Bucs score during Regions tourney on home turf

Skiers heading to state championships in Anchorage this week


Mother nature smiled fondly on Valdez this past weekend as both the weather and snow conditions were perfect for great Region III Championship skiing. Several Valdez skiers posted outstanding performances in the field of ten schools and almost 200 skiers.

Friday’s 6.5K skate race successes were led by junior Rylee Norris who posted a hard fought seventh place finish in a very competitive field of 39 varsity girls. Her time placed her first among all 3A girls in the event. Senior Josie McNelly posted her best career time in just her second year of skiing and continues to show consistent improvement and great heart. Junior Taylor Huston had an outstanding JV race finishing first in the field of 44 and just gets faster each week. Junior Angie Alfaro had an impressive showing finishing 24th in just her first year on skis. Senior Stuart Relay was the lone male Buc varsity entry and also skied his best regional skate race of his career. The JV boys featured an excellent performance by sophomore Ben Swanson who placed first in the field of 34 by an impressive 53 seconds. Freshman Isaiah Amberg surprised many with a very strong eighth place finish in the event. Following Amberg with strong and competitive efforts in order of finish were juniors James Hancock, Colton Prevost, and Chris Cummins.

Saturday’s 6.5K girls classic race again found Norris leading the way for the Bucs with another very strong race which again earned her seventh place overall. Her time earned her second place in 3A finish by a mere 1.8 seconds. McNelly again skied a personal best against great competition. Huston skied another very intense race for the JVs earning her a well-deserved second place finish. Alfaro placed a most respectable 27th.

Both the boys varsity and JV skied 8K in the classic competition. Relay had another strong effort and personal best culminating his last regions as a four-year Buc skier. Swanson again led all JV boys with another stellar performance finishing in first place by 36 seconds. Two other Bucs placed in the top 20 in this JV event. Amberg finished in 14th position and Hancock in 17th. Both were very strong performances. Prevost improved six places to 24th and Cummins moved up three to 30th.

In overall standings (combined times for both days), Rylee Norris ended up a very impressive sixth place which was first place overall among all 3A girls - by 11 seconds. Taylor Huston won the girls JV overall title in a tight battle by 3.7 seconds. Joining Taylor on the boys JV side was Ben Swanson who also finished first place overall by a whopping one minute, 43 seconds. Other top 20 finishers in boys JV were Isaiah Amberg (17th) and James Hancock (19th), both of whom in their first year.

The Soldotna Stars were crowned the boys team champion and the Kenai Kardinals took home the girls title. The Colony Knights placed second in both divisions.

The Bucs see their final action of the season this weekend at state in Anchorage.


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