Colony High School’s Morgan Ainsworth sprints for the finish line against Chugiak High School’s Aaliyah Fields at the ASAA/First National Bank Alaska Cross Country State Running Championships in Palmer on Saturday. (Peter Pounds / Alaska Sports Report)

Colony High School’s Morgan Ainsworth sprints for the finish line against Chugiak High School’s Aaliyah Fields at the ASAA/First National Bank Alaska Cross Country State Running Championships in Palmer on Saturday. (Peter Pounds / Alaska Sports Report)

Juneau girls finish second at state D1 cross-country championships

Local boys team finishes fifth; three Juneau girls and one boy finish in top 10 individually.

The girls team for Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé took second place at the state Division I cross-country championships on Saturday in Palmer, with three individual runners finishing in the top 10.

The JDHS boys team finished fifth in the ASAA/First National Bank Alaska Cross-Country State Running Championships, with the top local individual runner placing 10th.

Both the boys and girls teams “were sort of primed for both of the teams to finish in the top few places at state” after dominating performances at the Region V Cross-Country Championships the previous weekend, JDHS co-coach Abby Jahn said in an interview Monday.

[JDHS, Sitka sweep region XC titles]

The girls archived that feat with 69 team points, trailing winner Chugiak High School’s 40 and just ahead of third-place Colony High School.

“Colony finished about three points behind us,” Jahn said. “And it really came down to our fourth and fifth runners there. They really came in clutch for the team and helped them secure that second place. And we had six of our girls finish in the top 30.”

Also, “that is the first time that us coaches can remember that we’ve had three runners finish in the top 10 at state, so that’s a pretty cool achievement,” she said.

Ida Meyer was the fastest girls finisher for JDHS on the 5K course, placing fifth with a time of 19 minutes and 41 seconds. Rayna Tuckwood finished ninth at 20:02 and Etta Eller 10th at 20:07.

The JDHS boys team finished fifth in the competition, with the top individual runner placing 10th, but Jahn said it was a close battle among the top schools.

“They finished fifth, but they were within 21 points of first place,” she said. “And what’s really cool about that is that if each boy in the top five scoring boys would have run just about five seconds faster they could have taken the championship, that’s how close it was.”

Edgar Vera Alvarado was the fastest boys finisher for JDHS with a time of 17:04. In an interview Monday, he said his focus was on the point total the team compiled rather than individual times.

“We were competing for top-three finishers as a team and I think that was mainly what was going through my head through the race,” he said. “I was just thinking one more spot for the team, this could be the point. I was hoping for a top-10 finish overall, which I did, but I wasn’t really focused on (how) I might finish as an individual.”

The heightened competition at state compared to last week’s regionals — which were held on JDHS’s home course along the Historic Treadwell Mine Trails — also meant being wise in running, such as not starting out too fast in an attempt to keep up with those at the front, Alvarado said. It also meant being aware of possible crowding and setbacks such as getting tripped up.

But for Alvarado, competing in his third state championship, the previous experience was an advantage.

“To be able to be successful in an environment like that it definitely takes a lot of experience and being able to adjust during the race,” he said.

While Alvarado and some other seniors will graduate from the boys and girls teams, Jahn said she’s optimistic about the prospects for next year.

“I think what’s really cool about this is the teams that we have right now is that we have a lot of depth,” she said. “So it’s not just through our seventh runner, it’s through the ninth runner or the 12th runner, just very strong and competitive teams. That’s pretty cool. So I think we’re going to see some runners kind of stepping up here that are freshmen and sophomores and juniors into these varsity roles here next year, for both the boys and the girls.”

D1 Girls Top-10 Finishers

1. Hannah Shaha, Chugiak, 19:19

2. Alliyah Fields, Chugiak, 19:26

3. Morgan Ainsworth, Colony, 19:27

4. Hailee Giacobbe, Wasilla, 19:34

5. Ida Meyer, Juneau-Douglas, 19:41

6. Tania Boonstra, Soldotna, 19:55

7. Ella Hopkins, Colony, 19:57

8. Miyana Kam-Magruder, Service, 20:01

9. Rayna Tuckwood, Juneau-Douglas, 20:02

10. Etta Eller, Juneau-Douglas, 20:07

1. Fischer Adams, Palmer, 16:00

2. Tobias Buchanan, Colony, 16:43

3. Blake Hanley, West Anchorage, 16:49

4. Elias Litzow, Kodiak, 16:50

5. Blaise Boyer, South Anchorage, 16:57

6. Jarrett Jackson, Dimond, 16:59

7. Owen Hayes, Chugiak, 17:00

8. Vebjørn Flagstad, South Anchorage, 17:01

9. Elias Oswald, Service, 17:03

10. Edgar Vera Alvarado, Juneau-Douglas, 17:04

• Contact Mark Sabbatini at mark.sabbatini@juneauempire.com or (907) 957-2306.

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