Cross-country runners from 15 Southeast Alaska high schools competed in Petersburg over the weekend.
The hometown girls’ team came in first, followed by Ketchikan and Juneau’s Thunder Mountain High School. Ketchikan’s team won the boys’ race, followed by Thunder Mountain and Sitka.
Here’s a look at the meet and some of the coaches and chaperones who make it happen.
Team chants filled the air as about 240 runners from Southeast Alaska high schools met under sunny skies.
The runners lined up, ready to take on the challenge. But the starting pistol wouldn’t fire, so the organizers used something similarly loud: An air horn.
“It was awesome to have all of our fans and parents get to see our kids run. And all the volunteer help that we have is amazing,” said Jaime Cabral, Petersburg’s athletic director.
“Overall, the boys did great, the girls did great. It was an awesome meet,” he said.
The top-scoring girls’ team finished together, in ninth to 15th place. In order, they’re Hannah Pfundt, Kayleigh Eddy, Julia Murph, Makayla Newman, Madisyn Parker and Erin Pfundt.
The boys’ team placed seventh, behind mostly four larger and two smaller schools. Ben Zarlengo, Tucker Hagerman and Nathaniel Lenhard ran in the top 30. Also racing were Kyle Hagerman, Stuart Medalen, Gus Peterson and Andrew Weller.
Teams from around the region came to the race via ferry. The Haines team traveled the farthest, bringing a dozen students.
Chaperone Jane Cowart said they included some runners in their first year of racing.
“There’s a good menagerie, from freshman to senior. And I think they’re all just feeling their way out, finding their place and doing well,” she said.
And what do kids get out of such an event?
“Self-confidence. And a team spirit, because you run by yourself, but yet you run together as a team. They learn to encourage one another and build one another up,” she said.
Juneau’s Thunder Mountain High School sent 30 runners. The boys team came in second, the girls team third.
Head Coach Scott May was happy with the results.
“I was counting PRs, that’s personal records, and we have … seven out of our nine girls who had lifetime personal records. That’s very exciting. It’s a great course and a gorgeous day, perfect for getting for getting personal records,” May said.
Sandi Pahlke is Thunder Mountain’s assistant coach.
“For most of them, running is really important. But they learn how to be part of a team, they learn how to work hard, be responsible for themselves, and learn how to set goals and follow through on them. And those are great life lessons, not just for running,” she said.
The meet and associated travel were not just about the races.
May says he and Pahlke make sure students keep up with their schoolwork.
“It’s a very important thing. We’ve already had two study sessions during this trip and we’ll have another one coming up. It’s academics first. This is a distant second,” he said.
The top two runners in the girls’ race were Thunder Mountain’s Naomi Welling and Erin Wallace. The top two boys were Ketchikan’s Christopher Llano and Sylvan Blankenship.
The top boys were separated by only hundredths of a second.
Petersburg’s Jaime Cabral says that was measured using microchips attached to racers’ bibs.
“As soon as they cross the finish line … the system picks up their chips. So it’s a little bit more accurate times, as they come across. It’s instant data too. We put it into a system and we can post results two minutes after the race is over,” he said.
Southeast cross-country runners have already met in Juneau and Metlakatla. They’ll be in Sitka next week, followed by the regional championships in Ketchikan.