Wolves’ Walsh claims third straight runner-up finish at Region IV meet
Emily Walsh is as consistent as they come.
The Eagle River junior claimed her third straight runner-up finish at the Region IV Cross Country meet Saturday, clocking a time of 18 minutes, 31 seconds — one second faster than she ran in last year’s race and one second slower than her personal best on the 5-kilometer course at Bartlett High.
“I’m very happy with it,” Walsh said after finishing 10 seconds behind South freshman Robyn Miller and 12 seconds ahead of Miller’s teammate, two-time defending Region IV champion Ava Earl.
Walsh said Earl led the race for the first four kilometers before Miller made her move, powering up “Separation Hill” with less than a kilometer to the finish line. Walsh couldn’t keep up with Miller, whose time of 18 minutes, 21 seconds was the fourth fastest in course history, but she was able to hold off Earl down the home stretch.
“We were kind of going back and forth for a while,” she said.
All three girls will be in the mix next week when the state meet returns to Bartlett, where two-time defending champion Kendall Kramer of West Valley will be the favorite. Also back will be Juneau’s Sadie Tuckwood, who won in 2016 and finished second last year. Kramer, Earl, Tuckwood and Walsh have each finished in the top four spots the past two years at state, with Walsh fourth in 2017 and third last year.
“I really like running with Sadie and Kendall and everyone,” Walsh said.
Miller’s emergence may have come as a surprise to some, but Walsh said the talented South freshman has been coming on strong all season.
“She kinda figured out what to do this race,” Walsh said.
Walsh’s strong finish helped the Eagle River girls finish fourth in the team standings, which qualifies the Wolves to state as a team. Claire Nelson finished 22nd for Eagle River, followed by Mary Goodwin (26th), Laura Ripp (27th), Kiara Sherman (29th) and Aurora Pennington (37th) and Amanda Michener (39th).
Chugiak’s Adrianna Proffitt finished seventh to lead the Mustangs to a third-place team finish and an automatic state berth, though the senior admitted she wasn’t at her best after suffering from an illness over the past couple weeks.
“It was a tough race,” she said.
As runners congratulated each other in the finish chute, athletes from rival teams mingled to trade hugs and stories from the trail. Proffitt said she enjoys the camaraderie of the races and said cross country athletes root each other on despite being in compeition against one another.
“A lot of heart was put out there by so many athletes today,” she said.
Breanna Day finished 15th for Chugiak, followed by Campbell Peterson (16th), Addison Capozzi (20th), Brooklynn Gould (25th), Autumn Thomas (30th) and Kiley Dennis (34th).
In the boys varsity race, Dimond’s Santiago “Sonny” Prosser won the championship on 15 minutes, 10 seconds to tie the second-fastest time run in course history. The course record holder, Prosser pulled away from Chugiak’s Hyrum Nelson midway through the race after the Chugiak senior tried to set the early pace.
“I tried my best,” said Nelson, who was sixth at regions last year.
Nelson said next week he may try a more conservative approach in order to have more left in the tank on the hilly Bartlett layout.
“I found out the hills aren’t really that forgiving,” said Nelson, who faded to third behind Prosser and Service’s Alexander Maurer, who was second in a blazing 15:37 — which now ranks as the sixth fastest boys time ever run at the course.
Nelson’s strong run helped Chugiak finish second in the team standings behind Dimond. The Mustangs’ Michael Earnhart was seventh for the second year in a row, with Jacob Lestina placing 10th and Will Gerlach 11th. The Mustangs also got a 23rd place finish from Mikey Connelly, with Max Beiergrohslein 28th and Calvin Brady 39th.
Chugiak head coach Brian Kruchoski said he was thrilled with his team’s performance after qualifying both teams to state.
“They did exactly what I was hoping for,” Kruchoski said.
Among the happiest runners Saturday was Eagle River senior Michael Olson, who came out of nowhere to finish eighth in the boys race and earn an individual berth at state by placing in the top 15. Olson was well back in the pack after the first kilometer, but steadily moved his way to the front by the end of the race.
“At the beginning I was one of the last people,” Olson said.
Olson said his goal all season has been to make it to the state championships, but never really thought he had a shot at the top 15 — much less the top 10 — at regions.
“I’m very happy,” he said. “I thought I’d be lucky to make state.”
Wolves coach Jacob Bera was beaming after watching Olson’s steady charge Saturday.
“He’s done that all season, his pacing is just so spot on and he doesn’t get phased by anything,” he said.
Olson will be joined at the state meet by teammate Will Michener, who punched his ticket with a 13th place finish in the boys race. The Wolves just missed out on an automatic team berth at state, finishing four points behind West. Steven Brissette was 29th for the Wolves, followed by Alex Carl in 30th, Josuha Baker in 36th, Colby Teller in 45th and Mark Shepherd in 46th.
Runners said they’re looking forward to next week, when the best of the best from across Alaska will again gather on the Bartlett trails. Eagle River’s Walsh said the final meet of the year is the one every runner circles on their calendar.
“I’m excited for it.”
Region IV Cross Country Championships
Saturday, Sept. 28, 2019
Team scores: 1) Dimond, 40; 2) Chugiak, 54; 3) Service, 74; 4) West, 112; 5) Eagle River, 116; 6) South, 117; 7) East, 182
1. Santiago Prosser; Dimond 15:10 2. Alexander Maurer; Service 15:37 3. Hyrum Nelson; Chugiak 15:54 4. Noah Hoefer; Dimond 16:05 5. Kaleb Beloy; South Anchorage 16:08 6. Dallin Gardiner; Dimond 16:22 7. Michael Earnhart; Chugiak 16:24 8. Michael Olson; Eagle River 16:32 9. Isaac Dammeyer; West Anchorage 16:34 10. Jacob Lestina; Chugiak 16:40 11. Will Gerlach; Chugiak 16:42 12. Aaron Power; Service 16:46 13. Will Michener; Eagle River 16:46 14. Marty Rygh; Dimond 16:48 15. Peter Hinds; Dimond 16:50 16. Dakota Rygh; Service 16:58 17. Joel Power; Service 16:59 18. Tayson McKenzie; Dimond 17:00 19. Ethan Eski; West Anchorage 17:06 20. Ethan Howe; East Anchorage 17:10 21. Brady Burrough; South Anchorage 17:12 22. Max Johnsen; Dimond 17:13 23. Michael Connelly; Chugiak 17:14 24. Kelly Martin; West Anchorage 17:21 25. Aaron Maves; West Anchorage 17:27 26. Caleb Jacko; South Anchorage 17:30 27. Dylan Kearns; Service 17:31 28. Max Beiergrohslein; Chugiak 17:32 29. Steven Brissette; Eagle River 17:36 30. Alex Carl; Eagle River 17:40 31. Mitchell Guyer; Service 17:41 32. Ben Fischer; South Anchorage 17:43 33. Simon Keffalos; South Anchorage 17:45 34. Kyle Fischer; South Anchorage 17:46 35. Diego Jenkins; West Anchorage 17:54 36. Joshua Baker; Eagle River 17:58 37. Tommy King; East Anchorage 17:59 38. Isaac Main; West Anchorage 18:01 39. Calvin Brady; Chugiak 18:01 40. Ater Deng; East Anchorage 18:06 41. Solomon Shepherd; West Anchorage 18:08 42. Liam Albertson; East Anchorage 18:08 43. Luke Howe; East Anchorage 18:16 44. Jamie Rush; South Anchorage 18:34 45. Colby Teller; Eagle River 18:51 46. Mark Shepherd; Eagle River 19:01 47. Will Sanchez; East Anchorage 19:37
Team scores: 1) South, 36; 2) Service, 49; 3) Chugiak, 83; 4) Eagle River, 106; 5) West, 117; 6) Dimond, 126
Individual results:1. Robyn Miller; South Anchorage 18:21 2. Emily Walsh; Eagle River 18:31 3. Ava Earl; South Anchorage 18:43 4. Tatum Witter; Service 18:55 5. Lucy Young; South Anchorage 18:56 6. Nowelle Spencer; Service 19:09 7. Adrianna Proffitt; Chugiak 19:19 8. Marit Flora; Service 19:26 9. Mary Reinbold; Dimond 19:29 10. Meredith Schwartz; Service 19:32 11. Payton Smith; West Anchorage 19:35 12. Delainey Zock; Dimond 19:35 13. Elliana Zock; South Anchorage 19:40 14. Nancy Biegel; South Anchorage 19:40 15. Breanna Day; Chugiak 19:48 16. Campbell Peterson; Chugiak 19:52 17. Lily Slatonbarker; West Anchorage 19:53 18. Elizabeth Novakovich; South Anchorage 20:02 19. Grainne Rogacki; South Anchorage 20:03 20. Addison Capozzi; Chugiak 20:06 21. Zoe Chang; Service 20:07 22. Claire Nelson; Eagle River 20:14 23. Kelsey Johannes; West Anchorage 20:23 24. Zoe Witter; Service 20:24 25. Brooklynn Gould; Chugiak 20:25 26. Mary Goodwin; Eagle River 20:34 27. Laura Ripp; Eagle River 20:38 28. Brooklyn Adams-Sherbahn; Service 20:38 29. Kiara Sherman; Eagle River 20:38 30. Autumn Thomas; Chugiak 20:53 31. Frida Vargas; West Anchorage 20:57 32. Maria Cvancara; Dimond 21:01 33. Michelle Graeber; Dimond 21:06 34. Kiley Dennis; Chugiak 21:15 35. Ryann Dorris; West Anchorage 21:22 36. Annika Colberg; West Anchorage 21:30 37. Aurora Pennington; Eagle River 21:41 38. Lily Pannkuk; West Anchorage 21:58 39. Amanda Michener; Eagle River 22:03 40. Emily Erickson; Dimond 22:04 41. Liz Engle; Dimond 22:12 42. Madeline Troxell; Dimond 22:13