn’t stay with us for very long,” Michaelson said of Ostrander.

After seeing what Ostrander went through last year (Ostrander was disqualified for receiving assistance during the 2011 race), Michaelson said she was happy for Ostrander.

“I’m glad she could come out and redeem herself on this course,” Michaelson said. “To have the race like she did last year, it’s easy to let that kind of thing get to her. But she ran hard. I’m just happy for her. She ran fearlessly.”

In recent weeks, Colony head coach Mark Strabel has said, the message to his senior standout has been not to fixate on Ostrander’s overwhelming success. Strabel has said he told Michaelson to focus on running her own race, and leave something in the tank for the state meet.

“This was the tank. The tank is gone,” Michaelson said with a laugh. “I am so satisfied. So happy. I’m surrounded by wonderful people, wonderful family, a wonderful coach. I’m blessed, so happy.”

Seniors Ford, Ringgenberg and Devine capped their Wasilla cross-country careers with a third state title, and Michaelson (was third in state last year) capped her senior year of cross-country with the runner-up finish. But Howell also was able to leave on a high note. Howell, who has led Wasilla High to three state titles in girls cross-country and a pair of state titles in girls state track, coached in his last meet Saturday. Howell stepped down as Wasilla head track coach last spring.

“We wanted to win this one for Howell,” Burroughs said. “We dog-piled him when we found out we won.”

Howell said it was a great way to cap his time as a Wasilla High head coach.

“I certainly can’t think of a better way, and I can’t think of a better group to go out with,” Howell said.

Palmer boys finish

in top 20

ANCHORAGE — A pair of Palmer runners finished in the top 20 of the 4A boys race Saturday.

Sean Hermann was the top Valley runner in the event, finishing 16th overall, just ahead of teammate Chris Osiensky who was 17th. Brandon Schafer led Colony with a 29th-place finish. Brenden Lee placed 40th to lead Wasilla.

Contact Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman sports editor Jeremiah Bartz at sports@frontiersman.com, follow him @matsu_sports and find him by searching Valley Sports Huddle on Facebook.

ASAA/First National Bank State Cross-Country Championships

Saturday, Bartlett High School

Girls 4A team scores:

1. Wasilla 74, 2. West Anchorage 83; 3. East Anchorage 108; 4. Lathrop 131; 5. Service 134; 6. Soldotna 140; 7. Colony 142; 8. South Anchorage 162; 9. West Valley 170; 10. 226.

Girls 4A individual results:

1.    A. Ostrander, Ken 18:46; 2. A. Michaelson, Col 18:52; 3. B. Lizotte, Lat 19:18; 4. M. Kubichek, Lat 19:29; 5. R. Roelle, West 19:29; 6. G. Graham, East 19:31; 7. P. Mathis, Was 19:31; 8. M. Hall, TM 19:36; 9. H. Stevens, ER 19:49; 10. J. Northey, Ser 19:49; 11. M. Burroughs, Was 19:50; 12. L. Blanchet, West 20:03; 13. T. Mahlen, South 20:04; 14. D. McCormick, Sol 20:05; 15. O. Hutchins, Sol 20:06; 16. S. Hartke, Chu 20:10; 17. A. Graham, East 20:10; 18. S. Richardson, ER 20:11; 19. D. O’Donnell, WV 20:13; 20. J. Ford, Was 20:14; 21. A. Waite, Ser 20:17; 22. M. Fink, East 20:24; 23. L. Cawthorn, Kod 20:24; 24. H. Seidl, Dim 20:25; 25. R. Burroughs, Was 20:28; 26. K. Weddleton, West 20:35; 27. A. Spencer, Ser 20:40; 28. M. Thompson, Col 20:41; 29. H. Steffensen, Ken 20:44; 30. C. Walker, West 20:45; 31. A. Horn, Kod 20:46; 32. M. Ringgenberg, Was 20:49; 33. A. Weller, South 20:53; 34. Z. Bigley, Kod 20:55; 35. J. Fleischman, West 20:56; 36. M. Boutet, West 20:59; 37. S. Lilly, WV 21:04; 38. N. Wlling, TM 21:08; 39. S. Fox, Sol 21:09; 40. M. Flynn, East 21:11; 41. A. Fournier, Lat 21:12; 42. E. Acquistapace, WV 21:16; 43. C. Beaugard, West 21:18; 44. S. Victor, Col 21:21; 45. K. Bailly, South 21:24; 46. L. Pothier, Jun 21:25; 47. B. Meier, Col 21:28; 48. A. Devine, Was 21:30; 49. R. Thomas, Sol 21:35; 50. A. Abo, East 21:38; 51. A. Darnell, South 21:38; 52. J. Sherman, WV 21:41; 53. S. Cosgrave, Ser 21:42; 54. A. Hebard, Lat 21:43; 55. T. Hunt-Smith, Ser 21:43; 56. S. Hartke, Chu 21:44; 57. H. Pothast, Sol 21:50; 58. K. Barrows, Jun 21:56; 59. T. Spaic, Col 22:00; 60. T. Haan, Col 22:00; 61. E. Evans, South 22:01; 62. C. Davis, Lat 22:03; 63. L. Burt, East 22:07; 64. J. Mayer, WV 22:16; 65. A. Crellin, Ket 22:18; 66. A. Jager, East 22:27; 67. A. Aist, Ser 22:28; 68. E. Werner, Sol 22:34; 69. T. Fairbanks, WV 22:40; 70. S. Jackson, WV 22:46; 71. T. Yutrzenka, South 22:47; 72. A. Pell, Was 22:47; 73. E. Anzueto, Ket 23:03; 74. J. Kopsack, Col 23:05; 75.M. Gungob, TM 23:07; 76. A. Campbell, South 23:15; 77. H. Xavier, Ser 23:34; 78. H. Handley, JD 23:41; 79. D. Hermann, TM 23:50; 80. K. Jones, TM 23:51; 81. C. Mondelli, Lat 24:14; 82. E. Lohrey, TM 24:21; 83. E. Dawson, TM 24:34; 84. S. Karl, Lat 24:56.

Boys 4A team scores:

1. West Valley 49; 2. Service 54; 3. Kodiak 59; 4. Kenai 136; 5. Colony 164; 6. Lathrop 176; 7. West Anchorage 179; 8. Juneau 185; 9. Chugiak 199; 10. South 212.

Boys 4A individual results:

1. L. Thomet, Kod 16:11; 2. C. Christiansen, Kod 16:18; 3. P. Noon, WV 16:34; 4. P. Norvell, JD 16:39; 5. G. Szweda-Mitte, Ser 16:40; 6. T. Sayre, WV 16:51; 7. J. McCarthey, Kod 16:52; 8. G. Schulz, Ser 16:52; 9. D. McPeters, Chu 16:53; 10. J. Theisen, Ken 16:55; 11. E. Hopfler, WV 16:57; 12. L. Hepfler, WV 16:57; 13. J. Farr, East 17:02; 14. L. Schlemme, Ser 17:09; 15. M. Donaldson, WV 17:09; 16. S. Hermann, Pal 17:10; 17. C. Osiensky, Pal 17:11; 18. M. Sayre, WV 17:13; 19. T. Washington, Ser 17:21; 20. K. English, TM 17:22; 21. J. Koenig, WV 17:22; 22. S. King, Lat 17:23; 23. L. Fried, Kod 17:32; 24. D. Steele, South 17:35; 25. R. Howard, Ser 17:35; 26. D. Redzepi, West 17:35; 27. F. Michaud, Ken 17:36; 28. J. Theisen, Ken 17:36; 29. B. Schafer, Col 17:38; 30. P. Moma, West 17:44; 31. K. Ragan, Lat 17:44; 32. K. Grzeda, WV 17:46; 33. B. Sessom, Col 17:46; 34. C. Hannah, Kod 17:47; 35. N. Mole, Ken 17:49; 36. T. Turney, Ser 17:50; 37. K. Lucas, Col 18:51; 38. T. Jordan, Chu 17:53; 39. J. Elliott, JD 17:53; 40. B. Lee, Was 17:53; 41. J. Steevas, TM 17:56; 42. S. Zimmerman, Lat 17:56; 43. L. Kopsack, Col 17:56; 44. M. Dan, West 17:57; 45. R. Moser, JD 17:58; 46. D. Sinnett, Col 17:59; 47. L. Lynch, West 18:00; 48. S. Mitton, South 18:05; 49. C. Deschamps, South 18:05; 50. E. Fields, Kod 18:06; 51. K. Carlson, Lat 18:08; 52. M. Woodby, JD 18:09; 53. J. Buenther, Ket 18:10; 54. R. Hall, Chu 18:11; 55. L. Twenhafel, South 18:11; 56. T. Cooper, Ken 18:12; 57. L. Reed, Col 18:15; 58. S. Williams, Lat 18:20; 59. T. Sorensen, Chu 18;21; 60. A. Bailly, West 18:25; 61. N. Wright, TM 18:28; 62. N. Wright, TM 18:28; 63. N. Reiter, South 18:30; 64. J. Volz, West 18:25; 65. N. Atkinson, Col 18:35; 66. N. Tsigonis, Lat 18:35; 67. C. Llanos, Ket 18:29; 68. C. Kveseth, Chu 18:41; 69. J. Levan, Kod 18:47; 70. E. Shayer, West 18:49; 71. B. Holst, JD 18:51; 72. C. Mitchell, JD 18:51; 73. M. Lee, Ken 18:53; 74. B. Travers, TM 18:56; 75. A. Fletcher, South 19:02; 76. E. Oba, Lat 19:11; 77. D. Everett, Ken 19:18; 78. T. Thompson, JD 19:20; 79. T. Foster, Chu 19:52; 80. J. Ginter, Chu 20:16.

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