After 1st meet, runners look toward times
Haines runners ran well in their first cross-country meet of the season at Saturday’s Petersburg Invitational, but it’s still too early in the season to gauge how the team stacks up in the region.
Among small schools, the Haines boys placed second after Craig and the Glacier Bear girls were third behind first-placed Petersburg and Sitka. But several small schools did not field full teams or weren’t yet running at full strength, said coach Liam Cassidy.
“We haven’t seen the full extent of the competition and we haven’t fully realized what we’re capable of,” Cassidy said. “At this point, it’s about which teams improve the most.”
Haines missed a team berth at the state championship last year when Mount Edgecumbe and Craig – which Haines had defeated earlier in the season – surged at the regional championship meet, behind first-place Sitka.
The first three boys and girls teams in Southeast to finish at the regional championship advance to state.
Cassidy said he was encouraged by the first meet and impressed by the performances of first-time competitors at the meet, including freshman Neil Little, sophomore Natalia Taylor and juniors Libby Jacobson, Kai Sato-Franks, and Justin Swinton. More rookies will join them at Friday’s meet in Skagway.
“It’s exciting to see people get out there and challenge themselves and see what they can do,” Cassidy said.
Runners may be looking more to their times than to early-season race placements to see how they’ll fare at season’s end. Sophomore Zayla Asquith-Heinz, 15, is Haines’ fastest girl and finished an impressive 8th overall in the meet, which included runners from the region’s largest schools.
But Asquith-Heinz didn’t match her best time from last year, and still wants to take a minute off her best. Two new runners from Thorne Bay were ahead of her last week.
Teammate rookie Taylor, after her first cross-country meet, said she wasn’t sure how much faster she could go. She was Haines’ fourth runner in, a strong finish, but said she felt sick to her stomach in the middle of the race.
Corey Piper, a 17-year-old senior, led the Haines boys. His time of 17:38 was an improvement over last year, he said, but he’s hoping to pick up enough speed to be among the top five small-school runners at the regional championships.
“I didn’t feel 100 percent. I think I’ll probably improve by regionals and state,” Piper said. He expressed confidence in the boys’ team, noting it finished only two points behind Craig and ahead of Petersburg and Sitka.
After Skagway, the teams have a single meet in Ketchikan before the regional championship Sept. 22. To compensate for the relatively short season, Cassidy said he would simulate meets during practices.
Haines finishers in the boys’ race, which included large schools, included Piper, 10th (17:38), senior Patrick Henderson 22nd (18:05), senior Chris Olsen 29th (18:34), Little 41st (19:11), Sato-Franks 49th (19:35), senior Brandon Bachman 59th (19:45), junior Chevy Fowler 93rd (22:35), and Swinton 96th (23:18).
Girls finishers for Haines included Asquith-Heinz 8th (20:59), senior Jess Giddings 23rd (22:44), Jacobson 35th (23:38), Taylor 39th (24:36), senior Tia Heywood 45th (24:53), junior Serena Badgley 51st (25:47) and junior Isobel Smith 61st (28:11).