Spectators gathered in their traditional viewing spots Friday afternoon at Fort Abercrombie State Historical Park and cheered on runners as they passed by.
It felt and looked like a high school cross country meet at a place that has been home to some historic moments. But it wasn’t. The only school in attendance was Kodiak High School.
“It’s good to have the race atmosphere ... it is nice to have the fans, the race, the time and the warm-up routine,” Kodiak coach Ashley Mortenson said. “We will just keep doing the work and hope that eventually, we will get to race.”
When that time is, nobody knows.
The Kodiak Island Borough School District imposed a travel ban for sports teams through September as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to cripple the state’s prep sports scene. Other schools in the state face similar restrictions or are competing in-district only, like the Mat-Su Borough School District.
There have been a few multi-school meets this season, but the odds of Kodiak being involved in one are dwindling by the day.
Mortenson knows that and, with the season ending Oct. 10, has gotten creative in keeping her runners going. Friday was the second time trial of the season at The Fort.
Sophomore Kailani Gilbert — in her first high school 5-kilometer race at Fort Abercrombie — clocked the fastest girls time at 23 minutes, 32.8 seconds.
Gilbert, of Kodiak Middle School fame, spent last school year in Idaho and has returned to The Rock.
While at KMS, Gilbert was part of a 1,600-meter relay team that established a new school record and won a 1,600-meter race at The Dome in Anchorage in front of Alaska greats Allie Ostrander and Kristi (Klinnert) Waythomas.
Mortenson said Gilbert went to a few trail runs this summer and started practicing with the team last week when she knew she would attend Kodiak High School.
“I was thrilled to get her,” Mortenson said. “Her times in middle school were solid.”
Jennifer Parnell, her middle school coach, compared Gilbert to Chloe Ivanoff, a former Kodiak High standout runner and wrestler.
“She is a fierce competitor and has a long history of CrossFit, as well,” said Jennifer Parnell, her middle school coach. “When we used to do hand-stand competitions, she would beat everybody — she is crazy fit.”
Junior Naomi Griffin was second in the girls field with a time of 23:44, while freshman Abigail Harver was third in 25:28.7.
Senior Christian Harver continues to be the top Kodiak boy, finishing in 19:32.3 — .7 seconds faster than his Fort Abercrombie time earlier this season.
Freshman Max Robinson, who didn’t race two weeks ago at The Fort, was second in 19:48.3, while freshman Joseph Hathaway was third in 20:18.7.
Mortenson used a wave start for the race, with the girls beginning five minutes before the boys.
“Some of the finishing duels between the girls and the guys were pretty good,” the coach said.
Kodiak’s times were initially going to be submitted for a virtual race that Grace Christian was hosting, but the Grizzlies decided to do an in-person meet instead with ACS, Glennallen and Holy Rosary Academy at Kincaid Park in Anchorage.
The Bears will be at Bear Valley Golf Course at 9 a.m. Saturday for another time trial.
1. Christian Harver, 19 minutes, 32.3 seconds; 2. Max Robinson, 19:48.3; 3. Joseph Hathaway, 20:18.7; 4. Nicholas Hecht, 20:24.2; 5. Elmar Barroga, 20:35.9; 6. Elias Litzow, 20:42.0; 7. Joshua Hathaway, 20:43.3; 8. Tyler Holforty, 20:44.0; 9. Jacob Sarnowski, 20:45.7; 10. Isaiah Panthin, 20:57.3; 11. Bengt Anderson, 20:57.8; 12. Jackson Roberts, 21:50.7; 13. Aidan Buschbacher, 22:43.8; 14. Makoto Seto, 22:47.5; 15. Simon Grimes, 22:54.6; 16. Theron Glover, 25:01.7; 17. Tristan Creelman, 28:01.6; 18. Noah Schrof, 28:04.1; 19. Richmon Incognito, 30:16.4; 20. Jed Overbeek, 31:40.8; 21. Rowan Wyszkowski, 32:46.4.
1. Kailani Gilbert, 23:32.8; 2. Naomi Griffin, 23:44.1; 3. Abigail Harver, 25:28.7; 4. Cassidy Foster, 25:45.9; 5. Alyssa Prevatt, 27:05.9; 6. Elizabeth Parnell, 27:22.6; 7. Hannah McCarthy, 27:27.8; 8. Leah Winegeart, 29:17.1; 9. Hannah Asbury, 31:39.0.