Haines High School’s cross-country teams were a bit short-handed at a meet in Juneau last weekend, on a course that may have seemed a bit longer than usual.
“This meet was all about that part of cross country that teaches perseverance, because they’re dealing with a cold going around the school, they’re dealing with a super-muddy, wet, cold course, and they all had to learn to push through it,” said coach Tara Bicknell.
Illness, travel and college entrance exams were among conflicts that depleted the Glacier Bears on a weekend several runners committed to competing in Juneau instead of participating in a home Drama, Debate and Forensics event.
Juniors Zayla Asquith-Heinz and Keegan Sundberg again led their respective squads. Both are contenders for state berths at the regional competition in Sitka this weekend. Sundberg was 13th for the boys in 17:47, and Asquith-Heinz placed 14th among girls in 21:59 on the Treadwell Mines trails at Sandy Beach.
The Haines boys were ninth out of 10 teams, besting Petersburg in a field that also included Juneau-Douglas, Ketchikan, Thunder Mountain, Sitka, Craig, Skagway, Wrangell and Mount Edgecumbe.
Sophomore Neil Little was 37th for the Glacier Bears in 19:15; senior Zeke Frank, 54th in 20:41; senior Chevy Fowler, 61st in 21:19; and freshman Dawson Evenden, 62nd in 21:26. Senior Kai Sato-Franks rolled an ankle on the course and did not finish.
“There was a giant mud field that they started on, and they headed out through some water collection areas in the grass,” Bicknell said. “We were all saying that they’re going to look like real cross-country runners after this.”
Senior Isaac Wing made his season debut following an injury, posting a time of 20:40 that edged Frank by a second, but Wing’s run didn’t count toward scoring since he hadn’t run a time trial, Bicknell said.
Freshmen Mori Hays and Charlie Bower and sophomore Zane Durr also competed for the Glacier Bears.
Only six girls ran at the meet for Haines, placing last in an eight-team field. Senior Libby Jacobson and freshman Shaye Otton, who both tallied points for Haines at the previous two meets, were among those unable to attend.
Despite the team scores and last-minute roster changes, Bicknell said she saw great improvement from the runners.
“The course was muddy and had some good hills in it, but the kids really did well on the hills, I think from all this hill work we’ve been doing,” she said. “Some of them said they felt a lot better on the hills, which was great to hear.”
Sophomore Jenae Larson was 48th in 25:09; junior Celia Bower, 58th in 27:09; senior Serena Badgley, 59th in 28:01; senior Rebekah Green, 62nd in 28:38; and senior Isobel Smith, 66th in 34:23.
“It was the last meet for at least a couple of our seniors,” Bicknell said. “They were really good leaders and role models, with their dedication and the responsibility they showed.”
Senior Smith has been on the team three years and said the sport helped build great friendships while helping to push herself and meet goals.
“The running’s the hard part, but the good thing is it doesn’t last long,” she said. Smith said she plans to keep running on her own after high school.
This weekend, select Glacier Bears will run in Sitka at the Region V meet.