The wait is over. A Kodiak High School athletic event is happening.
Cross country hosts the team’s annual Alumni Run at 5 p.m. on Friday at Fort Abercrombie State Historical Park.
The 5-kilometer run — on one of the toughest running courses in the state — will be the first high school sporting event held on The Rock since the wrestling team’s alumni match on March 7. A week before that, the boys basketball team hosted Redington in a weekend set that honored the passing of island legend Joe Floyd. Floyd died at the age of 82 on Feb. 22.
“It is kind of hard to believe that it has really been since February,” Kodiak third-year cross country coach Ashley Mortenson said.
COVID-19 wiped out the end of the basketball season and all of the spring sports. Fall prep sports bounced back at the end of July, but island teams are only holding practices and community events until the school district deems it safe to travel and compete.
The fact that there is a race is encouraging for the island’s sports scene. Mortenson is viewing Friday’s event as a time trial.
“We are really hoping that we will see some community members out there and some alumni to change things up from what we are seeing at practice,” the coach said. “At practice, we have some pretty good packs going. I’m hopeful that they can push each other if there is not an alumni or community member in their pace group.”
With a bulk of last year’s runners graduating, Mortenson said this year’s squad is young. She is excited to see what times will be recorded on Friday. For many on the team, it will be their first time tackling Abercrombie. One practice has been held at The Fort this season, but Mortenson said the runners couldn’t navigate the entire course because of a bear sighting.
“We have a lot of positive energy and optimism for the season,” Mortenson. “We have a lot of underclassmen who are willing to work hard and go for it — it has been fun to see some really green athletes run some pretty solid workouts in these first two weeks. I have been impressed.”
Both the boys and girls programs are coming off Division I state meet appearances. The boys placed seventh at state, while the girls, in their first state meet since 2011, finished 10th.
Sophomore Elizabeth Parnell — 42nd at state last fall — is setting the pace for this year’s girls team, while senior Christan Harver — a junior varsity runner the previous season — is pacing the boys squad.
“He did some great training in the spring when track was canceled and continued doing that over the summer,” Mortenson said. “He is way stronger and way faster this year than we have seen from him.”
Mortenson is expecting Friday’s race to start in waves and not based on gender. The slower runners would begin in the first wave, while the fastest runners would anchor the waves. Think pursuit race.
“We are hoping that we can play with the non-traditional COVID race start in our favor. We might as well think creatively and figure out what we could do to make things more interesting if we don’t have off-island athletes to race,” Mortenson said.
Mortenson said that Grace Christian in Anchorage is hosting a virtual meet at the end of the month. The coach hopes to submit times. Before then, the team will partake in local events, like the Pillar Mountain Run on Aug. 22 and possibly another time trial.
“We are trying to get a lot of good stuff in as long as we are allowed to,” Mortenson said.
Mortenson is encouraging spectators to keep their distance from athletes and one another while watching the event.
“Everyone is really excited to be on the course in a semi-official capacity,” she said. “It will feel different than a workout will, absolutely.”