Cross-Country Running’s Crazy Finish


Cross-country runners at State.

Max Pfeiffenberger, Sports Expert

Cross-country running is a grueling sport. Practices and races are full of discomfort, pain, soreness, and hardship. Every runner, from the fastest to the slowest, endures this adversity together, and because of this, the team becomes very close. In a normal year, all this hard work culminates in the final three races of the season: Boroughs, Regions, and State. As we all know by now, it is not a normal year, so the season looked a little different.

The JV team’s season came to an abrupt end in mid-September. Our Boroughs meet was scheduled for a Saturday. Friday night, all the runners were preparing for the race: loading up on carbs, packing their bags, and preparing their mindsets. At 9:30 pm, they received the news: “Superintendent O’Brien just cancelled Seward activities for the weekend.” Three days later, the district decided that JV teams would not be allowed to compete at Regions. “I felt like it was kind of unfair. I wish we could have run at Boroughs and Regions,” said senior Cody Bryden.

Fortunately, the varsity team was allowed to go to Regions. Normally, the top four teams from our region qualify for State. This year, in order to keep the State meet small, only the top eight individual runners qualified. This was unfortunate for seniors Sam Koster, Trey Ingalls, and Hana Cooney. Sam and Trey placed 9th and 10th, and Hana finished 10th, narrowly missing the cutoff. 

Several Seahawks did qualify, however. Senior boys Max Pfeiffenberger, 2nd place, and Levi DeBoard, 8th place, both made it. On the girls side, freshman Hailey Ingalls, 2nd place, sophomore Lena Jagielski, 3rd place, and senior Maranatha Brueckner, 5th place, all made it. When Sam found out that he and Trey hadn’t qualified, he said, “It’s lame because any other year we would’ve been able to go to State.” 

Everyone agreed the entire team deserved to go to State. “It would have been more fun if we could have qualified, but we still managed to have a good time,” said Lena. During the week leading up to State, the team drew names out of a hat for a secret-Santa-style gift exchange. Gifts ranged from homemade jewelry to snacks. All week, the runners tried to figure out who their secret buddy was based on the gifts they received. This is a long-standing tradition that makes the end of the season a lot of fun for the team.

The day before State, the team took a bus to Anchorage and walked the course at Kincaid Park. The evening was spent in a rental house where the runners prepared for the race by eating Moose’s Tooth pizza, making tie-dye shirts, watching the NBA finals, revealing their secret buddies, playing Among Us, and talking about the race. After a good night’s sleep, the runners were primed to have some great races.

The cross-country teamworked hard the entire season and were prepared to leave everything out on the course. For their final race, the runners were separated into waves of eight individuals. The start of each wave was separated by two minutes. This made for a different racing dynamic. The competitors weren’t running with as many people, and they didn’t know their place until everyone had crossed the finish line. 

The Seward Seahawks made a strong showing. Hailey finished 10th, and Maranatha placed 14th with Lena right behind her in 15th. In the boys race, Max secured a 6th place finish, and Levi crossed the line in 20th.

COVID-19 definitely disrupted the 2020 cross-country running season. Several races throughout the season were cancelled, rescheduled, or relocated. Despite all of this, the Seahawk runners persevered and finished off the season with some great races.