Eagle River’s rugged terrain is a mountaineer’s paradise, so it’s perhaps no surprise some of Alaska’s top mountain runners hail from the community. However, even some of the winners in this year’s Alaska Mountain Runners Grand Prix series were a bit taken aback by their success.
“It was definitely more of a surprise,” said Eagle River’s Christopher Kirk, a 20-year-old personal trainer who won the men’s Grand Prix title this season.
Pomp, circumstance and a little surprise highlighted homecoming Saturday, Sept. 2 at Eagle River High.
The annual homecoming festivities included floats, a performance from the cheer squad, and a royalty ceremony fit for a queen featuring the AFJROTC Sabre Team of cadets Glori Atti, Collin Dyches, Noah Iriarte, Mateo Medina, Tyler Jennings and team commander Dylan West.
“It was super exciting,” said Geena Graf, who was named homecoming queen along with fellow senior Grant Burningham.
A pair of local runners nearly stole the show Saturday with an impressive 2-3 finish at the Palmer Invitational at Palmer High.
Chugiak’s Max Hartke completed the 5-kilometer course in 16 minutes, 10.36 seconds, finishing less than five seconds behind winner Luke Jager of West Anchorage. Crossing the line in third was Eagle River’s Nick Carl, who won a sprint against some of the state’s top distance runners.
Chugiak football coach Roger Spackman is getting two homecomings this season.
Spackman — who grew up in Northern Utah — is rounding up his Mustangs and heading south to his old stomping grounds, where Chugiak will put its undefeated record up against the Green Canyon High, a first-year program in North Logan.
“It’s just going to be a good experience all around,” Spackman said after his team stomped Lathrop 61-13 at Tom Huffer Sr. Stadium to move to 4-0 overall and 2-0 in the Railbelt Conference.
Kenai Central played homecoming spoilers Saturday, handing Eagle River a 42-28 Northern Lights Conference football loss in front of a large, spirited crowd at the Wolves’ Den.
Kenai got a pair of touchdown passes from Connor Felchle to Zack Tuttle and capitalized on four Wolves’ turnovers to improve to 3-1 overall and 1-0 in the Northern Lights Conference. Eagle River dropped to 2-2 overall and 0-1 in the NLC.
Chugiak fell victim to a late touchdown pass from Rebecca Syrup to Elizabeth Johnson in a 12-7 Cook Inlet Conference flag football loss to West Thursday, Aug. 31 at Tom Huffer Sr. Stadium in Chugiak.
The Mustangs took a 7-6 lead in the third quarter on a 12-yard touchdown pass from Eva Palmer to Taylor Rukes and Palmer’s subsequent conversion run. But the Eagles answered on their next possession to get the go-ahead score.
Palmer also had an interception for the Mustangs, who next play Wednesday, Sept. 6 at home against Service at 7:30 p.m.
Chugiak dominated its own volleyball tournament Friday and Saturday, going 9-0 in pool play at the Chugiak Invitational before beating Palmer and Bartlett in back-to-back matches to claim the Gold Bracket championship.
Claire Schimmack had 20 assists and two aces in the championship match win over Bartlett on Saturday, while Sophia Lestina had 10 kills and Malia Mortensen notched 12 digs. Schimmack was named tournament MVP for the Mustangs, who finished 11-0.
Eagle River’s girls cross country running team may have arrived under the radar Saturday, but there’s no way the Wolves got off the trails near Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson without someone taking notice.
Led by a fifth-place finish by freshman Emily Walsh, the Wolves took third in the girls’ team standings behind a pair of powers in dominant West Valley and runner-up Kenai Central.
“They did great,” said Wolves head coach Jacob Bera. “Overall it was just an amazing team effort.”
Opportunistic and unrelenting, the Eagle River Wolves worked as a pack to grind out a 13-12 nonconference prep football win over Dimond Saturday at Eagle River High.
The Wolves forced five turnovers in the game, including an 18-yard Justice Townsend fumble return that proved to be the game winner and a late JT Adams interception that proved to be the game clincher.
“He overthrew it and I had to stick my hands out and it just fell into my lap,” Adams said.
Dimond’s intended receivers tried to strip the ball, but Adams went to the ground to seal the victory.