By CRAIG GIAMMONA
Courtesy Daily Sitka Sentinel
The Mt. Edgecumbe cross country team opened the 2011 season at the Capital City Invitational in Juneau Aug. 27.
The race was held less than a week after Edgecumbe students returned to campus on Japonski Island, but the Braves and Lady Braves showed promise in their first outings of the season.
“We’re always playing catch up,” Arnold said. “I tell my runners that this first race is just a fancy practice for us. A practice with uniforms and a real clock and fans. From that perspective, we had a good run.”
The Braves are coming off a season that saw them finish second in the Southeast 3A conference. But coach Josh Arnold lost his top five runners from that team to graduation.
The Lady Braves, meanwhile, are looking to rebound after finishing fifth in the conference last year.
Edgecumbe teams usually start the year behind their Southeast rivals, but are known to finish strong.
"History shows we catch-up," Arnold said. "We have to improve their speed and endurance."
Arnold took seven boys and six girls to Juneau for the opening meet. For the Braves, Daniel Adams, a senior from Platinum, was the top finisher, taking 44th place in a time of 20:44.
Gregory Vance (47th, 21:08), Kendrick Hautala (53rd, 21:31), Carlton Hautala (54th, 21:34) and Michael Matthew (55th, 22:03) rounded out the MEHS top five. Nelson Kanuk (66th, 23:02) and Andrew Karmun (24:04) also ran for the Braves, who scored 253 points to take seventh place. The Braves beat Petersburg, but finished behind Juneau-Douglas, Ketchikan, Thunder Mountain and 3A Southeast teams from Sitka High (75 points), Craig (190) and Wrangell (232).
The Lady Braves, competing without a few of their top runners, finished in eighth place at the meet, scoring 275 points.
"Nobody likes to finish last, nobody," Arnold said, adding that he noticed the girls meeting amongst themselves after the race to discuss the performance and was impressed with the leadership of seniors Clara McConnell and Brandi Hale. Both harriers are four year seniors for the Lady Braves.
Hale led the Lady Braves in Juneau, finishing 39th in 26:19. Felisha Orsborn (47th, 27:29), McConnell (53rd, 29:17), Cingarkaq Pavilla (58th, 31:08) and Bryttni Williams (60th, 32:47) rounded out the MEHS scorers in the girls race. Michele Slwooko was 61st for MEHS in a time of 35:11.
The Braves and Lady Braves were scheduled to run Sept. 16 in Wrangell.