Seniors prepare for final Fort Abercrombie race

The start of the girls high school cross country race between Kodiak, West Valley, Skyview and Kotzebue on Aug. 31 at Fort Abercrombie State Historical Park.(Derek Clarkston photo)

Cole Christiansen’s fondest memory at Fort Abercrombie State Historical Park came during a cross country race his freshman year.

“The first time I got on varsity, outsprinting Brandon Gilbert,” said Christiansen, who finished 10th in that race.

Four years later, Christiansen is making his final home appearance on the grueling 5-kilometer Abercrombie course Friday in a dual meet against Grace Christian.

This time around, the senior has a different goal in mind.

“I’m going to try to win it,” said Christiansen, the winner of Kodiak’s only other home meet this season two weeks ago against West Valley.

Christiansen, the owner of the third quickest time at Fort Abercrombie (16 minutes, 2 seconds), is just one of 11 Kodiak seniors who will bid adieu to their home course.

The girls race begins at 5 p.m., followed by the boys at 5:45 p.m.

“Cross country has been such a big part of my life, so I am really looking forward to just having a good race,” senior captain Sarah Ng said.

Ng’s been a four-year varsity fixture for the girls team. Over her career, she has grown fond of her home course that weaves around trails and roads at Fort Abercrombie.

“It is an incredibly hilly course. Hardly any other course around the state have hills to the caliber of Abercrombie,” said Ng. “It is also such a beautiful course that you can enjoy running the race.”

Ng’s time of 20 minutes, 36 seconds in 2010 ranks eighth on the Kodiak girls’ all-time Fort Abercormbie list.

Fort Abercrombie is also the top cross country course in the state for senior captain McKenzie Barnett, who is 27th on the Abercrombie list at 21:47.

“It is a slow course compared to the rest of the state, but it is one of my favorite courses,” she said.

Barnett and Ng both said the course is an advantage for Kodiak because of the hills and narrow paths, an advantage the Bears will need to defeat 3A Grace Christian.

The Anchorage-based Grizzlies have defeated the Bears three times this season, including last week at the Palmer Invitational.

Kodiak beat West Valley two weeks ago in its only other home meet of the season, and Ng and Co. hope to duplicate that performance.

“I’m excited going into it, it gives us a lot of anticipation — it is our last home meet,” Barnett said.

The Kodiak boys are favored to defeat Grace, even without the services of sophomore Levi Fried, who is resting a sore hip this week.

“It is going to be competitive races on both the boys and girls side,” Kodiak coach Marcus Dunbar said.

Seniors Marley Wilkins, Shannon Armstrong, Julian McCarthy, Clayton Hannah, Elisha Fields, Zach Smith, Brandon Mahle and Aiden Ott will also be making their final home appearance.

“It is a special time for all the seniors, especially for the ones who have been here for four years,” Dunbar said. “They have a lot of history on the course.

“It is always a fun time of the year, but it is a sad time when the seniors are done.”

On Saturday, Kodiak and Grace will run a mile race on the new track surface at Joe Floyd Track and Field before the 2 p.m. start of Kodiak’s football game against Soldotna.

Contact Mirror writer Derek Clarkston at sports@kodiakdailymirror.com.

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