Enduring midnight solo workouts while fishing on the west side of Kodiak Island this summer paid off for Micah Fields.
Despite only competing on The Rock during the regular season, Fields ended as one of the top runners in the state by placing 10th in the Skinny Raven Alaska Team XC Championship Saturday at Kincaid Park in Anchorage.
After training all summer at his family’s fishing site on Harvester Island, the Kodiak junior entered this unusual pandemic season with the goal of clocking a 5-kilometer time of under 17 minutes. Finally getting a chance to attack a fast course, he achieved his goal, finishing in 16:43.
“I heard my time afterward, and it didn’t really seem real to me until an hour after, then I started to think about it and realized that I actually did well,” Fields said. “It just felt so nice to work towards that goal and have that goal achieved.”
Fields was one of six Kodiak runners who competed on Saturday. Christan Harver placed 61st (18:10) in the boys’ race, while, in the girls’ race, Kailani Gilbert was 40th (21:17), Naomi Griffin 45th (21:23), Cassidy Foster 65th (22:30) and Allison Smith 71st (25:15).
Fields, Harver, Gilbert and Griffin all qualified for the Division I state championship meet, but the school district imposed COVID-19 travel restrictions kept them out of that event, which was also held Saturday at Kincaid Park.
Instead, the group went to Anchorage independently to compete in an invitational, created by the Anchorage School District for high school runners who could not run in one of the six state races. The results from every race on Saturday were meshed together to create the Skinny Raven Alaska Team XC Championship.
Fields’ time placed him 10th out of 84 competitors. He was the top Region III finisher.
“We will be naming him unofficial Region III champion, for the purpose of our record keeping in our cross country book,” Kodiak coach Ashley Mortenson wrote in a text message.
Anchorage Christian senior Tristian Merchant — winner of the Division II race — topped the Skinny Raven results with a time of 14:51. Division I champion Alexander Maurer of Service was second in 15:24.
Fields won the invitational, running in front for the final 4 kilometers of the race. Having not faced off-island competition this season, Fields was expecting to be in a pack of runners for the first time, but that wasn’t the case. Instead, he set the pace.
“About halfway through the first kilometer, the pace everybody else was setting wasn’t what I wanted to run — I was feeling good,” Fields said. “I broke away from the pack about halfway through the first kilometer and didn’t see anybody else for the other four and a half kilometers.”
Because of travel restrictions, Kodiak runners had only competed against each other leading up to Saturday’s race. Beginning in August, the team held time trials throughout the season at Fort Abercrombie, Bear Valley Golf Course and the Kodiak Island Raceway.
“The course was just hilly enough that Abercrombie gave me good training for it,” Fields said. “That helped me stand out a little bit.”
Fields said he was thankful to have gotten the opportunity to run — he and Harver went to Anchorage with the Griffin family. He said he was hesitant about going to the meet, but changed his mind when asked by the Griffins.
“I said yes, and I’m so glad I did. They have been extremely charitable and accommodating,” Fields said.
In the girls’ results, West Valley’s Naomi Bailey won the Division I race in 17:56, Kenai’s Jayna Boonstra won the Division II race in 19:37 and Newhalen’s Aileen Lester grabbed the Division III win in 21:10.8.
Gilbert and Griffin battled all season long on The Rock, and that was the case again on Saturday as the two runners were only separated by five seconds.
Skinny Raven Alaska Team XC Championship
Boys (top 10)
1. Tristian Merchant, ACS, 14 minutes, 51 seconds; 2. Alexander Maurer, Service, 15:24; 3. Michael Earnhart, 15:51; 4. Daniel Abramowicz, Fairbanks, 16:01; 5. Tim Degener, Juneau, 16:12; 6. David Sliwinski, Grace, 16:33; 7. Jacob Lestina, Chugiak, 16:33; 8. Aaron Power, Service, 16:37; 9. Ty Elliott, Grace, 16:40; 10. Micah Fields, Kodiak, 16:43.
Other Kodiak finishers: 63. Christian Harver, 18:10.
1. Naomi Bailey, Fairbanks, 17:56; 2. Ava Earl, South, 18:32; 3. Delainey Zock, Dimond, 18:54; 4. Tatum Witter, Service, 19:07; 5. Emily Erickson, Dimond, 19:13; 6. Nowelle Spencer, Service, 19:17; 7. Robyn Miller, South, 19:19; 8. Gloria Bailey, Fairbanks, 19:20; 9. Meredith Schwartz, Service, 19:23; 10. Skyler Belmear, Chugiak, 19:38.
Kodiak finishers: 40. Kailani Gilbert, 21:17; 45. Naomi Griffin, 21:23; 71. Allison Smith, 25:15.