Cross

Derek Clarkston/Kodiak Daily Mirror

ACS’ Blake Bennett runs between a Grace Christian runner, left, and Kodiak’s Brenden Thompson during a high school cross country meet, Friday at Fort Abercrombie State Historical Park. 

A year ago, Anchorage Christian’s Blake Bennett ran to history at Fort Abercrombie State Historical Park by becoming the first visiting boy to win on Kodiak’s storied home cross country course in 13 years when he edged Kodiak’s Keith Osowski by two seconds. 

The Lions’ stud senior did it again on Friday. 

Bennett cracked the course’s all-time top-10 list in leading small-school power ACS to a convincing victory over Grace Christian, Kodiak and East Anchorage in the regular-season finale for all four teams. ACS finished with 38 points, Grace with 52, Kodiak with 59 and East with 65.  

Bennett, who runs with a white headband that keeps his blonde hair from obstructing his view, ran away from the field, finishing with a 5-kilometer time of 16 minutes, 24 seconds. His time — 35 seconds quicker than his winning time from last year — tied him with East Anchorage’s Seth Chappell (1998) for ninth all-time at The Fort. Trevor Dunbar, in town for the Miracle Mile, owns the course record in 15:20, set in 2008. Dunbar watched the last kilometer of the race.  

“I really love this course,” Bennett said. “The scenery is awesome, and with the trees it feels like another world.” 

Bennett, last year’s third-place finisher at the 123A state championships, went out conservative and turned on the afterburners with 1,500 meters left to finish ahead of teammate Tristian Merchant. ACS scored four runners in the top 10 to win for the second straight week — the Lions topped the eight-team field at the Wasilla Invitational, a meet Kodiak placed fourth in. 

ACS is getting things done with four freshmen on the varsity seven. 

 “We corral all their energy and keep them consistent in practice. They are super excited. It is nice to have a group of guys who all have the same goal … we try to make each other better every day,” said Bennett, who is looking at running in college next season.

Kodiak placed a pair of runners in the top 10 — senior Brenden Thompson was fifth in 17:13 and sophomore Braxton Gruner was 10th in 17:58.  

Both runners set personal bests on their home course, while Gruner, a rookie to cross country, finished under 18 minutes for the first time this season. 

“That was a big deal, breaking that barrier,” Kodiak veteran coach Marcus Dunbar said. “I know he can do it all the time, especially now that he has done it on this course.” 

Girls

ACS’ Tessa O’Hara knocked nearly a minute off her time from a year ago to cruise to victory in the girls’ race with a 20:28, good for 30th on The Fort’s all-time list.    

Grace Christian owned the race after that, possessing 10 of the next 12 runners to run away from the field with 28 points. Kodiak was second with 59 points, followed by ACS with 119 and East with 140. 

“They came in with big numbers and are a strong program; just really solid,” Dunbar said. “It is impressive.” 

Kodiak squeezed two runners in the top four with sophomore Carly Glover taking third in 21:43 and junior Maddie Christiansen fourth in 21:50. 

The two — the Bears’ top duo the entire season — ran similar races. 

“Very strong performances from both of them. They started smart and moved right up through the field to get good finishes. They worked together,” the coach said.

Kodiak competes at the Region III Championships on Saturday at Government Peak Trail near Hatcher Pass in Palmer.   

Girls

Team — 1. Grace, 28; 2. Kodiak, 49; 3. ACS, 76; 4. East Anchorage, 93

1. Tessa O’Hara, ACS, 20 minutes, 28 seconds; 2. Mazzy Jackson, Grace, 21:22; 3. Carly Glover, Kod, 21:44; 4. Maddie Christiansen, Kod, 21:50; 5. Anna McLaughlin, Grace, 21:54; 6. Charlee Demientieff, Grace, 22:09; 7. Laura Ellis, Grace, 22:12; 8. Grace Annett, Grace, 22:23; 9. Maddy Morgan, Grace, 22:37; 10. Kiah Widener, Grace, 22:50; 11. Tessa Binder, Grace, 23:15; 12. Amy Hatter, Grace, 23:28; 13. Michaella Schaffer, Grace, 23:31; 14. Mamie Johnson, East, 23:57; 15. Ashley Fuller, ACS, 24:08; 16. Chandra Christiansen, Kod, 24:13; 17. Ella Raisley, Kod, 24:14; 18. Abigail Beveridge, Grace, 24:33; 19. Katie Parnell, Kod, 24:40; 20. Sarah Hemstreet, East, 25:26; 21. Shalom Neff, Kod, 25:36; 22. Libbey Gionet, Grace, 23:59; 23. Mariah Cumplido, Kod, 26:22; 24. Elianna Kniegge, Grace, 26:25; 25. Hannah Villaroya, Kod, 26:33; 26. Naomi Daniher, Kod, 26:40; 27. River Limchantha, Kod, 26:58; 28. Anja Schweiger, Grace, 27:01; 29. Makenzie Hofacker, ACS, 27:07; 30. Lorraine Gregory, East, 27:33; 31. Valerie DeMarzo, Grace, 27:33; 32. Sarah Teuber, Kod, 27:38; 33. Annie Snow, Grace, 27:43; 34. Acacia Birbilas, Kod, 27:53; 35. Marissa Abston, Kod, 27:53; 36. Ji In Choi, ACS, 28:22; 37. Qaiana Fishel, East, 28:28; 38. Carlisa Wood, ACS, 29:19; 39. Aria Farris, East, 30:30; 40. Janah Gatpandan, ACS, 30:51; 41. Fallon Gleason, East, 30:55; 42. Liza Stephens, East, 36:06. 

Boys

Team — 1. ACS, 39; 2. Grace Christian, 52; 3. Kodiak, 59; 4. East Anchorage, 65

1. Blake Bennett, ACS, 16:24; 2. Tristian Merchant, ACS, 16:58; 3. Luke Fritzel, Grace, 17:11; 4. Zephan Ozturgut, East, 17:12; 5. Brenden Thompson, Kod, 17:14; 6. Gabe Martin, Grace, 17:28; 7. William Parks, ACS, 17:52; 8. Joshua Davis, ACS, 17:55; 9. Jaylon Miller, East, 17:56; 10. Braxton Gruner, Kod, 17:58; 11. Paul Winegeart, Kod, 18:09; 12. Luke Howe, East, 18:17; 13. Paul Kopp, Grace, 18:20; 14. Vincent Coverdell, Grace, 18:20; 15. Gabe Nummer, Kod, 18:20; 16. Erik Jones, Grace, 18:34; 17. Beck Haywood, East, 18:42; 18. Youji Seto, Kod, 18:44; 19. Levi Gionet, Grace, 18:46; 20. Kevin Leach, Grace, 18:52; 21. Kaleb Smith, ACS, 18:54; 22. Lars Hanson, Kod, 19:01; 23. Alex Wuerth, Grace, 19:05; 24. Ahmed Salih, East, 19:11; 25. Riley Birbilas, Kod, 19:11; 26. Joseph Curry, East, 19:12; 27. Warren Metzger, Grace, 19:19; 28. Tobias Robinson, ACS, 19:20; 29. Seth Kniegge, Grace, 19:28; 30. Keith Bruce, Kod, 19:31; 31. Cole Fritzel, Grace, 19:43; 32. Rafael Bitanga, Kod, 19:48; 33. Luke Schaezlein, Grace, 19:48; 34. Colt Hubert, Kod, 19:52; 35. Noah Blackmon, Kod, 20:02; 36. Ethan LaCroix, Kod, 20:02; 37. Duke Minnery, Grace, 20:07; 38. Hunter Desota-Finn, ACS, 20:16; 39. Andrew McNab, East, 20:25; 40. Jonathan Whitt, Crace, 20:31; 41. Josh Nummer, Kod, 20:34; 42. Jackson Roberts, Kod, 20:36; 43. Aiden Gannon, Grace, 20:38; 44. Zackery Sharp, ACS, 20:41; 45. Josiah Overbeek, Kod, 20:43; 46. Josh McGovern, Grace, 20:46; 47. Tristen Klier, Kod, 20:49; 48. Malachi Joseph, Grace, 20:50; 49. Joshua Alonzo, Kod, 20:51; 50. Michael Kuentzel, Grace, 21:08; 51. Andrew Hamm, East, 21:10; 52. Eli Griffin, Kod, 21:10; 53. Evan Bockman, Grace, 21:25; 54. Lachlan Gerrety, East, 21:29; 55. Brad Burns, ACS, 21:41; 56. Nathan Shields, Grace, 21:42; 57. Wyatte Ricks, Grace, 21:42; 58. Will Wallace, Grace, 21:43; 59. Cole Scott, Kod, 21:45; 60. Caleb Bell, East, 22:07; 61. Eliot Merriner, Grace, 22:09; 62. Josiah Gilia, East, 22:16; 63. Dale Spann, East, 22:25; 64. Richard Godsey, Kod, 22:29; 65. Matthew Wald, Kod, 22:44; 66. Will Sanchez, East, 23:02; 67. Ethan Smith, East, 23:22; 68. Jackson Veeh, East, 24:17; 69. Elias McGhee, Grace, 24:26; 70. Niko Noga, East, 24:36; 71. Edward Hazelton, East, 24:40; 72. Dylan Harris, Grace, 24:54; 73. Luke Hofacker, ACS, 25:06; 74. Gareth Jones, Kod, 25:24; 75. Jude Merriner, Grace, 25:34; 76. Ben Hamscher, East, 25:49; 77. Korey Hayner, ACS, 26:04; 78. Caleb Griffin, Kod, 27:22; 79. Austin Corbit, East, 27:31; 80. Solomon Himelbloom, Kod, 28:54; 81. Jonathan Gates, East, 29:20. 

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