DEREK CLARKSTON/Kodiak Daily Mirror

Kodiak’s Malina Fagan competes in a cross country race at the Kodiak Island Raceway earlier this season. 

Because of a change in the Alaska Marine Highway schedule, Kodiak cross country will not be hosting Grace Christian Friday at Fort Abercrombie State Historical Park. 

That meet will now take place Sept. 20 at The Fort. 

Kodiak coach Ashley Mortenson said the change benefits her runners. 

“We actually preferred that weekend because it is the week before regions and a perfect night for Senior Night,” she said. “It worked in both of our favors; we were happy to make the switch.” 

The bonus: Colony might attend the meet as well, according to Mortenson. 

Instead of running at home this weekend, Kodiak will be competing in Anchorage at the New Balance XC Classic. 

The classic is a 3-kilometer flight race at Russian Jack Springs Golf Course. 

“It’s totally different than the kind of thing we normally do,” Mortenson said. 

Mortenson said teams’ top four runners compete in one race, while the bottom four compete in another race. 

“Your fifth runner has a chance to push for a win — that is a fun format,” she said.

The last time Kodiak competed at this event was in 2014, which is also the last year the Bears won the boys 4A state title.  

Mortenson was an assistant coach on that banner-winning team and remembered having to forgo several off-island races that season because of inclement weather. She said the runners were glad to make the New Balance race. 

Earlier this season, Kodiak could not travel to the Bartlett State Preview Meet because of inclement weather.      

“Us getting out of meets (because of weather) has boded well for our end-of-season performances,” Mortenson said. “We are never too bummed about it.” 

Kodiak runners did miss out on a chance to see the state course, which will be held at Bartlett High School Oct. 5. 

She is hoping to get a training run on the Bartlett course Friday before the New Balance meet. 

The Bears competed last week at the Palmer Invitational, where several runners clocked personal-best times, including senior Braxton Gruner and junior Connor Marbrey. Kodiak’s top two boys both dipped under 17 minutes for the first time — Gruner at 16 minutes, 51.94 seconds (13th place) and Marbrey at 16:57.14 (16th).

The coach was impressed with the output since her runners competed in a 3K race at Anchorage Christian School the day before the 5K race at Palmer. 

“There weren’t any other large-school teams that did ACS and Palmer,” she said. “The competition that we had on Saturday was a lot more fresh than we were.”  

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