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Prep Cross Country: Hannah Shaha leads Chugiak to 3rd straight D1 state title, Mustangs complete undefeated season

by | Oct 9, 2023 | Cover Story, Cross Country Running, Prep Spotlight, Running

Div I girls champion Hannah Shaha. Photo by Peter Pounds.

Hannah Shaha’s state title may have surprised some, but for the Chugiak sophomore, it represented a culmination of months of hard work.

Shaha gradually separated herself from the rest of the field at the ASAA/First National Bank Alaska Cross Country Running Championships, conquering the 5-kilometer course in 19 minutes, 19 seconds.

One year ago, Shaha was still fine-tuning her skills at the junior varsity level, dropping her times and improving with each race. After closing out her freshman year at the state track meet, the Mustang was eager to continue writing the legacy Chugiak has built as the two-time defending champions.

After moving up the ranks and inking her first varsity win at the Cook Inlet Conference Championships, Shaha felt confident in pushing toward the next level.

“Every race is a new race so it’s just been amazing I’ve been able to do so well,” said Shaha.

On Saturday, Shaha was thrilled to race, even after first arising around 5am.

“It kind of felt like Christmas morning a little bit,” said Shaha. “I was really excited — it felt like the same nerves as any other race.”

ASAA Cross Country Running Division I State Champion, Chugiak Mustangs.

With Dutch braids adorning her hair, Shaha and the Mustangs were ready for battle. The starting gun sounded and upon completing the first lap, the field started to string out with the sophomore taking charge.

Shaha was followed closely by junior teammate Alliyah Fields and Colony’s Morgan Ainsworth, the George Plumley Invitational winner who triumphed on the same course earlier in the season.

But as the race progressed, so did Shaha’s lead.

“My plan for the first lap was just trying to stay with the group,” said Shaha. “The second lap is the lap that hurts the most for everybody so my plan was to push as much as I could.”

When she reached the track, Shaha sped to her first individual state title with a six-second margin of victory. Fields overtook Ainsworth in the final stretch to claim runner-up by half a second, resulting in a 1-2 finish for the Mustangs.

Shaha’s win marked the second-straight individual title for Chugiak High after Campbell Peterson claimed the crown last fall, joining Shannon Hanson (’89) and Kathy Brewer (’74) as victors.

D1 Girls Top-10 Finishers

1. Hannah Shaha, Chugiak, 19:19

2. Alliyah Fields, Chugiak, 19:26

3. Morgan Ainsworth, Colony, 19:27

4. Hailee Giacobbe, Wasilla, 19:34

5. Ida Meyer, Juneau-Douglas, 19:41

6. Tania Boonstra, Soldotna, 19:55

7. Ella Hopkins, Colony, 19:57

8. Miyana Kam-Magruder, Service, 20:01

9. Rayna Tuckwood, Juneau-Douglas, 20:02

10. Etta Eller, Juneau-Douglas, 20:07

See complete results here.

The Mustangs’ success didn’t stop with Shaha and Fields, as the next three scorers all placed in the top-15.

Senior Skyler Belmear was the third runner in 11th, followed by sophomore Hannah Bodkin in 14th and senior Emily Moore in 15th. Sophomore Petra Knox (20th) and junior Allison Macy (30th) rounded out the squad.

Scoring just 40 points, the Mustangs decisively claimed their third consecutive team title, finishing ahead of Juneau-Douglas (69) and Colony (72). Dimond collected the team academic award.

The victory marks Chugiak’s seventh girls team title (’90-’92, ’01, ’21-23) and 20th consecutive win against in-state competition. It’s one of the longest streaks in recent years, which dates back to the 2021 season, as the Mustangs complete yet another undefeated season.

“Our coaches are amazing, our team is amazing — I’m just so happy I could join such a strong team and help the team become that much stronger,” said Shaha.

Colony’s Morgan Ainsworth races for the finish against Chugiak’s Alliyah Fields. Photo by Peter Pounds.

Feature photo by Jaycie Calvert.

Story made possible by:

Family of Sponsors

Advanced Diagnostics, INC | Alaska Airlines | Alaska Oil and Gas Association | Alliance for Support of American Legion Baseball in Alaska | Joe Alston | Arctic Slope Regional Corporation | Aspen Endodontics | Glen Bailey | Kathie Bethard | Black-Smith, Bethard & Carlson, LLC. | BOSCO's | Don Clary & Judy Besh | Zareena and Allen Clendaniel | Continental Auto Group | Joey Caterinichio & Ja Dorris | The Conway Family | Donley Family | Jim & Michelle Hajdukovich | Foley & Pearson | JL Properties | Mark and Jamie Johnson | Kristopher Knauss | Loren Kroon | Dr. Justin Libby, DDS | Jason & Shannon Metrokin | Amy and Jason Miller | Multisport Training of Alaska/Lisa Keller | Rick Mystrom | Kathleen Navarre | Seth Wickersham & Alison Overholt | Dave and DeAnne Rand | R&M Consultants, Inc. | RE/MAX Dynamic Properties Kevin Taylor | Replacement Glass | Residential Mortgage | RSA Engineering- Sarah & A.J. Schirack | Tony and Carla Slaton Barker | Sportclips Haircuts | Alice & Gunnar Knapp | Peter Pounds | Dan Rufner | Harlow Robinson | Pete Robinson | Moria Smith | Taylored Restoration | In memory of Drs. John & Elizabeth Tower | Team Heat | Todd Whited | UAA Seawolves | Don Winchester

Family of Sponsors

Alaska Airlines | Nicole Johnston | Richard Mize | Advanced Diagnostics, INC | Aktive Soles | Alaska Oil and Gas Association | Aspen Endodontics | Black-Smith, Bethard & Carlson, LLC. | BOSCO's | Coho Financial Group | Continental Auto Group | Don Clary & Judy Besh | Glen Bailey | Invisalign-Ben Ward | JL Properties | Joey Caterinichio & Ja Dorris| Kathleen Navarre | Midas Alaska | Moose's Tooth, Bear Tooth and Broken Tooth Brewing | Perkins Coie - Sarah & A.J. Schirack | R&M Consultants, Inc. | RE/MAX Dynamic Properties Kevin Taylor | Residential Mortgage | Seth Wickersham & Alison Overholt | Taylored Restoration | Korndrop Family Foundation | Arctic Slope Regional Corporation | Replacement Glass | Zareena and Allen Clendaniel | Foley & Pearson | UAA Seawolves | Tony and Carla Slaton Barker | Sportclips Haircuts | Alliance for Support of American Legion Baseball in Alaska | Alice & Gunnar Knapp | Amy and Jason Miller | Burgerfi | Charles Fedullo | Dan Rufner | Darren Lieb | Don Winchester | Donley Family | Dr. Justin Libby, DDS | Firetap | Harlow Robinson | Jason & Shannon Metrokin | Jim & Michelle Hajdukovich | Joe Alston | Kathie Bethard | Krispy Kreme | Kristopher Knauss | Loren Kroon | Mark and Jamie Johnson | Mark Silverman | On the Border | Pete Robinson | Rick Mystrom | Team Heat | Team Moriarty | The Conway Family | Todd Whited | Moria Smith | In memory of Drs. John & Elizabeth Tower | Peter Pounds | Multisport Training of Alaska/Lisa Keller | RSA Engineering

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