ains the same: the Glacier Bears are ready to run.

The season opener usually takes place out of town and features competition from across Southeast. This year, the Glacier Bears will start the season running on their home course, racing a small group of community members and teammates.

Team captain Lydia Andriesen has been running since March. “I am grateful to have one more season in Haines with our awesome team and positive atmosphere.”

Andriesen has steadily worked her way up the pack over the course of her career, earning a spot on last year’s state championship squad. “We won state last year and I believe we can do it again, given the chance. Our team is only getting stronger and, with our new coach Jordan Baumgartner, I think we can all do very well this year and have fun along the way—staying ‘happy and healthy’ as (former coach) Chandler (Kemp) would say.”

Like his predecessor, Baumgartner competed in cross-country in college. In recent years, he established a middle school program as well a community running program. He said he’s fired up about his team of 23 runners. “This team is fast. But more so they are a positive group with a great work ethic. They are an excellent representation of our town and so much fun to work with.”

Baumgartner is assisted by coaches Katie Dickerson and Ben Bard, the leaders of the summer workout program affectionately named “Torture Town,” which many of the athletes on the team attended regularly. Andriesen is a committed citizen of Torture Town. “I think it’s going to have a big impact on our team, especially when it comes to injury prevention.”

Baumgartner said that the team has been training with the hope of competing in some races and potentially competing in a regional meet. The Alaska School Activities Association has scheduled its state championship meet for Oct. 10 at Bartlett High School in Anchorage, but even if that event takes place, it is unclear which schools would be able to attend. Region V, which encompasses all of the schools in Southeast, is only allowing races in which athletes can leave home, compete and return home in the same day.

Andriesen still feels like her team can have a great season. “I know this sport is like a tester to see if school sports can happen this year and it’s a great one to test because all of our practices can be outside and distanced.”

No matter what the future holds, she said she sees the value in what she and her teammates are doing. “Cross country is a team sport, but it is also very much an individual sport, so whether we can compete or not, we are constantly in competition with ourselves and our previous times.”

Any community members who want to run with the Glacier Bears on Saturday, Aug. 22 should be in contact with Baumgartner ([email protected]) or activities director Lynzee Swinton ([email protected]) before the day of the race. Up to 10 community members will be allowed to compete in each the boys’ and girls’ races. The girls race at 1 p.m. and the boys at 1:45 p.m. Participants will be screened upon arrival. They must wear a facemask prior to the race when unable to maintain 6 feet of distance. They will line up for the race wearing a mask and can remove it once the race begins. There will be no handshakes before or after the race or sharing of water bottles. All volunteers will be masked and gloved. Spectators over age 5 must be masked and should stand 6 feet from everyone but their family.

The following Saturday, Aug. 29, the Glacier Bears will be hosting their annual fundraiser event, a community adventure race up 7 Mile Saddle and into town.