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'Super Six' remain undefeated


Mary Koppes / Petersburg Pilot

Stuart Medalen sprints hard to the finish line at Sandy Beach Park during Saturday's 5k Jack Eddy Invitational.

Over 200 runners, teams from 15 communities across Southeast, stampeded into Petersburg for last weekend's cross country invitational.

They raced in the warm sun before a crowd of enthusiastic supporters.

"It was more than just parents and teachers out there. The students were out there with the pep club and all these community members where out supporting," said Vikings Head Coach Tom Thompson. "Donnie Hayes with Parks and Rec. and Jaime Cabral did such great things to put the whole meet together."

The Vikings runners exceeded their coaches' expectations, with many setting personal records (PRs), according to Thompson.

"I think a lot of it is seeing the community support for what they're doing. They work so hard starting in August grinding out hills and intervals, and this is an opportunity to celebrate," he said.

The girls team took first place overall at the meet.

"In fact, we haven't lost a 3A meet since taking third at Regions two years ago," said Thompson. "Sometimes we were beat by 4A teams, but this meet we beat them all: Ketchikan JDHS, Thunder Mountain, everyone. This was our invitational and we won it."

Hannah Pfundt outstepped Kayleigh Eddy at the finish by 0.2 seconds, for 10th and 11th place finishes in 22:16.3 and 22:16.5 times, respectively.

They were immediately followed by Julia Murph and Makayla Newman in 12th and 13th place, and close behind were Madisyn Parker and Erin Pfundt in 16th and 17th.

"We had a solid pack of blue coming in, and that's what cross country is all about. You get your top six girls in the top 15 or 20 and you win meets. You don't have to be the number one, but you have to have everyone in there," said Thompson.  "Each race one leads the pack and they all climb on. They're all running for their lives, but they catch each other's wake and just go. It's been very successful for them."

Parker, Newman, Murph and Hannah Pfundt all set PRs, according to Coach Thompson.

"And our boys, this is the best boys team we've had for years and years and years," said Thompson.

River Quitslund was the front runner coming into the second half, but an injury kept him from finishing the race.

"He has a sprained knee and he was running though the pain. Then he realized he can't sacrifice the next couple years of running for one race, so he pulled out," said Thompson.

Had he finished, Thompson estimated, the boys team would have taken second in 3A, right behind Sitka.

Mary Koppes / Petersburg Pilot

Hannah Pfundt catches up to Viking frontrunner Kayleigh Eddy at the finish.

"When the number one runner goes down it changes the scoring ability, but the boys two through six spots did a great job, a number of PRs," said Thompson. "Ben Zarlengo improved his PR on that course by nearly 40 seconds, and Nathaniel Lenhard ran out of his mind."

The Vikings have set the goal of taking both the girls and boys teams to the state competition this year, something that Petersburg Cross Country hasn't achieved in a long time.

"The boys have a tough road ahead...if we can get our top runners to get their best times, then we have a chance to bring both the girls and boys to state," said Thompson. "We really have to perform in the next couple of weeks, and we'll see what happens."

The Vikings head to Sitka for this weekend's meet.


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