Boys cross-country team wins state championship; Loucks takes first

The Wrangell Wolves cross-country team braved near-freezing temperatures and stiff competition to take home their second state championship title in a row in Palmer on Saturday, Oct. 7. The boys team won the Division III title, and though the girls did not have enough runners to score for Wrangell, the two girls team members finished the season strong.

Sophomore Boomchain Loucks took first place out of the 80 runners in the boys race, with a time of 17:28.0. He maintained a substantial lead throughout. "At 1K, he was over 100 meters ahead of the chase pack," observed coach Mason Villarma.

"I knew I had to bring it all home," Loucks said after the win. "I had to grind for it. It felt amazing to cross the finish line, being first."

His goals for his high school running career are to "win it the next year and win it the next year too. Three in a row." As a junior, he's hoping to run the 5K in less than 16:30 and as a senior, break 16:00. That time would place him above Alaska's current Division I top finisher, senior Fischer Adams from Palmer, who logged the fastest time at state this year - 16:00.7.

Senior Keegan Hanson finished second in the Division III race at 18:12.6. "While I know he wanted to win just as bad as Boom, he had a great season," said Villarma. He was the only team member to finish the race in under 17 minutes this season and beat Loucks at meets in Wrangell and Ketchikan.

Junior Daniel Harrison took fifth at 18:24.0, putting three Wrangell runners in the top five. Harrison was "a leader I could count on this season," said Villarma. "I'm always impressed by his maturity and ability to overcome adversity."

Sophomore Ian Nelson was the team's next finisher, taking 12th place with a time of 19:11.4. Freshman Jackson Carney placed 19th at 19:49.0 and sophomore Jackson Powers placed 22nd at 20:00.9. Freshman Everett Meissner placed 51st at 21:24.8.

Of the underclassmen runners, Villarma was particularly impressed by Carney's performance. "He scored multiple times this year for us as a freshman," he said. "He's got that dog in him. He's going to find a way to make things happen."

Overall, the Wrangell boys won by the widest margin of all six races at the state championships for the three divisions, with a 44-point gap between them and the Cordova team, who finished second in Division III. Petersburg was close behind in third place.

Because of the boys' competitive showing, coach Mason Villarma is considering moving Wrangell cross-country to Division II next year, which would put the team in competition with Grace Christian High School in Anchorage and Sitka High School. Both teams have runners who can complete the 5K in under 17 minutes.

The girls team "was small this year, but showed a lot of progress," Villarma continued.

Freshman Alana Harrison was Wrangell's top finisher, taking eighth place out of the 86 runners in her division with a time of 23:18.5. Next year, she plans to push her limits as a runner and "leave it all out there" when she becomes a sophomore, though she doesn't yet have any specific time goals in mind.

Harrison's performance has been "pretty incredible" for a freshman season, Villarma said in a previous interview. Only one other freshman finished ahead of her at state.

Sophomore Kalee Herman placed 32nd overall with a time of 25:52.4. Herman's performance was "consistent for us all year," Villarma said. "Another year of growth, and she'll be a top eight performer at state."

Dillingham, Kake and Craig finished in first, second and third in the Division III girls competition.


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