In an effort to provide their standout junior with some competition that was absent in the first two meets of the season, the Juneau-Douglas High School cross country coaching staff inserted Sadie Tuckwood in a field of 75 boys runners at last weekend’s Skagway Invitational.
Running with the opposite sex, Tuckwood was forced to run in a pack for once, and she chased seven runners to the finish line on a grueling course that was likely several hundred meters long.
There would be no need to pull off a similar switcheroo at the Palmer Invitational on Saturday afternoon at the Mike Janacek Trails.
The girls field — which featured last year’s top team — contained runners that could keep up with Tuckwood, like the reigning state cross country champion, West Valley junior Kendall Kramer. While Kramer would take home the individual title with a winning time of 18 minutes, 3 seconds, Tuckwood and her teammates would secure the team title.
“She leads Southeast, she leads the state and today she led our team to this low score,” JDHS co-coach Merry Ellefson said of Tuckwood.
JDHS scored just 38 points — the same amount as West Valley — setting up a tiebreaker, which factors in the placing of the teams’ sixth runner, in this case, JDHS’ Jasmin Holst, and West Valley’s Gloria Bailey. Holst finished five spots in front of Bailey, giving the Crimson Bears the team title.
Holst said hearing the announcement of Tuckwood’s finish helped her finish out the race strong and pick off several runners.
Between Tuckwood (2nd, 18:14) and Holst (18th, 21:24), were junior Anna Iverson (4th, 19:53), junior Katie McKenna (7th 20:19) and freshmen Trinity Jackson (11th, 20:51) and Annika Schwartz (14th, 21:11).
Ellefson said she was particularly proud of how Jackson performed in the big meet. Jackson said she got a side cramp early on in the race, but the encouragement of her coaches and commitment to her teammates helped her along.
“If I didn’t push myself I felt like it would’ve been a lot harder on the team,” Jackson said.
The JDHS boys were led by senior Arne Ellefson-Carnes, who won first overall with a time of 16:28. The Crimson Bears came in second place behind West Valley, last year’s state runner-up. It was JDHS’ first meet of the season outside of Southeast, giving them a feel for the strengths of schools in outlying regions.
“It was really good to see that we’re a competitive team,” Ellefson-Carnes said.
Ellefson-Carnes gave kudos to senior Clem Taylor-Roth (12th, 17:27), sophomore Finn Morley (17th, 17:49) and junior Ambrose Bucy (18th, 17:49) for helping bring down the boys score to 68 points. At the same meet last season, JDHS scored 178 points and came in fifth place.
Also running for JDHS were Koby Goldstein (25th, 18:09) and Owen Squires (43rd, 18:55).
• Contact sports reporter Nolin Ainsworth at 523-2272 or email@example.com. Follow Empire Sports on Twitter at @akempiresports.