The Killer Cross Country Season


The cross-country running team has been having an awesome season. Let’s recap the highlights, and hear from the runners themselves about their experiences in the sport. 

The team is split between junior varsity and varsity, in order to place runners against those with similar times in races. The varsity boys include Trevor Guernsey for the full season, and Olin Liljemark, who started his season JV and moved up for Boroughs and Regions. 

The varsity girls team is Hailey Ingalls, Aly Guernsey, and Stella Dow for the full season, and Katie Vanbuskirk, Natalie Siemenski, Juniper Ingalls, and Maddie Haas all moved up to varsity at various points in the season. 

Boys JV is represented by Ozzy Deel and Roberto Ferraro. The JV girls were Emily Anger, Kate Norvell, and Lucy Bamford, and Addison Lemme (Addison ran varsity a few races). 

The first race of the season was the Ted McKenny Invite, held at the Tsalteshi trails in Soldotna. In this race, Hailey took 6th place with a time of 20:26 minutes. For freshmen Maddie, Juniper, Kate, Lucy and Olin, this race was the first taste of what high school cross-country is really like. Maddie mentioned there were “more people” and “longer trails” compared to middle school. Kate similarly mentioned the season is “more intense” and “a bigger deal.”

For returning members, this race serves as a way to figure out where you stand in order to work forward. Hailey believes the first race establishes “where you are speed-wise, which makes it easier to set goals.” Natalie uses this race as one “you don’t need to worry about,” to start the season off with no stress. Stella takes this a step further. She says “if you go slow [in the first race] you can be the most improved runner.” As the Most Improved Runner two years so far, Stella knows what she is talking about in this regard.

The second race of the season was the Colony Invite. This was an interesting event because no team member, nor either of the coaches who ran for Seward in high school, had ever run the course before. It turned out to be a wide grassy trail, almost like running along a three mile lawn. Trevor was again the sole varsity boy, running an 18:55, breaking under 19 for the first time. This race, Ozzy ran alone in the JV boys race with a 23:33, a personal record at this point in the season. The girls varsity didn’t have a full team, but Hailey placed 3rd with a 20:13. All of the JV girls at this meet Pr’ed: Juniper (25:13, 12th), Kate (28:15), and Lucy (29:47). 

The ACS Class 3K is a race based on grade instead of varsity ranking. Another unique part of this race is that it is a 3-kilometer run instead of five, the only one the entire season.  In the 9/10th grade girls race, Katie snatched 7th and Maddie 10th. In the 11/12th grade girls, Aly ran to 5th and Hailey took 1st. This different way of splitting for races is not highly favored by the team, as the majority enjoy varsity-JV races more. 

The only home meet of the season took place on September 15th, a surprisingly not rainy day. Seven teams made the trip, including Hope, Bethel, and Unalaska. All the JV girls placed top ten in their race, Lucy in 4th, Kate in 6th, and Emily in 7th. Varsity girls also had a great day, with Hailey in 1st, Aly in 6th and Katie in 7th. Olin took 4th in the JV boys, and Trevor took 7th in Varsity. 

Home races are always very different, and everyone has unique aspects they like or dislike. Hailey likes the home crowd and sleeping in; Trevor enjoys the cheering from Swander and The Boys; Ozzy appreciates the football team and Jack Gardner coming out to watch; and Katie finds strategizing her race easier. On the flip side, Maddie and Natalie don’t like cleaning up after running a whole race, and Roberto doesn’t enjoy the home crowd coming out because he prefers to be “alone in the woods” during races. 

Boroughs were held in Homer this year, and when the veterans on the team heard early in the season, they all cringed. Homer’s course is situated on Ohlson Mountain, a very hilly, muddy, and bumpy course. It is known for being the slowest time of a person’s entire season, and for causing the most injuries of any other trail, excluding Bartlett, which hosts the state competition. However, everyone’s hopes were granted when the coaches received the course map a week prior to the race, and it showed that they were running the Homer Spit instead, a completely flat course. Every Seahawk who ran in this race got a season record or a personal all-time record. There were 7 top ten finishes at boroughs: Trevor in 9th in varsity, Hailey 1st, Aly 6th, and Katie 8th in varsity, and Addison 1st, Lucy 8th, and Emily 10th in JV. 

The girls varsity team beat Homer on their home turf and took the borough 1st place trophy with 36 points, Homer following with 40. The team’s thoughts were on a variety of things when they won, from Hailey thinking about what the theme song of the team would be (“Big Booty Remix 21”), to Juniper believing the team did terrible when they didn’t get second, to Natalie thinking of the weather. 

On October 1st, the Seward cross-country team attended their region race. Regions is the last race of the season for all Junior Varsity runners, as well as the Varsity runners who do not qualify for State. But we will get to that later.

This is the most important race of the entire year. In order to advance in competition to the state level, Region III  Division II teams must have a full Varsity team consisting of 5-7 runners of a single gender place in the top four of the region; or a runner can place in the top 15 in their race to qualify individually if they do not have a full team.  

The Varsity girls team from Seward consisting of Hailey Ingalls, Aly Guernsey, Katie VanBuskirk, Maddie Haas, Stella Dow, and Natalie Sieminski took 2nd in the region, losing the champion title to Homer by a mere three points. Trevor Guernsey placed 14th in the region with a time of 18:06, a personal record time and state qualifying placement. 

This concludes the general season of cross-country running. Stay tuned for next week’s report on the state race happening soon!