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Prep Cross Country: Runners tune-up at region races ahead of state championships

by | Oct 2, 2023 | Cover Story, Cross Country Running, Prep Spotlight, Running

Chugiak’s Hannah Shaha. Photo by Harlow Robinson.

Prep runners strung together a slew of impressive performances at the region meets, with many qualifying for the cross country state championships.

At the Cook Inlet Conference Championships, over 500 athletes took to the undulating 5-kilometer course at Kincaid Park, where Chugiak’s Hannah Shaha prevailed in the girls race in 19 minutes, 23 seconds.

Shaha, a sophomore, powered to victory winning by a whopping 32 seconds. The victory marked the first individual varsity win for Shaha, who has improved by more than 3.5 minutes since the start of her prep career, placing in the top seven in every race contested this season.

Joining Shaha in the top five were Chugiak teammates Alliyah Fields (19:55) and Hannah Bodkin (19:57), followed by Service’s Miyana Kam-Magruder (19:59) and Chugiak’s Skyler Belmear (20:08).

The Mustangs put all five scorers in the top six to cruise to their third-straight region title with 17 points — 62 ahead of South Anchorage. The win also marks the Mustangs’ 19th consecutive win against in-state competition dating back to 2021.

Also to note was a bull moose who strolled onto the trail after the first handful of runners passed. Racers fled into the woods, halting for approximately 30 seconds until it was safe to resume. As a result, due to the proximity of the fourth and fifth team scores, the top five teams were named to the state championships, as opposed to the usual four.

On the boys side, South Anchorage’s Vebjørn Flagstad proved once again that he is the King of Kincaid, storming to victory in 16:42.

Flagstad, a sophomore, added his second career victory at Kincaid Park, after winning the Big 8 Invite earlier this season. The Wolverine has been nothing but consistent, routinely placing in the top seven and significantly improving his course times from one year ago.

South Anchorage’s Vebjørn Flagstad. Photo by Harlow Robinson.

Dimond’s Jarrett Jackson finished runner-up in 16:49, followed by West Anchorage’s Blake Hanley (16:51), South Anchorage’s Blaise Boyer (16:57) and Chugiak’s Owen Hayes (16:59).

West Anchorage picked up their first team win of the season, amassing 44 points — 10 ahead of South Anchorage.

Palmer High School’s Fischer Adams. Photo by Peter Pounds.

At the Region III Championships, Palmer’s Fischer Adams earned his second region title after winning in 2021, stopping the clock at 16:17.

Adams, a senior, has been on a roll this season, placing no lower than third and putting together three consecutive wins. He is undefeated against Division I competition, with his only losses going to Grace Christian’s Robbie Annett and Simon Nelson, making him one of the favorites to vie for the state title.

Colony’s Tobias Buchanan placed runner-up in 16:58, while Kodiak’s Elias Litzow (17:08), Colony’s Coby Marvin (17:20) and Kodiak’s Miles Grimes (17:32) rounded out the top five.

With all five scorers in the top 11, the Colony Knights marched to their third-straight region title amassing 33 points — 39 ahead of Wasilla and Kodiak (the Warrior’s sixth runner broke the tie).

On the girls side, Colony’s Ella Hopkins upgraded her pair of runner-up finishes to collect her first region title in 19:51.

Hopkins, a junior, added her third win of the season, after previously conquering the Ted McKenney and Frank Dieckgraeff Invitationals. The Knight, who has two top-10 state finishes to her name could very well be a contender for the state title.

Finishing closely behind Hopkins was teammate Morgan Ainsworth (19:51) and Wasilla’s Hailee Giacobbe (20:01), while Soldotna’s Tania Boonstra (20:31) and Colony’s Rachel Danz (20:57) completed the top five.

The Knights collected their fourth-straight region title with 33 points — 27 ahead of Soldotna.

Colony’s Ella Hopkins. Photo by Peter Pounds.

In the Division II competition, Grace Christian’s Robbie Annett sped to victory in 16:29, collecting his ninth win of the season.

Annett narrowly outpaced Kenai Central’s Gregory Fallon (16:31), while Grace Christian’s Simon Nelson (16:35), Colton Merriner (17:11) and Homer’s Caleb Bunker (17:38) rounded out the top five.

Grace Christian’s Robbie Annett leads teammate Simon Nelson and Kenai Central’s Gregory Fallon at the Region III Championships. Photo by Peter Pounds.

The Grace Christian Grizzlies snagged their sixth straight region title with 33 points — 21 ahead of the Homer Mariners.

On the girls side, Seward’s Hailey Ingalls collected her second individual region title in 21:10.

Grace Christian’s Sydney Mondeel finished runner-up (21:22), followed by Seward’s Selah Brueckner (21:47), Juniper Ingalls (21:53) and Maddie Haas (21:53).

By putting all five scorers in the top six, the Seahawks flew away with the team title, amassing 19 points — 46 ahead of Grace Christian.

Seward’s Hailey Ingalls. Photo by Peter Pounds.

Region V held races for all three divisions, hosting the meet at Juneau’s Historic Treadwell Mine Trails.

For the Division I race, Juneau-Douglas swept the individual and team races, with Edgar Vera Alvarado (16:55) and Ida Meyer (19:15) leading charge.

Alvarado narrowly edged Thunder Mountain’s Erik Thompson by less than two-tenths of a second, before Juneau-Douglas’ Nick Iverson (17:00), Joshua Reed (17:28) and Corder Janes (17:36) completed the top five. The region title is the 34th-consecutive for the Juneau-Douglas boys, who have won a staggering 47 of the last 50 championship races.

Meyer led a clean sweep of the top seven positions by the Crimson Bears, followed by teammates Rayna Tuckwood (19:30), Etta Eller (20:03), Kaia Mangaccat (20:41), and Kate Schwarting (20:59). The region title is the 10th-consecutive for the Juneau-Douglas girls, who have won an astounding 43 of the last 46 championships.

The Division II race included another individual and team sweep, this time by the Sitka Wolves.

Clare Mullin added her second region title in 19:29, followed by teammates Marina Dill (19:53), Aliyah Merculief (22:36), Natalie Hall (22:43), and Jadelynn Kubik (22:50).

Connor Hitchcock earned his first region title in 16:50, while teammate Trey Demmert (17:11), Mt. Edgecumbe’s Jacob Friske (17:59), Sitka’s Calder Prussian (18:12) and Annan Weiland (18:20) rounded out the top five.

In the Division III race, Haines’ Ari’el Godinez Long collected her third region title in 20:35, while Kake won the team title for the first time since the 1980s. Petersburg’s Marina Toth placed runner-up in 22:01, followed by Wrangell’s Alana Harrison (23:04), Petersburg’s Kinley Lister (23:32) and Hoonah’s Krista Howland (24:25).

Wrangell’s Boomchain Loucks. Photo by James Poulson.

Wrangell’s Boomchain Loucks helped the Wolves to their second-straight team title, earning his first region title in 17:13. Teammate Keegan Hansen took runner-up in 17:25, followed by Craig’s Aulis Nelson (17:53), Wrangell’s Daniel Harrison (18:03) and Petersburg’s Alex Holmgrain (18:07).

At the Big West Conference, Nome-Beltz swept the individual titles, while Bethel took the team titles.

Nome-Beltz’s Orson Hoogendorn collected his third region title in 19:23, followed by Bethel’s Ned Peters (19:37) and Jackson Iverson (20:23). On the girls side, Nome-Beltz’s AwaLuk Nichols also earned her third region title in 24:03, while teammate Lauren Kingstrom (24:05) and Bethel’s Rosemarie Dyment (26:04) rounded out the top three.

At the Bering Strait Regionals, Unalakleet’s Ourea Busk collected her third win of the season in 21:30, while teammate Violet Jack (25:09) and Shaktoolik’s Autumn Curtis (27:30) completed the top three. On the boys side, Shaktoolik’s Seth Paniptchuk won in 20:23, followed by Golovin’s Ethan Fagerstrom (20:27) and Shishmaref’s Norman Stenek (20:52).

At the Greater Yukon Delta Conference, Hooper Bay’s Latrell Lake topped the field in 19:23, followed by Chevak’s Ace Hill (19:42) and Hooper Bay’s Payton Nanuk (20:15). On the girls side, Scammon Bay’s Daisymae Tunutmoak won in 25:45, followed by teammate Alexandra Tunutmoak (26:49) and Hooper Bay’s Erica Aguchak (27:39).

Lastly, at the Lower Kuskokwim Championships, Kwethluk’s Abraham Fisher won in 22:54, followed by Tuntutuliak’s Jordan Carl (23:04) and Kwethluk’s Klayton Maxie (23:51). On the girls side, Chefornak’s Destiny Panruk won in 27:54, followed by teammate Abbigal Mael (27:59) and Kasigluk’s Teana Pavilla (29:08).

ASAA/First National Bank of Alaska
Cross Country State Championships
Saturday at Mike Janecek Trails, Palmer

10:00 am – Division III Boys
10:45 am – Division III Girls
12:00 pm – Division II Boys
12:45 pm – Division I Boys
1:30 pm – Division II Girls
2:15 pm – Division I Girls

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