Lance Westing might have been the most popular person at Fort Abercrombie State Historical Park Friday evening.

Nearly every few minutes, the Kotzebue cross country coach stopped and started a conversation with a different person.

They weren’t necessarily asking about his runners, but more about him.

Westing is a 1994 Kodiak High School graduate and former cross country, track and basketball athlete.

He student taught for the Kodiak Island Borough School District and became friends with Kodiak cross country Marcus Dunbar.

“We kept in contact and last year he tried to get us to come, but we had already filled out our schedule,” Westing said.

Kotzebue was able to fit a trip to the Emerald Isle in its schedule this year, marking a homecoming for Westing.

“This is a phenomenal spot,” Westing said. “Marcus has done so much with the program that I don’t think I can even find my times on the all-time list anymore.”

Westing has the 22nd quickest Kodiak time on the 5-kilometer Fort Abercrombie course at 17 minutes, 36 seconds.

This is Westing’s fifth year teaching at Kotzebue and fourth season with the cross country team. He also coaches basketball. He brought a young team of 14 to the Kodiak Invitational.

“It is completely different than Kodiak,” Westing said. “Growing up I kind of thought there couldn’t possibly be any place cooler than Kodiak, but I have lived in three different spots and they are all cool in their own way.”

Other alumni

Dylan Anthony had a great start to his 2012 University of Alaska Anchorage cross country season Saturday.

Anthony, a 2010 Kodiak High School graduate, placed second at the Hawaii Pacific Invitational in Hawaii.

Anthony, a sophomore, covered the 5-kilometer course in 15 minutes, 42 seconds, as the Seawolves swept the first six spots.

Freshman Jaymi Bethea, a 2011 Kodiak grad, placed eighth (19:06) for the UAA women.

UAA runs at the Hawaii Big Wave Invitational on Sept. 8.

Mirror writer Derek Clarkston can be reached via email at sports@kodiakdailymirror.com.

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