Runners race through the pain at final regular season XC meet of the season

Wednesday, October 3, 2018 - 10:22
  • Chugiak’s Daniel Bausch leads the field during the boys varsity race at the Big 8 XC Classic on Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018 at Kincaid Park in Anchorage. Bausch won the boys race. (Matt Tunseth/ADN)
  • Eagle River’s Emily Walsh, left, helps Chugiak’s Adrianna Proffitt after Proffitt crossed the finish line in third place behind Walsh and race winner Ava Earl of South in the girls varsity race at the Big 8 XC Classic cross country races on Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018 at Kincaid Park in Anchorage. (Star photo by Matt Tunseth)
  • Chugiak’s boys team celebrates after winning the team championship at the Big 8 XC Classic cross country races on Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018 at Kincaid Park in Anchorage. (Star photo by Matt Tunseth)
  • South’s Ava Earl crosses the finsih line after winning the girls varsity race at the Big 8 XC Classic cross country races on Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018 at Kincaid Park. (Matt Tunseth/ADN)
  • Chugiak’s Sophia Dedmor, left, Brooklynn Gould, center, and Breanna Day, right, lead a pack of runners down a hill during the girls varsity race at the Big 8 XC Classic cross country races on Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018 at Kincaid Park in Anchorage. (Star photo by Matt Tunseth)
  • A young fan signs a banner in honor of Kikkan Randall during the Big 8 XC Classic cross country races on Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018 at Kincaid Prk in Anchorage. (Matt Tunseth/ADN)
  • Kikkan Randall poses for a photo with athletes following the Big 8 XC Classic on Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018 at Kincaid Park in Anchorage. (Matt Tunseth/ADN)
  • Kikkan Randall presents the first-place team trophy to the Chugiak boys team Chugiak’s boys team at the Big 8 XC Classic cross country races on Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018 at Kincaid Park in Anchorage. (Star photo by Matt Tunseth)
  • Kikkan Randall holds up a banner given to her by athletes and coaches at the Big 8 XC Classic high school cross country races on Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018 at Kincaid Park. (Matt Tunseth/ADN)
  • Eagle River’s Claire Nelson, left, and Emily Walsh prepare to present a banner to Kikkan Randall following the Big 8 XC Classic cross country races on Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018 at Kincaid Park in Anchorage. (Star photo by Matt Tunseth)
  • Chugiak coach Brian Kruchoski cheers on an Eagle River runner during the boys junior varsity race at the Big 8 XC Classic cross country races on Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018 at Kincaid Park in Anchorage. (Star photo by Matt Tunseth)

Runners smiled and slogged through the sunshine Saturday at Kincaid Park, where the final regular-season cross country running race of the high school season gave athletes a chance to test themselves while in the midst of training.

“This race should have been their tiredest,” said Eagle River coach Jacob Bera, whose top athlete, Emily Walsh, finished second in the girls varsity race, two seconds behind South’s Ava Earl.

Bera and other coaches explained that runners have been piling on the mileage as of late, with the idea of tapering off in advance of the upcoming region and state meets, which will be contested over the next two weekends at Bartlett High.

“They should be peaking within the next couple weeks,” said Chugiak assistant Brian Kruchoski, who along with Mustangs assistant Melissa Hall filled in for head coach Cody Priest, who was busy placing second in the Equinox Marathon in Fairbanks Saturday.

Even when he’s not peaking, Chugiak’s top runner is still a force to be reckoned with. The Mustangs’ Daniel Bausch won the boys varsity race easily, going to the front and running away from a field that was without Dimond star Santiago Prosser.

“I wanted to make sure I got out to a lead early,” said Bausch, who won in 15 minutes, 31 seconds to outrace Service’s Alexander Maurer by 23 seconds despite battling leg cramps.

Bausch said he’s trying to manage his training in advance of several big races over the next couple months, including state and the Nike Northwest Regionals in November.

“That’s really my end goal,” he said.

Bausch’s victory led the Chugiak boys to a win in the team competition by the narrowest of margins as the Mustangs held off the Prosser-less Lynx by a single point.

Hyrum Nelson finished fifth for Chugiak, which also got a seventh-place finish from Michael Earnhart, who was followed by teammates Miles Dennis (15th) and Jacob Lestina (20th). The Eagle River boys were fifth, led by Carter Gladwill’s 12th place finish. Alex Carl finished 48th for the Wolves, with Nick Carl 50th, Gunnar Sackerson 51st and Jacob Heavener 55th.

West won the girls team title ahead of South and third-place Chugiak. Breanna Day finished 7th for the Mustangs, followed by Sophia Dedmore in 13th, Lindsey Gerlach in 24th and Brooklynn Gould in 40th. Laura Ripp finished 27th for the sixth-place Eagle River girls, followed by Mary Goodwin (29th), Skye Brabson (30th) and Courtney Jones-Brunner (31st).

While Bausch’s win was a runaway, Earl’s was anything but. She ran alongside Walsh and Chugiak’s Adrianna Proffitt for most of the race, pulling away in the final few hundred yards.

“She kicked harder than I did,” Walsh said.

The Wolves’ star said she’s looking forward to the next couple weeks of racing, though she wouldn’t make any predictions about the outcome.

“I guess we’ll see how it plays out,” she said. “God’s going to decide how well it goes, so I just look at regions and state as opportunities to glorify Him.”

Bera said he was pleased with his team’s performance despite the heavy training load of the past couple weeks.

“This was their hardest week of practice and to see this level of effort, I’m really happy with it,” he said.

The event also doubled as a way for athletes to show their support for Olympic gold medalist Kikkan Randall, who is battling breast cancer. The former region and state cross country running champion attended the race and was welcomed by athletes wearing her trademark pink on everything from ribbons (Bausch) to socks (Earl) to hair (Walsh). Chugiak’s coaching staff even wore pink “Chugiak (heart) Kikkan” t-shirts, and the Eagle River team brought a banner that read “Kikkanimal! YOU ARE STRONG-YOU ARE AWESOME-YOU ARE LOVED” for athletes and coaches to sign.

“Oh my gosh you guys, this is amazing,” said Olympic gold medalist Kikkan Randall, who planned to watch the race as a spectator but instead became the focal point of an emotional day of racing.

[VIDEO: Watch Randall thank the crowd at the Big 8 XC Classic]

Randall stuck around to present medals to all of the winners.

Bera said it was important to show Randall how important she is to Alaska’s young runners.

“We wanted to make a big show of support,” said Bera, whose team made a banner for athletes and coaches to sign in support of their hero.

Earl called Randall “an inspiration.”

“She’s just such a spirited person,” she said.

Eagle River’s Emily Walsh echoed those sentiments.

“She was my childhood hero,” said Walsh, who finished second in the varsity girls race.

Walsh lost a cousin to cancer, and said it was important for her to show support for Randall in her fight against the disease.

“I like to show support for her and for anyone who has cancer,” Walsh said.

Mustangs assistant Brian Kruchoski said the team wanted Randall to know just how much she means to local athletes.

“She’s looked up to so much by all of these kids,” Kruchowski said.

Randall was overcome by emotion during a brief speech to the assembled athletes and coaches after the race.

“I’ve been through a lot of challenges going for that Olympic gold and this is just my latest challenge,” she said. “And knowing you guys have got my back makes me feel stronger than ever.”

Randall vowed to continue advocating for healthy lifestyles and thanked the crowd for their support.

“You guys out doing your thing makes me feel strong, makes me feel happy and together we’re going to keep enjoying this amazing life we have,” she said. “So thank you so much!”

Email Star editor Matt Tunseth at [email protected] or call (907) 257-4274

Big 8 XC Classic

Saturday, Kincaid Park

Girls team scores

1) West 52, 2) South 56, 3) Chugiak 70, 4) Dimond 92, 5) Eagle River 95.

Boys team scores

1) Chugiak 48, 2) Dimond 49, 3) West 67, 4) South 92, 5) Service 109, 6) Eagle River 172, 7) East 199.


1. Ava Earl, South, 18:52; 2. Emily Walsh, Eagle River, 18:54; 3. Adrianna Proffitt, Chugiak, 19:01; 4. Tatum Witter, Service, 19:27; 5. Aubrey LeClair, West, 19:34; 6. Kylie Judd, Dimond, 20:01; 7. Breanna Day, Chugiak, 20:01; 8. Ivy Eski, West, 20:12; 9. Payton Smith, West, 20:16; 10. Natalie Hood, West, 20:18; 11. Zoey Chang, Service 20:25; 12. Elizabeth Novakovich, South, 20:25; 13. Sophia Dedmore, Chugiak, 20:25; 14. Nowelle Spencer, Service, 20:26; 15. Lucy Young, South, 20:27; 16. Abigail Robinson, South, 20:33; 17. Hannah Yi, West, 20:33; 18. Leola Atkinson, Bartlett, 20:40; 19. Ryann Dorris, West, 20:42; 20. Frida Vargas, West, 20:43; 21. Quincy Donley, West, 20:43; 22. Kelsey Johannes, West, 20:52; 23. Mary Reinbold, Dimond 20:52; 24. Lindsey Gerlach, Chugiak, 20:53; 25. Maria Cvancara, Dimond, 21:11; 26. Lindsey Western, South, 21:17; 27. Laura Ripp, Eagle River, 21:20; 28. Delainey Zock, Dimond, 21:30; 29. Mary Goodwin, Eagle River, 21:37; 30. Skye Brabson, Eagle River, 21:40; 31. Annika Colberg, West, 21:47; 32. Courtney Jones-Brunner, Eagle River 21:50; 33. Myah Smith, Eagle River, 21:51; 34. Nataya Lee, South, 21:55; 35. Julia Thomas, South, 21:57; 36. Kaley Fleming, Dimond, 21:59; 37. Lucille Longhurst, Eagle River, 22:04; 38. Annika Ostberg, Dimond, 22:06; 39. Nancy Biegel, South, 22:09; 40. Brooklynn Gould, Chugiak, 22:11; 41. Sophia Cvancara, Dimond, 22:18; 42. Amanda Michener, Eagle River, 22:23; 43. Dayl Tieszen, South, 22:24; 44. Riley Wilson, Eagle River, 22:28; 45. Grace Dunn, Chugiak, 22:30; 46. Maggie Keffalos, South, 22:38; 47. Avi Sorich, Service, 22:50; 48. Julia Szerszenski, Eagle River, 22:54; 49. Hannah Cryder, Chugiak 23:01; 50. Sydney Tusten, Chugiak, 23:20; 51. Kali Smedley, Chugiak 23:28; 52. Elissa Gruszynski, Chugiak, 23:31; 53. Hannah Farr, Eagle River, 24:01; 54. Paige Nelson, Chugiak, 24:25; 55. Amei Gove, East, 24:27; 56. Qaiana Fishel, East, 27:25; 57. Emily Parks, East, 27:39.


1. Daniel Bausch, Chugiak, 15:31; 2. Alexander Maurer, Service, 15:54; 3. Ethan Davis, West, 16:16; 4. Niko Latva-Kiskola, Dimond 16:21; 5. Hyrum Nelson, Chugiak 16:24; 6. Everett Cason, West, 16:24; 7. Michael Earnhart, Chugiak, 16:49; 8. Dallin Gardiner, Dimond 16:53; 9. Kaleb Beloy, South, 16:54; 10. Fred Rygh, Dimond 16:58; 11. George Cvancara, Dimond, 17:02; 12. Carter Gladwill, Eagle River 17:04; 13. Kai Meyers, South, 17:04; 14. Seth Chamberlain, South, 17:07; 15. Miles Dennis, Chugiak, 17:09; 16. Noah Hoefer, Dimond 17:11; 17. Eli Mckenzie, West, 17:12; 18. Isaac Dammeyer, West, 17:14; 19. Cameron Sheldon, Dimond, 17:21; 20. Jacob Lestina, Chugiak 17:23; 21. Max Beiergrohslein, Chugiak 17:24; 22. Mitchell Guyer, Service, 17:26; 23. Sebastian Reed, West, 17:35; 24. Spencer Putnam, South, 17:35; 25. Marty Rygh, Dimond 17:36; 26. Alvaro Gonzalez, Service 17:37; 27. Ben Post, West, 17:40; 28. Harrison Sturm, West, 17:43; 29. Dylan Kearns, Service, 17:45; 30. Skyler Parks, West, 17:46; 31. Kurtis Brumbaugh, Dimond, 17:46; 32. Jason Hlasny, Service, 17:46; 33. Will Gerlach, Chugiak 17:50; 34. Simon Keffalos, South, 17:58; 35. Matthew Ross, Service, 18:00; 36. Kai Caldwell, Service, 18:02; 37. Ahmed Salih, East, 18:03; 38. Noah Rygh, Dimond, 18:04; 39. Dastzeni Tibbits, Dimond, 18:07; 40. Beck Haywood, East, 18:08; 41. Quinn Smith, West, 18:12; 42. Jacob Belanger, Service, 18:12; 43. Porter Blei, Chugiak, 18:12; 44. Eli Seaver, West, 18:16; 45. Sebastian Gridley, Service, 18:19; 46. Joseph Curry, East, 18:20; 47. Jacob Kosinski, Chugiak, 18:21; 48. Alex Carl, Eagle River 18:22; 49. Michael Belmear, Chugiak, 18:26; 50. Nick Carl, Eagle River, 18:27; 51. Gunnar Sackerson, Eagle River, 18:31; 52. Isaac Lee, South, 18:41; 53. Torsten Renner, Chugiak, 18:44; 54. Grant Goodman, South, 18:45; 55. Jacob Heavener, Eagle River 18:50; 56. Aiden Schubert, South, 18:51; 57. Ben Fischer, South, 18:54; 58. Calvin Brady, Chugiak 18:54; 59. Luke Howe, East, 18:55; 60. Jaime Rush, South, 19:03; 61. Jack Debrecht-mowry, South, 19:07; 62. Mark Shepherd, Eagle River, 19:08; 63. Colby Teller, Eagle River, 19:27; 64. Caleb Gladwill, Eagle River, 19:27; 65. Curtis Bay, Eagle River, 19:31; 66. Tommy King, East, 19:36; 67. James Salter, Eagle River, 19:42; 68. Tayson McKenzie, Dimond 19:44; 69. Dylan West, Eagle River, 19:45; 70. Joshua Baker, Eagle River, 19:59; 71. Will Sanchez, East, 20:18; 72. Maxim Unruh, East, 21:24.

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