BSSD runners compete at State XC Championships
Runners woke to gorgeous weather on State XC Championship day at the Bartlett trail in Anchorage. Hundreds of brightly colored uniforms milled around dozens of canopies and tents as the time for the first starting gun neared. Warm-up runs, stretching and last minute hydration helped calm the nerves of the young athletes about to compete against each other in the final races of the season.
The Bering Strait runners were short one runner – girls champion Rani Campbell of Gambell didn’t get out due to travel issues. The two remaining girls had previous experience on the state course as did two of the three boys so there wouldn’t be the shock that a state championship course and race can bring. The BSSD runners don’t get the weekly experience of hilly courses and physical play of these races and can get derailed.
The “pop” of the starting gun sent the more than 150 runners away with a warm sun on their backs. The elite runners surged to the front with a lot of bumping and grinding in the middle. The BSSD runners found a comfortable pace and looked good through the first lap of the race. The top finishers blazed across the finish line with the rest of the field stretched out over a kilometer of trail.
Felicia Ione of White Mountain crossed in 26 mins 26 secs and LouAnn Niksik of St. Michael followed in 27 mins 18 secs. Both seniors, this would be their last high school race.
With the trail now well worn and still a little slick and muddy from recent rains the boys left in a flurry of spike-thrown mud and dirt. After the initial scrum of elbows to get position the large field spread out and fell into rhythm.
BSSD champion Ed Kokeok of Shishmaref was in solid position early running in the middle of the pack but with good pace. Jacob Brouillette of Elim was running in his third state race and also looked comfortable. Jevon Annogiyuk of Savoonga settled further back as he adjusted to the much more aggressive environment.
At the finish Kokeok finished in a state personal record of 20:37. Brouillette put on his patented kick at the finish and finished his final state race at 21:52. Annogiyuk got a good feel for the race and completed his first state race at 22:23.