JDHS alums find success and fun on college trails

McKenna, Davies, Ellefson-Carnes all compete for NCAA schools

Cross-country running continues to connect and inspire three former Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaat.at Kalé teammates.

Over the last two seasons, Tim McKenna, Ronan Davies and Arne Ellefson-Carnes have all joined college running programs: McKenna at Whitman College, Davies at Willamette University and Arne Ellefson-Carnes at St. Olaf College.

The latter two each ran Saturday in regional meets. Davies placed 99th with a time of 29 minutes, 33 seconds at the NCAA Div. III West Region Championships in Claremont, California. Ellefson-Carnes placed 22nd with a time of 26:14 at the NCAA Div. III Central Region Championships in Waverly, Iowa.

Both meets were 8-kilometers in distance, a significant change from the 5K’s both ran last year as members of the Crimson Bears.

“It’s a lot different than a 5K,” Ellefson-Carnes said in an interview after the race. “Just coming to it before the season started I was like, ‘Oh, yeah, it’s only like 3K more.’ But 3K more, that’s like where the race happens is the last 3K.”

All three former teammates have spent time together this season. Davies and McKenna raced against one another twice, once at Willamette’s home invitational last month and a second time at the Northwest Conference Championships two weeks ago.

The Whitman men scored higher than Willamette both times, it’s not been a lack of effort on Davies’ part. The 2019 JDHS graduate finished in 27th place in the conference championship meet, posting a personal-best time of 26:52. McKenna crossed the finish line two minutes later for 64th. The conference championship meet took place at Fort Steilacoom Park near Tacoma, Washington.

Davies said the two don’t shy away from needling each other.

“There’s a very friendly rivalry I guess between the two of us,” Davies said. “There’s a kid from Petersburg that runs in our conference too, so we both made a goal of beating him.”

Though Davies and Ellefson-Carnes didn’t get to square off, the former teammates did race on Sept. 21 in the same town. Davies’ Bearcats competed in the Carleton Invitational (Running of the Cows) just two miles across town from where Ellefson-Carnes raced in the St. Olaf Invitational. The two connected with each other at Willmette’s hotel afterward.

“They were running a different race right across town, so that was kind of a bummer I didn’t get to race against Arne, but that would’ve been really cool.”

Both runners reflected positively on their first college season.

“When you have a good team pack that helps so much,” Ellefson-Carnes said. “Today I was hanging on with some of our other top guys and it was just great to be pulled and then help pull people along. It’s just kind of a good feedback loop.”

Davies said he was afraid he didn’t prepare himself well enough over the summer. He said he only trained for a few weeks this summer because most of his summer was spent crab fishing.

“So I didn’t think I was going to have a very good season because of that,” he said. “I was just happy I made a lot of money fishing and then I got here and it was a whole lot of fun. I wasn’t as far back behind as I thought. I definitely had some catching up to do but it’s been great.”

The NCAA Div. III National Championships take place next Saturday in Louisville, Kentucky. The top two teams from all eight NCAA regions plus 16 additional teams selected by the NCAA committee will take part. Ellefson-Carnes is optimistic the Oles will receive an at-large bid after finishing third in Saturday’s meet.

“Last year we got fourth at regionals and barely made it to Nats and this year we kind of knew that third place was going to guarantee us nationals and fourth place is kind of iffy,” Ellefson-Carnes said. “So we were just really trying to get third.”

• Contact sports reporter Nolin Ainsworth at 523-2272 or nainsworth@juneauempire.com.