Kirkby, Greiner, Kellogg and Segger triumph at junior nationals
LAKE PLACID — The two-day Norton USA Luge Junior National Championships at Mount Van Hoevenberg concluded Sunday, March 8 exactly the way they began on Saturday, with singles athletes Sophie Kirkby and Matt Greiner, and the doubles team of Dana Kellogg/Duncan Segger, racing away with their respective 2020 national championships. All three sleds swept the weekend races by comfortable margins.
There were three events in two days with separate seeding races daily.
The singles divisions then combined their four heats over the entire weekend to determine the 2020 winners. In doubles, only Sunday’s event counted toward the Norton title. USA Luge created the formats to mirror the Olympic competitions where singles are contested with four legs over two days, while doubles are a one-day, two-heat affair.
Kirkby, of Ray Brook, registered the best individual times in each of the first three heats on her way to a four-run aggregate of 3 minutes, 0.851 seconds and her first junior national trophy. Kirkby also collected the 200 seeding race points as well.
Chevonne Forgan, of Chelmsford, Massachusetts, was next in 3:01.389. Forgan’s total included the best single heat of the weekend when she raced the Mount Van Hoevenberg track in 44.691 on her final run as a junior.
Elana Morrison, of Muskegon, Michigan, took the bronze medal in 3:02.633.
Greiner, of Park City, Utah, and a participant in the 2020 Youth Olympic Games, opened the four-heat event on Saturday with a second-place run, and then went on a tear over the last three legs. Greiner posted the best individual times in those final three attempts on his way to a winning 3:25.446 coming off start number two at the Olympic Sports Complex.
“I’m very proud of myself and happy with how I performed,” smiled Greiner. “Last week was a bit of a disappointment, so to come in here junior week and perform to the best of my ability, it felt super good.
“After day one, I thought it might be a bit of a fluke. It was super hard ice, but I really showed my consistency and my skill on this track. It’s awesome to come out here and show them who’s boss.”
Zack DiGregorio, of Medway, Massachusetts, was next in 3:35.753 with four consistent runs that were ranked either second or third fastest throughout the event. Lake Placid’s Sean Hollander gave up ground in the first leg, with a ninth-place run, but he rallied with three steady top three runs and took the bronze medal in 3:26.755.
Both DiGregorio and Hollander saw World Cup duty in the closing weeks of the season. Hollander has aged out of juniors and will move up to the national team next season.
After three starts in the World Cup over the second half of the winter, the doubles team of Kellogg, of Chesterfield, Massachusetts, and Segger of Lake Placid, returned to their home track and raced to their second Norton Junior National crown.
The winners clocked 2:59.326 racing from the World Cup start height.
Hollander and Michael O’Gara, of La Crescenta, California, picked up the silver medal in 3:02.130. Maya Chan of Chicago and Whitesboro’s Reannyn Weiler in slid to the bronze in 3:05.024.