Chilkat Valley News - Serving Haines and Klukwan, Alaska since 1966


Fans turn out to cheer cross-country runners


Haines High School cross-country runners opened their season Sept. 7 in front of a home crowd at the Southeast Alaska State Fairgrounds.

“A lot of parents and even just people from around town came out to cheer them on,” said coach Tara Bicknell. “The whole stretch – that sprint toward the end – was packed with people cheering. It was just the way you want it, because that gives runners that extra energy to sprint to the finish.”

In overall team scoring, the Haines boys trailed Thunder Mountain, Mount Edgecumbe, Juneau-Douglas and Skagway. The meet also drew entrants from Gustavus, Hoonah and Yakutat. The Haines girls were fourth, behind Thunder Mountain, Mount Edgecumbe and Juneau-Douglas.

Early season point tallies, though, are a bit chaotic, as several athletes were designated as running “unattached.” One of those runners was Glacier Bear Keegan Sundberg, a junior who finished seventh in the boys’ race with a time of 16:55.

“They’re required to have 10 practices before they can compete, so ‘unattached’ just means they were running for a time (but) they can’t be scored,” Bicknell said. “He still ran the fastest race of all of our boys.”

The five Haines boys who factored in team scoring were sophomore Neil Little, 14th place in 17:39; senior Kai Sato-Franks, 25th in 18:33; senior Chevy Fowler, 42nd in 19:50; sophomore Zane Durr, 49th in 21:18; and senior James Morgan, 63rd in 23:31.

“It took me by surprise, how impressive it was to watch the team run,” said first-year coach Bicknell. “I didn’t see that coming, how much fun it would be to watch them after I’ve been practicing with them and working on training with them, to actually see them run a race and do those things that we’ve been working on.”

Haines senior Zeke Frank was 35th and freshmen Dawson Evenden and Charlie Bower were 43rd and 44th, respectively, as unattached runners like Sundberg.

Cole Johnson of Mount Edgecumbe led the boys’ field of 68 runners, posting a time of 15:43.

“Every course is so different,” Bicknell said. “We tracked it as exactly 3.1 (miles), but the times, compared to their last times, seemed to be quick, so I think it was actually shorter.”

Returning state qualifier Zayla Asquith-Heinz, a junior, paced the Haines girls with a 10th-place finish in 21:43. She was followed by senior Libby Jacobson, 18th in 22:27; senior Serena Badgley, 20th in 22:40; sophomore Jenae Larson, 28th in 24:04; and freshman Shaye Otton, 31st in 25:39. Seniors Rebekah Green and Isobel Smith and junior Celia Bower also ran for the Glacier Bears.

Maddie Hall of Thunder Mountain turned in the top girls’ time of 17:24. Forty-two girls completed the course.

“We battled a little wind and a little rain, but sometimes when you’re running, rain can be kind of refreshing,” Bicknell said. “The kids didn’t seem to mind.”

Volunteers helped with trail work and set up to prepare for the meet.

“We did get a lot of great comments on the course, and it was a fun course,” Bicknell said. “It had hills, it had some neighborhood, it went by the disc golf course, a little trail running, and then a good sprint at the end, right through the fair, which everybody loves.”

The team next heads to Wrangell for a meet this weekend.