By CRAIG GIAMMONA
Courtesy Daily Sitka Sentinel
The Mt. Edgecumbe Lady Braves cross country team headed north to Anchorage hoping to finish among the five best 3A teams in Alaska. And the girls from Japonski Island delivered, taking 5th place with 142 points. The Lady Braves edged Craig by a point in the tough field, which raced at Bartlett High in Anchorage Oct. 1.
Grace Christian won the meet with 20 points, with Sitka (97), Seward 99) and Eielson (134) finishing ahead of MEHS. After the Lady Braves, Craig (143), Bethel (172), Nome (178), ACS (192) and Galena (252) rounded out the field.
Coach Josh Arnold said he was happy with the state performance, particularly since his top four runners were sophomores. Rosters change from year-to-year at MEHS, but Arnold said the 2011 state performance was one the Lady Braves can build on. "I think they set themselves up for next year,” Arnold said. “I was very pleased with the effort and the outcome. Thinking about next season, I just think it’s going to get better.”
Crystal McNeilly, from Pilot Station, was the top finisher for the Lady Braves, taking 23rd in a time of 22:07.
After McNeilly, Deirdre Creed (40th, 23:05), Felisha Orsborn (50th, 23:32), Scarlett Beaver (52nd, 23:38), Clara McConnell (76th, 24:52), Brandi Hale (82nd, 25:04) and Sarah Freese (85th, 25:15) rounded out the Lady Braves varsity roster at state. In that group, only Hale and McConell are seniors. Hale, from Hooper Bay, and McConnell, who hails from Dillingham, were both four-year runners for Arnold.
Ceed and Beaver are from Kotzebue, while Orsborn is from Anchorage and Freese hails from Fairbanks.
“My fastest girls are sophomores and juniors,” Arnold said. “It was a great chance for them to see the course.”
He added: “You get to that level and the competition is pretty tough.”
The Braves, meanwhile, ended up in 8th place at state. The MEHS boys scored 199 points. Grace won the boys title with 38 points and was followed by Anchorage Christian (74), Seward (82), Sitka (110), Delta Junction (130), Bethel (130), Craig (193), MEHS (199) and Nome (202).
The Braves were led by Daniel Adams, who took 31st place in 18:31, finishing just ahead of the tight Sitka pack. Justin Andrew (45th, 18:48), Kendrick Hautala (63rd, 19:17), Cody Sherman (68th, 19:25), Michael Matthrew (93rd, 20:37), Gregory Vance (99th, 21:22) and Kenneth Jackson (100th, 21:43) completed Edgecumbe’s state team. Arnold had hoped his team could crack the top five, but said he was happy with how the season turned out. After losing most of his 2010 team to graduation, Arnold’s Braves bounced back to take second at the Region V race and returned to state.
“I really feel good about our season,” Arnold said. “We had a great season, the Mt. Edgecumbe Braves, both boys and girls.”
The MEHS boys state team featured three seniors: Andrew (Kwethluk), Hautala (Kwethluk) and Sherman (Nome).