Haines cross-country teams rich in rookies will face the biggest test of their seasons Saturday when they compete in the Southeast regional championship in Juneau.
Small schools’ races begin at 10:15 a.m. at Sandy Beach.
The boys’ and girls’ teams each must place at least third among small schools in the region to advance to state. Individual runners can qualify by being among the first 15 across the finish.
The squads each placed third among small schools at a meet Saturday in Ketchikan.
“Our runners knew they ran well (in Ketchikan) but they know they need to have their best race to go to state. We hope everybody’s feeling well and up to having their best day,” coach Liam Cassidy said this week.
In the girls’ race, Sitka didn’t field a full, five-person team and was missing its fastest runner last weekend. Mount Edgecumbe was the fastest team, followed by Petersburg.
“We’re pretty sure Sitka has five (runners),” Cassidy said. “We haven’t seen their full team all season. It’s super close. There’s five legitimate contenders for each of those three spots.”
Senior Jess Giddings said the expectation to up performances a notch isn’t lost to the team. “Everybody knows we have to work hard. Everybody’s nose is to the grindstone.”
Edgecumbe also won the boys’ race, followed by Sitka. Haines hasn’t seen the full Petersburg boys’ team this year. Craig, whose boy’s and girls’ teams each placed third at regionals last year, also must be watched, Cassidy said.
On the boys’ squad, senior Corey Piper is expected to lead Haines. He’s hoping to best his personal best time of 17:38. He was optimistic this week that the boys’ team could qualify for state. “There’s a good chance that we could make it, if we step it up a little bit.”
Haines boys finishing last weekend in Ketchikan included Corey Piper, (13th place, 18:00), sophomore Keegan Sundberg (25th, 18:33), senior Patrick Henderson (28th, 18:39), freshman Neil Little (43rdth, 19:16), senior Chris Olsen (44th, 19:16.5), junior Kai Sato-Franks (64th, 20:09), senior Brandon Bachman (70th, 20:19), senior Zach Rossman (72nd, 20:26), freshman Matthew Green (98th, 22:35), junior Chevy Fowler (108th, 23:50) and junior Zeke Frank (111th, 24:34).
Girls’ finishers include sophomore Zayla Asquith-Heinz (5th, 21:01), senior Jess Giddings (21st, 23:12), sophomore Natalia Taylor (43rd, 25:01), junior Libby Jacobson (45th, 25:09), junior Serena Badgley (49th, 25:21), senior Tia Heywood (56th:25:59), sophomore Jennie Humphrey (57th, 26:01), sophomore Celia Bower (62nd, 28:17), junior Isobel Smith (67th, 28:58).
Only seven runners from each squad can compete in the championship meet.