One month removed from the high school cross country season, a group of runners put their postseason fitness to the test at Nike Cross Regionals.
Held at Idaho’s Eagle Island State Park, over 30 Alaskans made the trek to the Gem State to race against some of the Northwest’s top competition.
Leading the way for The Last Frontier was none other than Homer’s Seamus McDonough, the Division 2 runner-up who placed in the top-4 in every race this season. The senior turned in a 65th-place showing, recording a time of 16 minutes, 13 seconds for the 5-kilometer race.
Aptly named for the iconic Homer saloon, McDonough ran under the Salty Dawgs club, going out in a blistering first mile in the championship race. As the pack spread out, McDonough maintained his composure, doing his best to maneuver in the crowded 193-person field.
In the four weeks since the state meet, McDonough put together a serious block of training, much of it done solo as the temperatures dropped and teammates dwindled. While the time was outside his personal best, this was McDonough’s first dive into a high-caliber race. Capping the running season leaves the senior wanting more, as he moves his attention toward cross-country skiing, before concluding his prep career on the oval.
Finishing a mere second back was Grace Christian’s David Sliwinski, the two-time Division 2 cross country state champion who battled back-and-forth with McDonough throughout the fall season. Competing under the Run 4 Joy club, Sliwinski finished in 16:14 for 68th place.
Colony’s Zac Cheyette, the Division 1 runner-up a month ago, finished in 17:12 for 160th place.
Senior Tyrone Gorze of Central Point, Oregon won the race in 14:51.
On the girls side, Chugiak’s Campbell Peterson made her postseason debut in the championship race, finishing in 19:23 for 62nd place. The state champion who completed an undefeated season against Alaska competition, finished seven seconds outside her season best, representing the RunAK club.
Joining the senior in the championship race were six of her teammates, five of which were a part of the squad that defended the team title at Bartlett High.
Tying her season best was junior Skyler Belmear, running 19:57 for 102nd place, followed by senior Addison Capozzi in 105th (20:08). Sophomore Allison Macy and junior Emily Moore rounded out the scoring squad in 127th (20:45) and 133rd (21:00). Underclassmen Alliyah Fields and Petra Knox finished in 137th and 155th.
After taking the team title in the girls open race last fall, the RunAK squad finished 14th out of 17 teams in the championship race.
Junior Allie Callahan of Sammamish, Washington took the individual honors in 17:35.
In the boys open race, Eagle River fielded a full team, competing under the Salmon Run XC Club. Senior Henry Michener led the group with a time of 17:31 to finish 115th. He was joined by Caleb Szajkowski (155th), Jack Molloy (208th), Luke Shaw (213th), Josh Penfield (220th), Damien Borchardt (270th), and Grady Eule (271st), to finish 29th out of 38 teams.
Chugiak also fielded a team in the girls open race, led by freshman Hannah Shaha in a personal-best of 20:30 for 65th place. Shaha was joined by Hannah Bodkin (100th), Ellen Kruchoski (161st), Ada Burrup (199th), Samantha Jensen (211th), and Bailey Peterson (223rd), to finish 21st out of 30 teams.
Other finishers included runners in the second boys open race. Grace Christian’s Colton Merriner led the contingent with a 55th-place showing, clocking 17:25. He was followed by Chugiak’s David Penfield (132nd), Service’s Max Kiskaddon (158th), West Anchorage’s Axel Kiskaddon (164th), and Grace Christian’s trio of Simon Nelson (179th), Andrew Pounds (185th), and Easton Roads (269th).
Homer’s Tait Ostrom competed in the boys junior varsity race, finishing in 94th.