The state cross country meet is Saturday at Bartlett High School in Anchorage and the Region V champion Juneau-Douglas High School is ready.
The Division I girls race is at 12:45 p.m. and will pit JDHS against fellow region winners Palmer (Region III), Chugiak (Region IV) and West Valley (Region VI) as well as six other teams. The Division I boys race will follow at 2:15 p.m. and include region champions Palmer (Region III), Service (Region IV), JDHS (Region V) and West Valley (Region VI).
Junior Sadie Tuckwood will look to take back her state crown from West Valley’s Kendall Kramer. The two runners shared the same course three weeks ago at the Palmer Invitational, and both finished the 5-kilometer course in under 18:30, a feat two other runners in Alaska (Eagle River’s Emily Walsh and South Anchorage’s Ava Earl) have done this season.
“I’ve never seen so many girls running so fast and it’s pretty special to see,” JDHS co-coach Merry Ellefson said. “Even if we reflect back to the state 3200 (meter run at the state track meet) this spring. Kendall and Sadie were neck-and-neck. Kendall won, but they both popped into the top-10 ever finishes in the 3200.”
This is the quickest team Tuckwood’s been a part of over the last two seasons. Juniors Anna Iverson and Katie McKenna and freshmen Annika Schwartz and Trinity Jackson are all capable of running under 20:30.
The boys team is also a more competitive group this season. Arne Ellefson-Carnes is having his strongest season and so are Finn Morley, Clem Taylor-Roth, Ronan Davies and Ambrose Bucy. The latter four runners have set personal records this season in the neighborhood of 17:30, which Ellefson said puts them in the mix with the majority of the others runners in the meet.
“It’s really about getting those groups to work together with confidence that they’ve garnered from other choices that they’ve made throughout the year,” Ellefson said. “And we’re in a good place in terms of everyone being healthy.”
JDHS’ Koby Goldstein, Dalton Hoy, Jasmin Holst and McKenna McNutt will also be in the meet. Thunder Mountain High School’s Hannah Deer, Kiah Dihle and Tucker Kelly qualified as individuals.
• Contact sports reporter Nolin Ainsworth at 523-2272 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Empire Sports on Twitter at @akempiresports.