Three Gruening girls crack the top 10 at City’s

Mirror Lake takes second in sixth-grade/seventh-grade race


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Gruening Middle School seventh-grader Victoria Stewart nears the bottom of a hill at the ASD City middle school cross-country running championships at Kincaid Park on Thursday, Oct. 6. Stewart finished seventh overall for the Colts, whose seventh grade girls team was fourth out of 12 middle schools entered in the event.

STAR PHOTO BY MIKE NESPER

Gruening Middle School had three eighth-grade girls in the top 10 at the Anchorage School District middle school cross-country running championships on Thursday, Oct. 6 at Kincaid Park. Gruening finished fourth as a team, just 10 points behind first-place Mears, which also won the sixth-grade/seventh-grade team title.

Emmie Jennings led the Colts with a time of 12 minutes, 24 seconds on the nearly 2-mile-long course to finish fifth. Julia Geskey placed eighth, followed by Dreanna Ownes in ninth.

“That was great,” Geskey said of three Colts cracking the top 10. “The two years I’ve been here that never happened.”

Wendler’s Morgan Flynn edged out Darby Judd of Mears by one second to win the race in 12:04.

Gruening’s practice all season paid off with the solid showing, Geskey said.

“It shows we’ve been training really hard through the year,” she said. “Our team did really great.”

Owens said Geskey and Jennings typically pace each other, but she was able to hang with them at Kincaid and finished eight seconds behind Geskey.

“This is the closest place I’ve ever been to them,” she said.

Geskey said having Jennings leading her and Owens nipping at her heels pushed her the entire race.

“They’re on your team but you still have a rivalry with them,” she said.

Owens said she ran all-out in her final race as a middle-schooler.

“Just do your hardest. Push yourself,” she said.

Jennings agreed.

“This is the last race of the season, so I need to give my all,” she said.

The hilly course took mental toughness to power through, Jennings said.

“It was a hard course. The whole thing was hills,” she said. “It was kind of overwhelming.”

While other runners’ paces fluctuated, Jennings said remaining steady was a key to her success.

“I want to go out in a speed I can keep the whole race,” she said.

Sara Hartke’s sixth-place finish led Mirror Lake, which also finished sixth as a team.

“I pushed my hardest,” Hartke said. “I don’t think I could have done any better.”

Mirror Lake head coach Jerry Sather was pleased with Hartke’s race.

“We were hoping she’d be in the top 10,” he said. “I’m very happy with her.”

The steep elevation at Mirror Lake’s trails gave its runners an advantage at Kincaid, Hartke said.

“I think that helped us,” she said. “We’re used to the hills.”

In the sixth-grade/seventh-grade race, three Mirror Lake runners (Peyton Young, Brynn Kruchoski and Emma Nelson) cracked the top 10 to earn the Coyotes second place as a team — just two points behind champion Mears.

Young took sixth in 12:30, 20 seconds behind winner Isbel Evans of Goldenview. Kruchoski and Nelson finished ninth and 10th respectively.

Veronica Stewart finished seventh in 12:37 to lead fourth-place Gruening. The tough competition made breaking into the top 10 a great accomplishment, Stewart said.

“I was happy because there was a lot of fast people,” she said. “My strategy was to go as fast as I can uphill and do long strides downhill.”

And it worked.

“That’s how I passed most of the girls,” Stewart said. Stewart said her positive attitude during the race keyed her success.

“I just thought in my head the whole race I’d get in the top 10,” she said. “Usually, when I have happy thoughts, I accomplish my goals.”

 

Contact Mike Nesper at 694-2727 or mike.nesper@alaskastar.com

 

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