CIC Cross Country Running Meet Sept. 24

Ezra Dan, Reporter

On a cold fall day at Bartlett High last Saturday, the West Anchorage High School boys dominated and won all three 5K races in the Cook Inlet Conference cross-country championships: the open, the JV, and the varsity.

The JV boys did something very special, taking the first seven spots with all seven runners. West also took home team victories in the girls open and JV 5K races with Chugiak High School winning the varsity girls race. This was the last meet before the state cross-country championships on October 1st.

The first race of the day, the girls open 5K, West won handily. The first five runners were all from West: Alejandra Legate, Morgan Congilio, Hannah Malone, Amber Draayer, and Kaitlyn Backman. After that the West boys won their open race by 40 points with Eli McKenzie and Jules Dan placing first and third. McKenzie said, “I wanted to get out conservative and pick up the pace as I went.” McKenzie had been a JV runner until this meet and expected a first place result. “I had a pretty good idea [I’d get first]. But I didn’t know for sure,” he said. West had seven runners finish in the top 10.

In the girls JV race, West’s Lily Slatonbarker finished first leading the girls to a 40-point win over Dimond High. Chugiak freshman Lindsey Gerlach finished four seconds behind Slatonbarker and three West runners finished 3rd, 5th, and 6th.

It wasn’t the biggest race of the day, but the boys JV race was the most impressive and exciting victory of the day for the West Eagles. Joaquin Monterrossa led the West boys with a time of 17:07 and four seconds later Brycen Lynch placed second. Daniel Bausch set a personal record with a 17:14 time and junior Sam York placed 4th three seconds later. Seniors Ryan Bickford and Brian Britt finished two seconds apart for 5th and 6th while freshman Cole Jones recorded a personal record of 17:42 and placed 7th overall.

The next race happened to be the varsity 5K race for the girls. West’s Molly Gellert, a junior, paced the group finishing first with a time of 19:15. Service’s Grace Fahrney was hot on her trail with a personal best of 19:23. West’s Aubrey LeClair was 10th in the race. “I was hoping for top 20, so I was pretty happy with 10th [place],” the sophomore commented.

Gellert’s effort wasn’t enough for the girls to take home the team win as Chugiak won with three runners in the top 10. Service placed second while West got third and was followed up by Dimond and Eagle River. LeClair thinks the West girls had a great race. “We did pretty good especially considering not everybody’s been here the whole season. There’s been a lot of races where people have been sick or injured,” she said.

The West boys followed up their perfect JV victory with another stellar performance in the varsity race. Service’s Gus Schumacher won the race with a time of 15:41, 19 seconds ahead of next best runner, West senior Finn Walker. South’s Hamish Wolfe finished just a second behind Walker for third place, then West’s Declan Dammeyer and South freshman Santiago Prosser were good for 4th and 5th. After that West swept the 7th through 10th places with Luke Jager, Foster Birnbaum, Tristan Wiese, and Ethan Davis.  It was good enough to win the team title by a 32-point margin. Wiese had a strategy for success before Saturday’s race. “I started out really slow, going at about a 19-minute pace. After 1K I decided to really pick it up and I just started passing people and passing people,” he said. Service and South rounded out the top three teams in the race.

The biggest meet of the cross country season is coming up on October 1st. Along with trying to defend the team title, Wiese has extra individual motivation. “I’m hoping to go under 16:20 so I can make it on the top 20 all-time list [for the Bartlett course]. I think it’s doable. I’m hoping to stay top 10 in the state,” Wiese said.