There will be a state championship cross country meet in October. It’s just going to look different than previous editions.
But in 2020, nothing is normal.
Last week, the Alaska School Activities Association voted on what the championship meet will look like during a pandemic at its board meeting.
No team titles will be awarded, and only individual awards will be on the line when the meet takes place Oct. 10 at Bartlett High School.
There will also be fewer participants to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. In Division I, only 36 runners in both the boys and girls races will vie for individual crowns.
Region 3 — Kodiak’s region — is awarded 10 berths, while Region 4 — the Cook Inlet Conference — will send 16 to state. Region 5 and 6 each get six berths.
Each region will determine how those berths will be divvied out.
Kodiak coach Ashley Mortenson doesn’t love the idea of full teams not advancing to state and also noted there are ways to still have safe starts to races that involve more participants. She said ASAA could look at doing wave starts as they do for cross country skiing.
But, in the end, she will take whatever ASAA deals out.
“A state championship with 30 people is better than nothing,” Kodiak coach Ashley Mortenson said.
The Region III Championships is slated to be in Soldotna the first week of October. However, with the Mat-Su Borough School District allowing only in-district competition through Oct. 14, Colony, Wasilla and Palmer would not be allowed to travel to the Kenai Peninsula.
That would end up making the championship meet a duel between Kodiak and Soldotna.
The travel ban for Kodiak high sports teams runs through September.
“I’m not sure how it is going to work out,” Kodiak coach Ashley Mortenson said. “I wonder if the Valley schools will be allowed to leave the borough for the sake of a championship meet. We just really don’t know ... I just really wonder how everything is going to play out in the end.”
In the meantime, Kodiak continues to stage time trials to stay competitive. The team raced at Bear Valley Golf Course on Saturday after competing at Fort Abercrombie State Historical Park twice and Pillar Mountain once this season.
Mortenson said changing the scenery and terrain is important since traveling to off-island courses is not permitted. Kodiak offers an endless supply of training grounds.
“With a young team, exposing them to as many race varieties as possible so when we finally race off-island, they are not totally blown away by a course that is really different than Abercrombie,” Mortenson said.
Leading the boys in Saturday’s run was junior Micah Fields, who returned to the team this week after spending the summer fishing at Harvester Island on the West Coast of Kodiak Island.
He covered the 5-kilometer course in 17 minutes, 40 seconds — 52 seconds ahead of runner-up Christian Harver.
Fields is Kodiak’s top returner from last season, placing third in the 2019 Region III junior varsity race.
“He showed up for workouts ready to go and his race time today was fantastic,” Mortenson said. “Christian is thrilled to have another training buddy.”
Freshman Max Robinson placed third in 19:18. Robinson is doubling up on sports, also spending time in the water with the swimming team.
In the girls’ race, junior Naomi Griffin topped the field in 22:43, finishing nearly a minute ahead of last week’s winner Kalani Gilbert.
Freshmen Cassidy Foster and Abigail Harver were third and fourth.
“We have a lot of freshmen, so we are just seeing so much growth,” Mortenson said.
Runners made three perimeter loops around the golf course, a different layout than from the regional course held in 2005 and 2014 at Bear Valley.
1. Micah Fields, 17 minutes, 40 seconds; 2. Christian Harver, 18:32; 3. Max Robinson, 19:18; 4. Elmar Barroga, 19:25; 5. Elias Litzow, 19:33; 6. David Castro, 19:34; 7. Isaiah Panthin, 19:53; 8. Jacob Sarnowski, 19:54; 9. Benjamin Powers, 19:58; 10. Bengt Anderson, 19:58.1; 11. Jackson Roberts, 20:20; 12. Aidan Buschbacher, 22:05; 13. Makoto Seto, 23:44; 14. Theron Glover, 26:09; 15. Jed Overbeek, 26:19; 16. Richmon Incognito, 26:23; 17. Tristian Creelman, 26:52; 18. Noah Schrof, 27:04.
1. Joseph Hathaway, 19:35; 2. Joshua Hathaway, 19:54.
1. Naomi Griffin, 22:43; 2. Kailani Gilbert, 23:37; 3. Cassidy Foster, 24:35; 4. Abigail Harver, 24:44; 5. Elizabeth Parnell, 24:50; 6. Hannah Asbury, 26:13; 7. Malina Fagan, 26:15; 8. Alyssa Prevatt, 27:15; 9. Allison Smith, 27:28; 10. Leah Winegeart, 28:31; 11. Sara Scott, 29:02; 12. Esther Overbeek, 30:19; 13. Emma Christiansen, 32:18; 14. Emily Lorring, 33:19.