110 runners participate at first Region VI cross country meet of the year
FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - High school students return to the classroom - or laptop - this week to open a new year. Before their first assignment, 110 cross country runners from eight different schools roamed the UAF Trails Saturday for the West Valley Invite, the first meet of the season for interior athletes.
A community and a freshman race kicked off the action and West Valley ninth grader Evelyn Wool impressed, as her time of 13 minutes and 42 seconds (2:19 ahead of second place) would have rounded out the top five in the varsity race. Wolfpack teammate Ezra Bailey won the boy’s freshman race at 11:29.
West Valley varsity picked up where they left off, sweeping the day as they did at the Region VI Championships in 2020. Junior Riga Grubis completed the 3,200-meter race in 12:43, topping teammate Gloria Bailey (12:55). Amy Pilon (3rd, 13:19) was the top finisher out of Lathrop, Jeannie Cook (5th, 13:55) paced Monroe, Maria Mattox (13th, 15:51) led North Pole, while Grace Pearson (16th, 16:49) was the fastest out of Delta.
“As you can see by the freshman race, we have some pretty amazing freshmen,” Grubis said of the program after the victory. “Our team dynamic is really good, we all get along really well so I am really excited to see what we can do together.”
Without third-place finisher at state in 2020, Daniel Abramowicz, the Wolfpack were still able to make it a clean sweep on the day as junior Shane Fisher took the West Valley Invite boy’s title at 10:31, outpacing fellow Wolfpack Cirdan Vonnahme (10:46). Lathrop teammates Benjamin Pilon (10:55) and Asher James (11:06) placed third and fourth respectively, while West Valley’s Caleb Peterson (11:16) rounded out the top five. Austin Darby paced the Patriots, while Gabe Haas was the top runner out Delta.
Between the boys and girls programs, West Valley has had an individual or team championship in each of the last five state cross country meets.
“Well we have our great coaches, Dan [Callahan] stepped down last year, [Hannibal] Grubis is doing a great job filling that over,” Fisher said. “The team just has spirit, we are serious about running but we also like to have fun and that is a big part of it.”
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