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Viking girls win Regionals in tough weather conditions


Klas Stolpe / Juneau Empire

Erin Pfundt kicks up some mud on her way to a fourth place finish for the Vikings.

Petersburg cross country girls are heading back to State, after an exceptional meet and first place team finish at Regionals last weekend in Juneau. The boys squad finished in fourth place, and had a good showing, but just fell short of making a return trip to the State meet.

The runners faced windy and rainy conditions which contributed a couple inches of mud in multiple spots on the course. Head coach Tom Thompson says cold temperatures affected some of the Viking runners, and the teams found themselves having to huddle up in cars at times to keep warm.

The girls flat out dominated. They scored 22 total points, missing out on a perfect score by only seven points. The five fastest runners all finished in the top 10, led by Kayleigh Eddy with a time of 22 minutes. Eddy placed second overall, finishing behind Wrangell's Reyn Hutten, who ran a quick time of 21:13.

Freshman Avery Skeek continued to build on her remarkable year, finishing in third place. Skeek crossed the finish line eight seconds after Eddy. The third place finish also netted Skeek a personal record (PR) besting her previous PR by two seconds. Hannah Pfundt came in seconds after Skeek, grabbing a fourth place overall for the senior. Sixth place finisher Erin Pfundt ran her meet in less than 23 minutes, and Julia Murph's efforts garnered her 10th place with a time of 23:18.

Overall the girls met and exceeded the expectations of head coach Tom Thompson. The coaching staff challenged the girls to beat specific runners from other squads, in order to achieve the highest team score possible, and they all accomplished their goals. In cross country there are ways to predict how teams will fair at State based on calculations of previous performances throughout the season. The girls team is predicted to finish fifth at State, but the competition will be tough because smaller communities like Homer and Seward are starting to build their running programs.

"These girls run all year long. They do cross country, track and cross country skiing," Thompson says. "Were in the running with them, but I think it'll be tough to place much higher than fourth or fifth, but you never know."

On the boys side, saying they faced tough competition, in addition to the bad weather, would be an understatement. Sitka had six runners finish in the top 10, on their way to taking home the Regional victory. Coach Thompson says Sitka has been a powerhouse all year; they are a deep team with talented runners. The difference between Sitka and second place Craig, was 80 points. The boys team missed out on beating second place Craig by only five points.

"I am not disappointed. I am just disappointed for the kids because they know they were so close," Thompson says.

Klas Stolpe / Juneau Empire

The start of the 1A/2A/3A Boys Region V Cross Country Championships at Sandy Beach in Juneau.

The Vikings were led, once again, by Tucker Hagerman. The lengthy senior finished in ninth place, completing the course in 18 minutes and 22 seconds. Hagerman was closely followed by junior Nathaniel Lenhard, who crossed the finish line in 12th place with a time of 18:47. The top 15 finishes for Hagerman and Lenhard mean they qualify to run at State this weekend.

"I am very thankful for my coaches throughout all of high school, especially this year. They've given me a training regimen to follow and it's really paid off," Hagerman said. "It feels really good knowing that you're one of the best runners in the state of Alaska."

Freshman Koren Sperl and Tolin Eddy ran well, and leave coach Thompson hopeful for returning a strong boys team next season. Sperl finished with a time of 19:38, while Eddy ran just under 21 minutes for the meet. The pair placed 21st and 37th respectively. Senior Stuart Medalen finished the meet between the two freshman, and earned a top 30 finish to end his Viking cross country career. State will be held this weekend in Anchorage.


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