By Caroleine James
Wrangell Sentinel 

Wolves raced in Sitka against largest field yet


September 20, 2023 | View PDF

Caroleine James

Wrangell runners (in the center of the photo, from left) Jackson Powers, Boomchain Loucks and Keegan Hanson were among the more than 240 cross-country racers from 16 high schools who competed at the Sitka Invitational on Saturday, Sept. 16.

The Wrangell Wolves competed in the Sitka Invitational on Saturday, Sept. 16 - their largest cross-country meet before regional and state championships, with more than 240 competitors from 16 high schools.

Sophomore Boomchain Loucks came in seventh overall and first in the Wrangell boys team, with a time of 17:08.9 - only a fraction of a second away from his personal record. Senior Keegan Hanson was close behind in ninth place overall with a time of 17:14.4.

After Hanson, 12 runners finished within less than 20 seconds of each other, and junior Daniel Harrison was right behind this group, with a time of 17:59.9 - seconds from the season record he set Sept. 9.

Sophomore Ian Nelson ran 18:42.3 at his first meet of the year and Jackson Powers rounded out the boys team top five at 19:32.9.

Jackson Carney, Cooper Powers and Trevyn Gillen also represented Wrangell at the meet.

On the girls team, freshman Alana Harrison came in 15th with a time of 22:47.3 - almost a minute faster than her first race of the season Sept. 2. Her performance was "great in a field of really competitive runners like Grace Christian (Anchorage school) and the Sitka girls," said coach Mason Villarma. "(It's) pretty incredible, as a freshman, to compete at that level."

Freshman Kalee Herman placed 45th at 25:38.4.

The boys team placed sixth overall; the girls team did not have enough runners to make it to the board. As one of the largest teams at the meet, Juneau-Douglas High School: Kalé took home first-place team honors in the boys and girls races.

Though Wrangell's times were slower, on average, than they were at the Wrangell Invitational Sept. 9, the team is "still putting in a lot of volume, a lot of miles," said Villarma. As regionals and state approach, the team will "taper," or cut mileage at its practices to focus on speed.

None of the runners on the boys team have completed the 5K in under 17 minutes yet, but Villarma hopes that the Ketchikan meet on Saturday, Sept. 23, will provide that opportunity. "It's always a fast course," he said, "and we typically PR (personal record) there."

The Southeast regional championship is set for Sept. 30 in Juneau.


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