Tobias Buchanan

More than one month removed from the high school cross country season, two dozen Alaskans traveled to Nike Cross Regionals, lining up against some of the top prep competition in the Northwest.

Colony’s Tobias Buchanan saved his best for last, covering the 5-kilometer course in 16 minutes, 24 seconds to collect a shiny personal best in his final prep cross country race. The senior placed 107th in a deep championship field, held at the Eagle Island XC Course in Boise, Idaho.

Buchanan, who placed runner-up at the Division 1 state meet, shaved 2.7 seconds from his previous best set in late September.

Running unattached, the Colony High standout started quickly, coming through the first mile in 4:56. While his pace fluctuated, Buchanan maintained composure on the course, which sits at 2,500 feet above sea level. He closed well, passing 30 runners over the last mile before crossing the finish line, knowing he gave his strongest effort.

Nathan Neil of Bozeman, Mont. won the race in a course-record time of 14:49.

Donning a Palmer High jersey, Colony’s Tobias Buchanan competes at NXR. Photo by RunnerSpace

On the girls side, Chugiak’s Hannah Shaha, the Division 1 state champion, also had a strong showing at Nike Cross Regionals, leading her team to a runner-up finish in the open division.

The sophomore opened with a 5:43 mile before dialing back the pace slightly. After breaking the 20-minute barrier for the first time in early September, Shaha added another stunning time to her repertoire for the fifth-consecutive race, clocking 19:20. Representing the RunAK club, she placed 17th overall among the 898 athletes who competed in the open races.

Joining Shaha in the race were four of her teammates who were also a part of the Mustangs’ state-winning team that collected its third-consecutive title.

Junior Alliyah Fields placed 47th (19:53), followed by sophomore Hannah Bodkin in 67th (20:05), senior Hannah Moore in 96th (20:20) and junior Allison Macy in 113th (20:29).

The squad amassed 231 points to place runner-up in the open division — 40 points behind Stumptown XC Club. The RunAK crew added hardware to their growing collection after previously winning the open title in 2021.

Chugiak’s RunAK team poses with the runner-up plaque. Photo by Susan Bick

Also competing in the race was Colony’s Ella Hopkins, running unattached.

Coming off a seventh-place state finish, the junior held her own in her postseason debut, placing 35th overall and clocking 19:49 to finish as the second Alaskan following Shaha.

Rilyn Stevens of Meridian, Idaho won the open division in 18:25.

Other finishers included Chugiak’s Ryleigh Ervin (21:11), Samantha Jensen (21:30), Ada Burrup (22:12), Colony’s Molly VanTassel (22:15), Chugiak’s Ellen Kruchoski (22:26), Kyra Walter (22:27) and Hannah Stepetin (24:25). The six Chugiak athletes represented the second girls RunAK team which placed fourth out of 27 teams in the third section of the open race.

In the boys open race, Palmer’s Tobin Miller was the top finisher for The Last Frontier, running unattached. The senior placed 98th (16:54) overall, narrowly bettering Chugiak’s Owen Hayes who recorded a personal best by four seconds to place 100th (16:55), though the two competed in separate sections. Palmer’s Bodie Miller nearly matched his personal best, finishing 210th (17:19), while Eagle River’s Luke Shaw improved his course time by placing 362nd (17:46).

Chugiak’s Hannah Shaha (2168) competes at NXR. Photo by RunnerSpace

Other finishers include Colony’s Pierce McDonough (18:08), Chugiak’s Jack Schamber (18:41), Kaiden Bodkin (18:43), River Johnson (18:47), Mason Newell (19:06) and Eagle River’s Nathan Momblow (19:38).

The boys RunAK club finished 22nd out of 37 teams in the third section of the open race.

Kaden Chatfield of Riverton, Wyo. won the open division in 15:44.

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