Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé’s varsity girls cross-country team attempts a jumping photo after winning the second place title at state meet over the weekend, hosted in Anchorage by Bartlett High School. (Courtesy / Christy Newell)

Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé’s varsity girls cross-country team attempts a jumping photo after winning the second place title at state meet over the weekend, hosted in Anchorage by Bartlett High School. (Courtesy / Christy Newell)

Local cross-country teams bring the heat despite the cold at state meet

JDHS girls end the season with a second-place team finish

Juneau’s high school cross-country teams wrapped up their season with some top finishes at the state meet over the weekend, hosted in Anchorage by Bartlett High School.

Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé’s varsity girls team snagged second place with Etta Eller and Ida Meyer earning top-10 positions and the JDHS boys took fifth place, with their sixth-place runner acting as a tiebreaker. Thunder Mountain High School did not field full teams but had nine individual qualifiers who competed in the races. Anchorage’s Chugiak High School girls team took the top team spot for the women’s state race, and Palmer’s Colony High School boys team took home the men’s race state title.

Tristan Knutson-Lombardo, co-coach for the JDHS cross-country team, said both the teams performed “stellar” and said it was a great way to round out another successful season for JDHS.

[Lacing up: Local cross country teams prep to host the largest race in Southeast Alaska this weekend]

“Our goals going into the state was for the girls to get second and the boys to get fifth and we accomplished our goals,” Knutson-Lombardo said. “It feels good to walk away knowing you did what you needed to do and were successful.”

Knutson-Lombardo said JDHS has a long history of being successful on the state level, and said that legacy is a motivation for the runners each year.

“The girls collectively set their sights on that second place and really moved as a team to take that on,” he said. “It was really cool to see the boys’ team come together at the end of the season too and do something that maybe didn’t seem possible at the beginning of the season.”

Knutson-Lombardo said he’s already excited for next year’s season and the potential the racers have built from his season. There were no graduating seniors on the girls varsity team this year, which he said is exciting to have all the racers coming back. However, the boys’ team will be saying goodbye to two graduating varsity runners, Kona Atkins (JDHS’s top boys’ finisher) and Eli Crupi.

Merry Ellefson, co-coach for the JDHS cross-country team, said she is “extremely proud” of how both JDHS performed as well as the other cross-country teams from Southeast Alaska.

“Southeast rocked this meet, and I’m just really, really proud to be a part of of a region that cares about athletes and that focus on the great parts of running,” she said. “It was really powerful and I was really privileged to be there this year with our amazing team.”

This race also marked the last race Ellefson will be coaching for the JDHS cross-country team, as she is stepping away from the position after more than two decades.

Jon Stearns, the co-head coach of TMHS cross country team, said the nine individual racers who qualified from TMHS performed very well, and said the five individual girls even managed to place as a team despite not qualifying as one in regionals.

They did awesome,” he said. “They really crushed it.”

He said it was all four boys’ and five girls’ first time competing at the state level which he said was daunting, but everyone ended up running close to 30 seconds of their season bests, which he said is quite difficult to do.

He described the course as “extremely taxing” and hilly but he said the runners still kept a good pace.

Stearns said he’s “stoked” about how the season went and said it was great to have TMHS runners compete alongside other Southeast Alaska teams that qualified.

“Us here in Southeast, we have an amazing community and it’s really cool for people to see that extends outside Southeast Alaska,” he said. “It’s a celebration as much as it is a culmination of the season.”

• Contact reporter Clarise Larson at clarise.larson@juneauempire.com or (651)-528-1807. Follow her on Twitter at @clariselarson.

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