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Girls cross country takes second in Juneau


Charles Westmoreland / Juneau Empire

Erin Pfundt, front bottom, is followed closely by teammate Shyla Cook in Juneau last weekend.

PHS cross country took on a hill-filled course in Juneau last weekend, and the girls came in second to Juneau-Douglas by one point. Head coach Tom Thompson said the finish, with the exception of regions last season, was the best he's seen a girls team have in his five years of coaching.

The girls had five runners in the top 15, and Thompson said they looked "powerful." Kayleigh Eddy improved on her time from last year on the course, en route to a fifth place finish.

Standout freshman Melanie Chase followed Eddy across the finish line for sixth place. Erin Pfundt came in eighth, Shyla Cook took 10th, and Julia Murph finished 14th, beating Lillian Borromeo of Hydaburg by just over one second.

"We had a really successful weekend," Pfundt said. "Everyone ran really strong."

Pfundt credits the leadership of Eddy for pushing her and the girls team in practice and races. She said the addition of Chase to the front of the Viking lineup has really improved the team overall and adds to the motivation Eddy provides.

"It really pushes everyone to do their best, because we see them working so hard," Pfundt said.

The girls ran strong from top to bottom, with Madisyn Parker and Alexandra Bless also improving on their times from the Juneau course last season. Parker even did it with a torn Achilles tendon that doctors diagnosed after the team returned to Petersburg.

"She must have run the last part with it torn, and she still had a really, really good run," Thompson said of Parker.

The boys team took seventh place in a field of 13 teams and 140 runners. Nathaniel Lenhard led the boys again, finishing just under 19 minutes. Sophomore Tolin Eddy crossed the finish line on Lenhard's heels to earn 30th place.

"Tolin is like a newborn horse," Thompson said. "Tolin's getting stronger and faster every year as his times come down. He's got a great work ethic and he's got a ton of potential to be one of the top runners in Southeast."

Thompson said the sophomore has "incredible heart" and "natural talent, with legs up to his ears." He really focused on becoming a better runner while training with Tucker Hagerman this summer before Hagerman went off to college at the University of Montana, Thompson said.

Koren Sperl was the next Viking to finish, and freshman Thomas Durkin completed his race two seconds behind Sperl. Durkin racked up another personal record (PR), and so did teammate Noah Sullivan. Jack Byrer also had a PR in his last meet of the season.

The packed field on the boys side made it difficult for some runners because of the heavy traffic. Thompson said getting stuck behind a pack of slower runners can really make a difference for those out running in front. So it was great to see Durkin doing everything he could to get out front after getting trapped early.

"I will say this about Thomas, he literally ran his guts out," Thompson said. "I bet he passed 60 or 70 people from the start of the race, he was dodging people the whole time."

Thompson said the weekend surprised him because he and coach Debbie Eddy really worked the kids hard leading up to the race. This week, the coaches will rest the runners heading into regions at Sitka.

The course in Sitka is a flat, looped course, and known for being slower because of the twists and turns. However, Thompson is looking forward to good performances from the boys and girls.

"I'm just hoping to have some really good news next week," he said. "The kids have put in so much work."


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