The Haines boys finished close behind small-school competitors but the Glacier Bear girls had a tougher time of it during a wet and grueling cross-country race Friday in Skagway.
Juneau, Thunder Mountain, Sitka, Mount Edgecumbe, Skagway, Hoonah and Haines competed.
Wind, rain and a steep, uphill finish added as much as two minutes to runners’ times, said coach Liam Cassidy. The course started at the White Pass railyard and ended climbing the ridge behind Yakutania Point.
“Timewise and course-wise, it was probably the hardest race of the season,” Cassidy said. The season is quickly winding down, with the regional championship coming in less than two weeks. The squads compete this coming weekend in Ketchikan.
This was to be the last week of hard workouts, Cassidy said.
“At this point in the season, our training becomes more and more individualized. Some people need a rest. Some can push harder and make a jump in their times. I hope they all make improvement, but that’s not always possible. The most important thing is to try to stay healthy and improve by regionals,” Cassidy said.
Colds sidelined two of the Haines girls’ top runners – senior Jess Giddings and junior Libby Jacobson. Both were on the mend and practicing early this week. A highlight for the girls’ squad was a performance by eighth-grader Shay Otton, who was the second-fastest Glacier Bear, finishing 18th in 25:49.
Sophomore Zayla Asquith-Heinz led the Haines girls, finishing third overall in 22:25. Behind her in scoring was junior Serena Badgley (20th, 26:24), sophomore Natalia Taylor (24th, 26:57), sophomore Jennie Humphrey (33rd, 28:13), senior Tia Heywood (34th, 28:16), sophomore Celia Bower (36th, 29:07), and junior Isobel Smith (37th, 31:31).
Haines runners coming in after Asquith-Heinz finished in two bunches, typically an encouraging sign. Teammates who stay together during races often can push each other, including past competing runners.
It’s also encouraging that the girls posted times not far behind ones by Craig’s girls at last year’s state championship. Craig got by Haines last year to finish third at the Southeast regional championship. The regional championship’s top three teams advance to state.
The Haines boys finished only three points behind second-place Sitka and 15 points behind Mount Edgecumbe, the two fastest small school teams in the run.
Senior Corey Piper led Glacier Bears, finishing seventh in 19:26. Other Haines finishers included senior Patrick Henderson (10th, 19:55), senior Chris Olsen (13th, 20:10), sophomore Keegan Sundberg (30th, 21:24), freshman Neil Little (31st, 21:24), junior Kai Sato-Franks (34th, 21:39), senior Brandon Bachman (40th, 22:03), junior Isaac Wing (46th, 22:31), junior Chevy Fowler (54th, 24:05), junior Justin Swinton (56th, 24:12), freshman Matthew Green (59th, 24:49), senior Zach Rossman (62nd, 25:49) and junior Zeke Frank (66th, 27:08).
At this point in the season, Haines has seen all the teams it will race against at regionals, though perhaps not yet all the runners, coach Cassidy said. Hoonah and Thorne Bay have new teams this year, he said.