The Big 8 Classic Cross Country Meet

The West varsity boys and Chugiak girls varsity claimed team titles

Ezra G. Dan, Reporter

The Big 8 Classic cross-country race on Saturday, September 17th, ended with Molly Gellert of West Anchorage High winning the girl’s varsity 5K race and Service’s Gus Schumacher winning the boys varsity race, with a 5K time of 16:02. The West High boys and Chugiak girls teams took team titles on Saturday.


In the boy’s varsity race, Schumacher beat the next runner, South’s Hamish Wolfe, by 35 seconds. The third fastest time went to West sophomore Ethan Davis who finished in 16:49. West also had Foster “Facebook” Birnbaum finishing 5th in the race and Tristan Wiese, Joaquin Monterossa, and Everett Cason finished 9th, 10th, and 11th, respectively. The West boys won the team title with 38 points and were followed up by South and Service who were tied for 2nd. “The course was really split into two parts. There was the first easy 2K, and a hard 3K after that. So I kept it easy on the first 2K, picked it up on the last 3K and passed a bunch of people,” Birnbaum said of the course.


In a decision made by coach Ruth Barndt, West’s three best runners ran in the boys open 5K race after missing the previous week’s meet, the New Balance XC Classic. “Our three best runners didn’t even race varsity. Since they missed the last meet they had to run open. But we still won by a long shot, that’s how strong our team is.” Finn Walker, Declan Dammeyer, Luke Jager, and Brian Britt all ran in the open race. Walker’s time would’ve been good for second in the varsity race while Dammeyer would’ve placed 3rd with his time. “We have a really good team this year. We won by like 20 points, crushed it. So yeah, we did pretty well,” Birnbaum said.


In the girls race, Gellert, the reigning state champion, cruised to a victory in 19 minutes, 19 seconds and beat the 2nd-best runner, South’s Maggie Meeds, by 43 seconds. The Chugiak girls won their team title with Emma Sees finishing 3rd in 20:06. Emma Nelson and Brynn Kruchoski of Chugiak finished 6th and 7th, both with a 20:33 time. Overall, Chugiak had 4 runners finish in the top 15. The second place team was Service with 60 points, followed up by West in third, Dimond, South, and Eagle River.


In the JV boy’s 5K, Eagle River’s Nick Carl and Carter Gladwill finished 1st and 2nd while Peyton Young of Eagle River won the JV girls 5K race. West’s Maggie York earned the open girls 5K individual victory, leading a 1-2-3 West finish with Tatiana Harris and Julia Johnson.


West’s coach Barndt teamed up with South head coach Sarah Miller to organize the race at Kincaid Park. Barndt wore many hats as race director at the meet. “I had to organize the entire race. It was everything from getting the start together with all of the school flags, getting the announcer there, getting Skinny Raven to record times at the end, the vendors, everything,” she said.


“This year it would be very tough to win [state], but it’s always a goal.” Gellert said of winning the state championship. The meet featured all eight teams from the Cook Inlet Conference: West, Service, South, Dimond, Eagle River, Chugiak, Bartlett, and East. With the biggest and best running schools at the meet, it was a good precursor for the regional meet and the state meet. “The [West] boys obviously have a really good chance of winning regions and state. The girls also have a chance to contend with Chugiak at regions too and finish top 3 at state,” Barndt said. Gellert has faith that the West girls team next year can do even better. “Next year we’re gonna get a lot of fast freshmen and definitely try to win state again.”