Cross country team splits up to cover more ground

The Wrangell High School cross country team attended two different competitions last Saturday by sending five runners to Palmer and five to Petersburg.

Five boys attended the George Plumley Cross Country Invitational in Palmer, while three boys and two girls went to Petersburg to compete in the Jack Eddy Invitational against runners from Sitka, Ketchikan, Haines, Klawock, Juneau, Craig, Angoon and Petersburg.

In Palmer, the Wrangell boys varsity team was Daniel Harrison, Devlyn Campbell, Ethan Blatchley, Boomchain Loucks and Ian Nelson. They ran against teams from Wasilla, Chugiak, Lathrop, Service, Kodiak, Homer, Juneau, Anchorage, Palmer and others, coming in 12th overall.

Harrison was the fastest of the team, finishing at 17:41.49, 20th out of 180. Campbell finished 52nd with a time of 18:35.05, while Blatchley finished a few places behind him at 56th with a time of 18:42.41. Loucks was 66th with a time of 18:52.81, and Nelson placed 136th at 20:47.35.

According to assistant coach Mason Villarma, who traveled with the boys varsity team to Palmer, Harrison's first kilometer was 3:02, which equals a 15:10 5k pace. Had he kept up that per-kilometer time, he would have beaten out first-place finisher Seamus McDonough of Homer, who turned in a time of 16:11.71.

"With the course being a bit weathered after five races prior to the men's, the conditions of the course were not ideal," Villarma wrote in an email. "The men battled the course but were eventually worn down from the muddy and slippery conditions. The team all finished a bit slower than their team time trial the weekend prior, but they gained important race experience."

Villarma said he believes the team is "on the cusp of having a really great (maybe historic) season."

He said, "We beat some pretty big programs including Palmer, Wasilla, East Anchorage, Kenai and Bethel. Wrangell High has about 60 enrolled in the high school, Palmer has closer to 900 students."

In Petersburg, where the weather was more hospitable, runners turned in comparable times to their teammates in Palmer. Head coach Kayla Rooney traveled with the other half of the team there.

Elias Decker finished 20th overall and first out of his teammates in the boys competition, finishing with a time of 19:46.53. Randy Churchill came in 25th overall and second on the team with a time of 20:08.17, while Jackson Powers finished 29th out of 71 runners and third on the team with a time of 20:26.71.

In the girls competition, Mia Wiederspohn finished 39th out of 56 runners with a time of 27:30.12, and teammate Miranda Ridgeway finished 51st with a time of 31:07.03.

The team is scheduled to travel to Ketchikan this weekend to compete in the Ketchikan Invitational on Saturday.


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