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Cross country off to fast start this season


Brad Taylor / Submitted Photo

The PHS girls squad, led by Kayleigh Eddy, gets their 2016 campaign underway last weekend. Viking runner Daniel Holmberg looks to keep his stride strong in Ketchikan.

The Petersburg High School cross country teams traveled to Ketchikan last weekend to open the 2016 season. The boys and girls performed remarkably well to kick off the year, with the boys earning a sixth place finish and the girls taking third overall.

Head coach Tom Thompson says the finish for the girls team isn't shocking, but he did have some questions about how they would bounce back after

losing two impactful runners from last year's squad. Yet, they still had five girls in the top 12 overall for 1A/2A/3A schools. The team ran from top to bottom this weekend, especially two first time competitors Melanie Chase and Meghyn Parker.

"You're excited every year if you have one good freshman coming in," Thompson says. "And this year, as far as the girls go, we have two good freshmen."

Chase earned seventh place, crossing the finish line a

second behind teammate Kayleigh Eddy, the top performer for the girls. Thompson says Chase handled her first high school meet like a veteran and ran "like a future champion."

Parker finished two seconds behind Julia Murph, with Murph taking 25th. Parker, who spent time training this summer at a running camp in Wisconsin, ran through an injury while in Ketchikan.

"Meghyn takes this stuff seriously," Thompson says. "She wants to do extremely well, and she had a good race, but she'll actually have better races."

Thompson believes

part of the reason for the quick starts on both Viking squads is the dedication of his assistant coach Debby Eddy. He

calls her "rock-steady" and great when working with kids, "Can't thank her enough

for all she's done, she's invaluable to the team," he says.

The girls missed out on second place as a team by only two points.

The positive signs

of early life were present on the boys side last weekend as well, with Isaac Taylor and Noah Sullivan putting in strong efforts.

Thompson says many of the runners were not looking to put up personal

best times, and compared to the first meet of last season the team is looking to be in fine shape. Senior Nathaniel Lenhard led the boys team, with Daniel Holmberg finishing next.

Lenhard scored a top-20 finish, and

Holmberg came in 30th with Tolin Eddy six spots behind.

In team points, the boys will be facing an uphill battle all year running against a talented Sitka squad. The team includes two of the best senior runners in the state, and the skill level doesn't drop off when it comes to underclassmen.

Brad Taylor / Submitted Photo

"On a seven man team, they are probably nine men deep," Thompson says laughing. "It looks like an all star team."

The Sitka boys team had six runners in the top 15 at Ketchikan, and four of them were in the top 10. That's even with a couple of the runners getting delayed starts, and one runner completing the race with his shoes untied. Thompson says the dedication of the team to running is really starting to show and he'd be surprised if they don't win state.

The Sitka boys are scheduled to be in town next weekend for the Petersburg Invitational/Jack Eddy Invitational.

The Juneau-Douglas girls will be another team to watch, with two top freshmen runners in the region. Thompson says he's expecting over 200 athletes from all over Southeast to be at the meet on Saturday.


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