Teams fourth; four Glacier Bear runners head to state
Four Glacier Bears qualified for the state cross-country championship last weekend but surprise showings by Mount Edgecumbe and Craig dashed hopes of sending full teams to Anchorage.
The Haines boys’ and girls’ teams twice topped the Braves and Panthers earlier this season, but the southern squads stepped up their pace at last weekend’s regional championship in Ketchikan to place second and third, respectively. Sitka won the boys’ and girls’ races.
Only the top three small-school teams in Southeast advance to the state championship.
"We were all disappointed. We all wanted to go to state, but I’m very proud of how they competed," said coach Liam Cassidy. Nearly all the team’s runners posted their best times of the season, he said.
State qualifiers freshman Zayla Asquith-Heinz and senior Marnie Rasmussen each took about 90 seconds off their times during the course of the season, Cassidy said. Asquith-Heinz finished 14 seconds out of first place. Senior Quinn Asquith-Heinz and junior Corey Piper also qualified for state. Each shaved their best runs by about 50 seconds this season.
Teammates who helped keep Haines girls competitive all season but will miss the championship were philosophical about the regional run. "We all tried as hard as we could. We couldn’t go any faster," said junior Jess Giddings. "It just wasn’t our year."
Giddings said the surprise loss would be a lesson for future squads. "You take negatives and turn them into a learning experience."
Cross-country scores are the combined finishes of a team’s first five runners. Asquith-Heinz and Rasmussen were among the race’s top 10 finishers, and the team’s second-tier runners were bunched in a pack, a strategy that typically builds speed.
Edgecumbe and Craig, however, were able to get runners in the gap between the two groups of Glacier Bears. "We all came to the race with a positive attitude. It really surprised us that they were so fast," said senior Jackie St. Clair.
Cassidy said competition was up from a year ago, when the Haines girls qualified for state with slower times. "Our girls improved significantly from last year. That shows how much tougher it was this year. The people who are going to state really earned it."
The regional race was a heartbreaker for the Haines boys, who would have qualified for state if only one of their top five runners had finished a single place ahead.
"It was a good race, but like in every race, you feel you could have improved," said Corey Piper, who qualified for state in 12th place but was disappointed for his team. "I probably could have done better. There were a couple more runners I should have caught."
Cassidy said the short cross-country season in Alaska doesn’t leave much time for sizing up competing teams. "In other places you have 12 races, then qualify for state. Here you have three or four."
He pointed out season improvement by sophomore Isaac Wing and senior Maggie Daly. "Maggie had the best runs of her career the last few weeks. I was pleased to see her finish her career with some real gusto for the sport."
Haines girls’ finishes: Asquith-Heinz (2nd, 20:51), Rasmussen (10th, 22:26), Giddings (28th, 23:44), sophomore Serena Badgley (32nd, 24:58), Daly (35th, 25:18), St. Clair (36th, 25:31), senior Elena Horner (39th, 25:48). Haines boys’ finishes: Asquith-Heinz (3rd, 17:54), Piper (12th, 18:21), Pat Henderson (17th, 18:33), Wing (27th, 19:31), junior Brandon Bachman (52nd, 20:57), sophomore Chevy Fowler (67th, 23:18), senior Brandon Haxton (75th, 26:39).