Crimson Bears Chasing Kings at Region V Cross-Country Championships

    Members of the Juneau-Douglas Kalé Region V cross-country team.

    Juneau, Alaska (KINY) - The Juneau-Douglas Kalé cross-country team has chosen their top 14 harriers, seven girls and seven boys, to challenge for the Region V Championships at Ketchikan, Saturday, and extend their title streak to, respectively, eight in a row for girls - 41 of the past 44 region championships - and 32 in a row for boys - 45 of 48.

      “What we are looking for at Regions is a stair-step to state,” JDHS co-coach Merry Eleffson said. “So we are talking about strategy that will help us close the gap with our top runners as we prepare for the next week which they are all ready for as they utilize their brains just as they have been utilizing their bodies. So we are looking forward to some really great teamwork out there.”

      Crimson Bears sophomore Etta Ellers will be the lead runner for the girls.

      “For this regions race I am going to try and just focus on staying positive throughout the race and pushing myself,” Ellers said. “As a team I am just going to try and work with my teammates to try and pick off the people in front of us to have the lowest team score as possible.”

       Sophomore Rayna Tuckwood is in the two spot.

      “Something I will do is get good sleep, eat good, push myself and work as hard as I can,” Tuckwood said. “Then to work together and run together, just run my race.”

       Senior Annika Schwartz is third on the scoring list followed by senior McKenna McNutt, senior Ella Goldstein, freshman Ida Meyer and senior Trinity Jackson. Alternates are sophomore Maisy Morley and senior Celia Wheeler.

      “Individually for regions I think I have to really focus on my race and concentrate and really push myself,” Schwartz said. “And as a team I think just running together and just remembering that we are all doing this together and at the same time.”

      The Crimson Bears boys number one runner is senior Aubrey Hekkers.

      “What we need to do individually, and this might sound like a team thing, but what we need to do individually is race for our teammates,” Hekkers said.

      Junior Will Robinson is in the number two scoring spot.

      “I definitely need to race for my teammates,” Robinson said. “And also just have fun. Not get to worked up about it. As a team we need to really race for each other, run in some packs, and just win.”

       Junior Eli Crupi runs in the third spot, followed by sophomore Martin Holst, sophomore Edgar Vera Alvarado, senior Sam Holst and senior Tias Carney. Alternates are freshman Josh Reed and sophomore Wilder Dillingham.

      “I think individually we need to take the time to understand the course,” Martin Holst said. “And find our strengths on the course. As a team I feel pack running would really help improve our overall score.”

      JDHS co-coach Tristan Knutson-Lombardo wants the runners to think past individual accomplishment.

      “Individually, we actually want them to move away from the individual,” he said. “And think about how their impact, or their race, how that fits into the greater good or bigger whole. The work for this weekend is to realize they are a team. A strong solid team as we stair-step into state.”

      Added Merry Eleffson, “We talked a little bit about the word synergy this week. What they can do individually is nothing compared to the sum of when they are together. So not thinking of the individual is our goal right now, utilizing their pack work and pace work to think like a team.”

      The Region V Championships are at Ketchikan’s Ward Lake course.

      The Division I are 4A schools JDHS, TMHS and Ketchikan. The Division II are 3A schools Sitka and Mt. Edgecumbe. They will race together but be scored separately in their divisions for state qualifying.

      The boys race at 9 a.m. and the girls at 9:35 a.m.

      For DI, the top 12 individuals and all members of the top scoring team qualify for state. In DII, the top 10 individuals and all members of the top scoring team qualify.

      In 2020, due to the coronavirus pandemic, ASAA held the region xc championship as an individual sport and six were qualified for state. Thunder Mountain’s Kiah Dihle, then a junior, won regions for the DI girls and Ketchikan’s Mickey Lapinski, then a junior, won the boys DI region title but did not go to state. Unofficially JDHS won both girls and boys teams scores.

      For the JDHS girls Schwartz qualified for state last year and placed 17th, along with R. Tuckwood 21st and McNutt 24th (then sophomore Skylar Tuckwood placed 16th, then freshman Iris White 18th).

      In 2019 Schwartz qualified and placed 24th, Trinity Jackson 54th and McNutt 65th (then senior Sadie Tuckwood 2nd, fr. Skylar Tuckwood 16th, sr. Anna Iverson 21st, sr. Katherine McKenna 27th).

      In 2018 JDHS took state. Jackson qualified and placed 25th, Schwartz 26th and McNutt 52nd (then jr. Sadie Tuckwood 2nd, jr. Iverson 12th, jr. McKenna 17th, so. Jasmin Holst 10th).

      For the boys Crupi qualified for state last season and placed 27th, along with Hekkers 29th, S. Holst 36th and Robinson 38th (then senior Tim Degener placed 4th and Finn Morley 14th).

      In 2019 Robinson placed 40th at state, S. Holst 47th and Hekkers 54th. (Morley 9th, Degener 12th, Ambrose Bucy 21st, Koby Goldstein 34th).

    Unofficially, JDHS has won 41 of the past 44 girls large school region titles (TMHS won in 2012 and 13, Haines in 1980 when all schools were combined) and 44 of the past 46 boys titles (Sitka won in 1983 and 1989 when in large school, Ketchikan in 1973 and Mt. Edgecumbe from 1963-72 when all were combined).

      The Division III schools are 2A schools Craig, Haines, Metlakatla and Petersburg and 1A schools Angoon, Gustavus, Hoonah, Klawock, Klukwan, Pelican, Skagway, Thorne Bay, Wrangell and Yakutat. They all race together for state qualifying.

      The DIII boys race at 10:15 a.m. and DIII girls at 10:55 a.m.

      For DIII, the top 15 individuals and top three scoring teams qualify for state.

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