“There are some runners up north that are smoking fast and ranked nationally,” Juneau-Douglas co-coach Tristan Knutson-Lombardo said of Saturday’s 2011 Alaska School Activities Association cross country running state championships. “And the course is full of rolling hills.”
Run at Anchorage’s Bartlett High School Trails, the race is over the smooth up and down ski course used in the winter.
The JDHS boys will run David Francis, Jesse Miller, Ian Andrews, Eric Bookless, Tal Norvell, Riley Moser and Martin Woodby.
“David has a chance at first,” JDHS co-coach Merry Ellefson said. “That is his goal, for four years, and he is feeling healthy. He is head strong and focused.”
Added Tristan-Lombardo, “Not just physically, but mentally he is ready to run. I think he is just really excited to be up there. As a team we could do it, but to be in the top two or three you really have to be on step.”
Miller has recovered from flu that hit in Sitka, Norvell is fresh off a personal record last week and the Crimson Bears’ pack has a legitimate chance of a top three team finish. JDHS finished fourth as a team last year.
Francis’ 16:17 time will be in contention for a title with the likes of Services Max Romey, Gilly Szweda-Mitt and Lucas Helper with, respectively, 16:24, 16:52, and 16:57; Kodiak’s Cole Christiansen with 16:07, Palmer’s Mason Minturn at 16:19 and a traditionally fast West Valley squad. It is expected that times will hit the high 15 minutes as runners seek state championships.
The Crimson Bears girls will feature Sidney Browning, Martina Miller, Karissa Jackson, Sarah McDermott, Leah Liebelt, Mali Tamone and Eliza Walker. The JDHS girls finished eighth as a team last year.
“We just have to keep closing the gaps,” Ellefson said. “There are just a lot of tough girls up there. Every body is continuing to improve so that is what we want.”
Browning is sporting a 19-minute time and Miller, Jackson, McDermott have solid 21’s.
Kenai freshman Allie Ostrander is pushing to post a sub-18 minute time. She has beat former four-time JDHS SE Region Champ Leah Francis’ record time by 55 seconds.
Wasilla, West Anchorage, and Dimond have 18-minute runners and nearly every team has one 19 minute speedster.
Juneau’s lane placement puts Browning next to an East runner in her same time stride. That will help Browning pace around the course and Miller, Jackson, and McDermott to hit PR’s. If Liebelt, Tamone and Walker can pass runners, the girls can break the top five standings. Last year the girls finished ninth.
Thunder Mountain will run Katie Jones on the girls side and James Steeves, Khalil English and Nicolas Wright for the boys. All are underclassmen that are using the race for experience.
“Just getting the opportunity to be at that venue with those class of runners is invaluable,” TMHS head coach Scott May said. “We will push for some PR’s and have a fun, hard run.”