WASILLA — On an afternoon that four teams qualified for the state meet, a Palmer senior used a career day to chase down a championship.

Powered by her final kick, Ruby Woodings broke away from a pack of lead runners and sprinted to victory in the 4A girls’ race during the Region III Championships Saturday at the Tsalteshi Trails in Soldotna.

“Ruby had the best race of her life,” Palmer head coach John Bishop said by cellphone after the championships.

Woodings clocked a personal-record time of 19 minutes, 20.6 seconds to win the individual title. It’s the second time this season that Woodings ran sub-20 minutes in a 5-kilometer race, and the mark is 36 seconds faster than her previous season best, the 19:56 she recorded at the Palmer Invitational. She beat her old season best, a 19:27 at the Bartlett State Preview Meet last year, by seven seconds.

Bishop has said throughout the season that Woodings has the talent to record this type of win. But on this day, it came down to strategy.

“She sat on the leaders the whole time. Last 200 yards she left three girls from the front pack behind. It was awesome,” Bishop said.

It’s the final kick, or sprint, that made the difference.

“Nobody can touch her,” Bishop said of Woodings on the final stretch.

Woodings said she went into the race ready to use this strategy.

“I was waiting it out to the end to pass them,” Woodings said by cellphone.

Woodings also helped the Palmer girls earn a top-3 spot in the team standings and a trip to the state tournament for the first time in more than a decade.

“I’m really happy my team made it to state finally,” Woodings said.

Woodings led a squad that blended a pair of seniors with four freshmen, and placed all six runners in the top 20.

“The girls did great. I’m really happy with how all of them did,” Bishop said.

Senior Rya Berrigan also posted a personal best Saturday, placing 13th with a time of 20:25.

“Rya worked really hard today to get up there [in the standings],” Bishop said.

Sophia Nowers was the first freshman to cross the finish line for the Moose, also recording a personal best with a time of 20:25 to place 12th. Freshman Nina Kalytiak was 17th at 21:12, and was followed by fellow freshmen Lydia Ortiz (19th place, 21:35) and Rosemary Toro (20th, 21:35).

The Palmer girls are one of four Valley teams to record top-3 finishes, and score an automatic berth to the ASAA/First National Bank State Cross-Country Running Championships, slated for Saturday at Bartlett High School in Anchorage.

Colony is sending both teams to state after the Knights girls and boys finished second in each class.

“It was a really good day for both teams,” Colony co-head coach Rhonda Knopp said by cellphone Saturday afternoon.

As the Knights prepared for the meet, Knopp said the Colony coaches expected the Knights girls to be in contention for a top-2 spot in the team standings. But the Colony boys’ exceeded expectations.

Led by senior Tracen Knopp, who finished as the region-runner up in the varsity boys’ race, Colony finished second in the team standings with 56 total points. Knopp used a time of 16:24 to finish second.

In addition to Knopp, Colony co-head coach Norm Rousey said the work of his second, third and fourth runners really helped ensure Colony a top-2 finish in the team standings.

“Our two, three and four runners really kind of put us in the game,” Rousey said by cellphone. “Our fifth came through to seal the deal.”

Freshman Gavin Block finished fifth for the Knights, with a time of 17:02. Sophomore Jackson Peters used a personal-best tie of 17:21 to score a 10th-place finish.

“Jackson Peters got himself in the top 10 with a P.R.,” Rousey said.

Colony’s fourth runner across the finish line, Jeff Lautrup, also posted a personal best, finishing 17th with a time of 17:33.

Kodiak won the boys’ team title with 47 total points.

The Colony girls finished second in the team standings with 50 points, eight behind region champion Kenai.

“We’re pretty excited the girls got second,” Rhonda Knopp said.

Junior Jill Bowker led three Knights in the top 7, and five in the top 18. Bowker tied a career-best with a third-place finish in regions, while clocking a season-best time of 19:30. Seniors Coleen Geraghty (19:48) and Elisabeth Bowker (19:52) each ran a personal best to finish sixth and seventh respectively. Senior Cathelyne Powers (20:57) was 16th, and sophomore Geneva Highley (21:25) finished 18th.

Knopp was named Region III Coach of the Year, but was quick to say the addition of Rousey, her brother, as an official co-head coach on the staff was a big reason she was named the top coach in the region.

“I really want to share that coach of the year. He’s assisted in the past, but coming on officially and being another head coach alongside me has been tremendous,” Knopp said.

The Wasilla boys also earned a trip to the state tournament with a third-place finish in the team standings.

Freshman Hunter Hayes led Wasilla with a time of 16:43, and a third-place finish. Junior Isaak Bell posted a season-best time of 17:25, and finished 14th. Senior’s Thorsten Warhus (17:30) and Eliasson VanPelt (17:39) each recorded a personal best, and finished 16th and 19th. Junior Kaleb Greathouse was just outside of the top 20, placing 21st with a time of 17:51.

Four Valley runners also posted top 15 finishes to qualify for state as individuals.

The Palmer boys are sending a pair to state. Sophomores Leif Mumma and Connor Owens both recorded a personal best. Mumma was sixth with a time of 17:04 and Owens was 13th with a mark of 17:22.

Freshman Brynn Steiner will represent the Wasilla girls in state. Steiner finished 15th with a personal-record time of 20:56.

Houston sophomore Allison VanPelt led all Valley runners in the 123A races. VanPelt finished fifth in the girls’ race, with a time of 19:54. VanPelt ran under 20 minutes for the third time this season, and the second straight week. A personal-best time of 19:50 came in early September at the Palmer Invitational.

Contact Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman sports editor Jeremiah Bartz at sports@frontiersman.com.

Region III Championships

Saturday, Tsalteshi Trails, Soldotna

GIRLS

Class 1-2-3A

Team scores: 1. Homer, 23; 2. Grace Chrisitian, 46; 3. Seward, 83; 4. Anchorage Chrisitian Schools, 90.

Individual five-kilometer results

1. Megan Pitzman, Hom, 19:37; 2. Audrey Rosencrans, Hom, 19:46; 3. Autumn Daigle, Hom, 19:47; 4. Tessa O’Hara, ACS, 19:52; 5. Allison VanPelt, Hou, 19:54; 6. Grace Gannon, Gra, 20:01; 7. Ruby Lindquist, Sew, 20:03; 8. Mazzy Jackson, Gra, 20:13; 9. Lauren Evarts, Hom, 20:28; 10. Alex Moseley, Hom, 20:28; 11. Charlee Demientieff, Gra, 20:32; 12. Laura Ellis, Gra, 20:36; 13. Haley Knott, Hom, 20:42; 14. Maddy Morgan, Gra, 20:56; 15. Katie Davis, Hom, 21:02; 16. Grace Annett, Gra, 21:33; 17. Sadie Lindquist, Sew, 21:39; 18. Amy Hatter, Gra, 21:41; 19. Emma Moore, Sew, 21:42; 20. Tanis Lorring, Sew, 22:16; 21. Destiny Reimers, ACS, 22:18; 22. Anika Witsoe, Cor, 22:24; 23. Tommi Crist, Red, 22:32; 24. Mary Kate Parks, ACS, 22:42; 25. Ria Smyke, Cor, 22:42.

26. Ruth Sobek, ACS, 22:49; 27. Ashley Fuller, ACS, 22:56; 28. Coral Petrosius, Sew, 23:06; 29. Emily Tedrick, ACS, 23:11; 30. Emma Armand, Sew, 23:24; 31. Sophia Dow, Sew, 24:24; 32. Katelyn Wadsworth, Val, 24:26; 33. Amber Major, Val, 24:38; 34. Makenzie Hofacker, ACS, 25:23.

Class 4A

Team scores: 1. Kenai Central, 42; 2. Colony, 50; 3. Palmer, 62; 4. Kodiak, 68; 5. Wasilla, 145; 6. Soldotna, 147.

Individual five-kilometer results

1. Ruby Woodings, Pal, 19:20; 2. Jaycie Calvert, Ken, 19:27; 3. Jill Bowker, Col, 19:30; 4. Riana Boonstra, Ken, 19:38; 5. Brooke Satathite, Ken, 19:43; 6. Coleen Geraghty, Col, 19:48; 7. Elisabeth Bowker, Col, 19:52; 8. Ithaca Bergholtz, Ken, 19:53; 9. Honey Rose Macatuno, Kod, 20:10; 10. Carly Glover, Kod, 20:16; 11. Arielle Himelbloom, Kod, 20:17; 12. Sophia Nowers, Pal, 20:20; 13. Rya Berrigan, Pal, 20:25; 14. Maddie Christiansen, Kod, 20:46; 15. Brynn Steiner, Was, 20:56; 16. Cathelyne Powers, Col, 20:57; 17. Nina Kalytiak, Pal, 21:12; 18. Geneva Higley, Col, 21:25; 19. Lydia Ortiz, Pal, 21:35; 20. Rosemary Toro, Pal, 21:36; 21. Amanda Mayer, Col, 21:44; 22. Molly Erickson, Sol, 21:46; 23. Julie Wilson, Ken, 21:50; 24. Katie Parnell, Kod, 21:50; 25. Addison Gibson, Ken, 21:56.

26. Alyson Kopsack, Col, 22:13; 27. Cameron Blackwell, Sol, 22:17; 28. Kellie Arthur, Sol, 22:22; 29. Chloe Nelson, Kod, 22:33; 30. Carissa Vasquez, Was, 22:43; 31. Madison Parker, Kod, 22:54; 32. Kayla Lopez, Was, 22:59; 33. Caitlin Bales, Was, 23:12; 34. Sophie Thomas, Sol, 23:29; 35. Jordan Burroughs, Was, 23:30; 36. Fiona Boze, Sol, 24:27; 37. Amelia Butler, Was, 24:36; 38. Breann Drourbaugh, Was, 24:55; 39. Tovia Bremond-Hilton, Sol, 27:02; 40. Selby Hill, Sol, 27:21.

BOYS

Class 1-2-3A

Team scores: 1. Homer, 37; 2. ACS, 56; 3. Grace, 57; 4. Seward, 109; 5. Cordova, 133; 6. Houston, 152.

Individual five-kilometer results

1. Hunter Kratz, Sew, 15:54; 2. Blake Bennett, ACS, 16:01; 3. Zach Hamberger, Cor, 16:22; 4. Trent Fritzel, Gra, 16:28; 5. Jordan Beachy, Hom, 16:42; 6. Jacob Davis, Hom, 16:45; 7. Luciano Fasulo, Hom, 16:53; 8. Jared Brant, Hom, 16:57; 9. Luke Fritzel, Gra, 17:10; 10. Gabe Martin, Gra, 17:18; 11. Charlie Menke, Hom, 17:29; 12. William Parks, ACS, 17:38; 13. Kaleb Smith, ACS, 17:39; 14. Ben Sobek, ACS, 17:40; 15. John Sanford, ACS, 17:41; 16. Vincent Coverdell, Gra, 17:50; 17. Denver Waclawski, Hom, 17:59; 18. Levi Gionet, Gra, 18:02; 19. Tobin Karlberg, Gra, 18:09; 20. Jens Knutson, Hou, 18:11; 21. Ethan Isaacson, Gra, 18:13; 22. Zen Petrosius, Sew, 18:17; 23. Bill Rich, Hom, 18:27; 24. Riley Scott, Hou, 18:34; 25. Dillon Fogg, ACS, 18:42. 26. Brendon McMurry, Sew, 18:48; 27. Shannon LeMay, ACS, 18:50; 28. Gage Frohnapefel, Cor, 19:08; 29. Steven Osborn, Sew, 19:08; 30. Micah Whitcomb, Cor, 19:19; 31. Roma Hamner, Sew, 19:25; 32. Jaden Van Dyke, Sew, 19:34; 33. Isaac Smoldon, Hou, 19:40; 34. Simon Estes, Sew, 19:54; 35. Bryan McCollum, Nik, 20:29; 36. James Hacock, Val, 20:41; 37. Rafael Alfaro, Val, 20:55; 38. Joseph Yourkoski, Nik, 20:58; 39. William Deaton, Cor, 21:02; 40. Lain Guim, Hou, 21:17; 41. Gavin Wallis, Nik, 21:36; 42. Kaleb Corillo, Cor, 22:54; 43. Ethan Beckett, Cor, 23:03; 44. Ben Swanson, Val, 23:12; 45. Aaden Hendrick, Hou, 24:07; 46. Ben Wray, Cor, 24:57.

Class 4A

Team scores: 1. Kodiak, 47; 2. Colony, 56; 3. Wasilla, 74; 4. Palmer, 95; 5. Soldotna, 107; 6. Kenai Central, 135.

Individual five-kilometer results

1. Keith Osowski, Kod, 16:10; 2. Tracen Knopp, Col, 16:24; 3. Jack Hannah, Kod, 16:41; 4. Hunter Hayes, Was, 16:43; 5. Gavin Block, Col, 17:02; 6. Leif Mumma, Pal, 17:04; 7. Braden Olsen, Ken, 17:10; 8. Brenden Thompson, Kod, 17:20; 9. Josh Shuler, Sol, 17:20; 10. Jackson Peters, Col, 17:21; 11. Karl Danielson, Ken, 17:22; 12. Koby Vinson, Sol, 17:22; 13. Connor Owens, Pal, 17:22; 14. Isaak Bell, Was, 17:25; 15. Anthony Maghupoy, Kod, 17:29; 16. Thorsten Warhus, Was, 17:30; 17. Jeff Lautrup, Col, 17:33; 18. Chase Rosenberg, Pal, 17:38; 19. Eliasson Van Pelt, Was, 17:39; 20. Gabe Nummer, Kod, 17:49; 21. Kaleb Greathouse, Was, 17:51; 22. Josh Taylor, Col, 17:53; 23. McKinley Larson, Was, 17:54; 24. Daniel Waitman, Was, 17:58; 25. Bechler Metcalf, Sol, 18:01. 26. Camrin Yturbe, Kod, 18:02; 27. Michael Bersin, Kod, 18:02; 28. Johnie Burton, Pal, 18:02; 29. John-Mark Pothast, Sol, 18:03; 30. Lev Robertson, Pal, 18:20; 31. Luke Arthur, Col, 18:21; 32. Lance Chilton, Sol, 18:22; 33. Bradley Walters, Sol, 18:23; 34. Addison Downing, Sol, 18:2; 35. Cade Johnston, Col, 18:29; 36. Julian Davis, Pal, 18:46; 37. Amiqaq Maclean, Pal, 19:19; 38. Cy Dull, Ken, 19:24; 39. Gideon Collver, Ken, 20:02; 40. Alden Bookey, Ken, 20:05; 41. Jaycob Goff, Ken, 20:38.

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