A competitive first meet by both the Juneau-Douglas and Thunder Mountain High School cross country teams will only pick up the pace as multiple Southeastern Conference schools collide at Petersburg this weekend.
“Sitka was a great first meet for both our teams,” JDHS Crimson Bears coach Tristan Knutson-Lombardo said. “Our top two boys (Tal Norvell and Riley Moser) both finished with PR’s and are setting themselves up nicely for the Palmer Invitational in two weeks. We are looking to add depth to our already stellar boy’s team and the girls are looking to be in a very close Region meet battle come September.”
Norvell (16:45), a senior, and Moser (17:01), a sophomore, led the field through the majority of the race at Sitka last weekend, hitting a 5:20 for the first mile. Thunder Mountain junior Khalil English followed the duo with a 17:15.
That time will be needed for all southeast runners if they want to keep stride with state competition as Kodiak High School’s top two distance men, sophomore Levi Thomet and senior Cole Christiansen, put up a 16:01 and 16:07, respectively, to top the field at the recent Bartlett Invitational.
Over 700 runners from 25 schools took to the trails that were the sight of last season’s state meet and will host the championships again on September 29.
Thomet’s time matched last year’s winning state run by West Valley’s Kuba Grzeda.
JDHS’ Norvell hit a 16:46 for 10th place at that state meet while English finished in 61st with 18:02. Falcons’ teammate James Steeves was 50th in 17:54.
“I am going to have to do a lot more hills if they are running that fast this early,” Norvell commented.
At the Bartlett meet Kenai’s Allie Ostrander topped the girl’s field with a 17:58. That time easily eclipsed last season’s winning state time of 18:38 by Lathrop’s Megan Edic.
Ostrander, a sophomore, won every race last season except the state meet where she suffered from dehydration. Ostrander continued to run dizzy and stumbled and walked to the finish in 42 minutes. It appears she is back with a vengeance.
Ostrander’s time means that southeast runners need to prepare for a fast pace on the trails.
At the Sitka Invite, Thunder Mountain’s Maddie Hall ran a 19:17 and teammate Naomi Welling hit 20:47, both were behind the winner from Thorne Bay, Taylee Nyquest in 19:17. Sitka is a flat fast course, while the state venue is a rolling grass run with multiple ups and downs in a mix of footings.
JDHS senior Eliza Walker finished 68th at last season’s state venue with a 22:07. At Sitka Walker posted a seventh-place finish in 21:49. Teammate Leah Liebelt hit a PR with 22:26 and 10th position.
The Crimson Bears large freshman class will add depth to their strong boy’s team and the girls from Thunder Mountain, Ketchikan and JDHS will be battling down to the finish tape for the Region crown as they are all fielding teams with similar strengths and times.
Team individual times should decrease as mileage and interval workouts increase over the next month. Both teams travel to Petersburg this weekend and will have two more travel meets (Skagway/Palmer, Ketchikan) following that to gauge their effort for the region championship in Juneau on September 22. The State Championships are on Anchorage’s Bartlett Trails on September 29.
Following are the rosters for Juneau-Douglas and Thunder Mountain.
JDHS Crimson Bears Boys:
Seniors - Kit Cummins, Ryan Harvey, Tal Norvell, Carl Uchytil, Martin Woodby
Juniors - Malik Brown, Jack Withington.
Sophomores - Grant Ainsworth, Johnny Elliot, Riley Moser,
Freshmen - Alize Arthur, Gavin Beasley, Harrison Bib, James Cheng, Brian Holst, Noah Machakos,
Corbin Mitchell, Ryan Moritz, Jason Nichols, Duncan Smith, Soren Thompson.
JDHS Crimson Bears Girls:
Seniors - Zoe George, Lily Pothier, Elize Walker.
Sophomores - Leah Liebelt, Alicia Norton, Manon Paul, Sinead Scholl, Megan Shuefeldt.
Freshmen - Katline Barrows, Maddie Handley , Nora Lynch.
TMHS Falcons Boys:
Seniors - Nick Bursell, Stephen Ringle, James Steeves, Derec Steinman, Ben Travers.
Juniors - Khalil English, Bradley Peterson, Rafael Sales, Ilya Tolmacheu, Nicolas Wright,
Sophomores - Jamie Barnhill, Addisohn Jones, Michael Lohrey, Brendan Pietz.
Freshmen - Taylor Dallas, Obadiah Dawson, Ben Garrett, Luc Padden, Max Suzuki.
TMHS Falcons Girls:
Seniors - Marella Gungob, Katie Jones, Ashlynn Kay, Emilyanne Lohrey.
Juniors - Rhys Coffee, Estie Dawson.
Sophomores - Maddie Hall.
Freshmen - Dunya Hermann, Naomi Welling.