Mariners race to state runner-up honors
Jacob Davis knew going into the Alaska State Cross-Country Championships that a lot of people were trying to figure out the Mariners' secret to success. The truth is, he said, they just work really well as a team.
"It was really different this year for us," said Davis, who topped a list of six Mariners who raced their way into the top 50 at the Division II state meet on Saturday at Bartlett High School. "We had a new coach and a lot of new runners, but we pulled together and came out strong."
Backed by top 15 efforts from Davis, Luciano Fasulo and Jordan Beachy, the Mariners sprinted to the state runner-up honors. As a team, all seven HHS runners finished in the top 65 spots in a field that featured almost 150 runners from across the state. Homer finished with 67 total points — just seven less than Anchorage Christian.
One of the state's top runners this season, Davis more than did his part to ensure the Mariners would challenge for a second straight state cross-country title. A senior, he powered his way to fourth in the individual standings by legging out a time of 16 minutes, 42 seconds.
"I think it (his race) went pretty well," said Davis, one of only eight runners to complete the 5-kilometer race in less than 17 minutes. "I didn't quite catch Tristain (Merchant) for third and that was kind of my big goal, but I'm pleased with how I finished. For me, I'm even happier how the team did. I think everyone on the team came out and did the best they could."
Davis finished just 12 seconds behind Merchant in the standings.
Galena's Jacob Moos repeated as the Division II state champion. He won the race with a mark of 15:33. Anchorage Christian's Blake Bennet finished second at 15:47.
Like Davis, Fasulo turned more than a few heads at the state meet. A junior, he turned in the best time of his career en route to claiming sixth. He finished the 3.1-mile race with a time of 16:46 and edged out Grace Christian at the wire.
"I kind of got pushed around a little there at the start, but once I got free, I think it went pretty well," he said. "At the end, I was able to use the downhill parts to pass some people. Moving up at the end was pretty fun."
Fasulo's sixth-place finish was an improvement over his last trip to the state meet. A year ago, he finished eighth.
Seniors Jordan Beachy and Denver Waclawski gave Homer's bid at the top spot a boost. Beachy was the Mariners' third runner to finish in the top 15. He strode across the finish line in 14th with a time of 17:22. Waclawski turned in a career-best performance and etched his name in at No. 20 with a time of 17:43.
Bill Rich rounded out the list of Homer's top five runners. The junior finished 30th overall with a time of 18:02.
Clayton Beachy and Dexter Lowe also performed well for the Mariners. A freshman, Beachy finished 48th at 18:26, while Lowe was 65th at 18:56.
Tommy Wells can be reached at email@example.com