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Moose welcomes back ASD runners at season-opening meets at Kincaid Park

  • Author: Beth Bragg
  • Updated: September 12, 2020
  • Published September 12, 2020

Spectators in masks encourage runners on the Kincaid Park cross country trails Saturday. (Emily Mesner / ADN)

Kincaid Park is a moosey kind of place, but Saturday was exceptional even by normal standards.

The park was the scene of four Cook Inlet Conference cross-country meets that ushered in the Anchorage School District season after a long break from competition.

COVID-19 robbed some of these runners of a track season last spring, wiped out most of this summer’s footraces and delayed the high school season by about a month.

And then a stubborn bull moose tried to mess with their season-opener.

West's Ethan Eski was among several varsity boys who had to restart their race because a bull moose wouldn't surrender its spot on the race trail Saturday at Kincaid Park. (Emily Mesner / ADN)

Not long after the varsity boys race had begun in a dual meet between the East Thunderbirds and West Eagles, the race was stopped because the moose wouldn’t budge from its spot on the trail about 2 kilometers into the 5 kilometer race.

Ethan Eski of West High, the sixth runner to take the course during an interval start that sent separated runners by 15 seconds, hadn’t even made it out of the Kincaid stadium when his coach told him to hold up.

“I was riding my bike here yesterday and saw four moose, so I thought I’d see one today,” Esky said.

“They heard there was a race,” joked teammate Finnigan Donley.

West's James Cornelison runs along the trail. (Emily Mesner / ADN)

The race was restarted several minutes later, after West High coach Daniel Greenhalgh and Skinny Raven timekeeper Mark Iverson chased it away — eventually — with an airhorn.

“It wouldn’t move,” Greenhalgh said.

Greenhalgh said he spotted at least six separate moose on the course during the first two meets of the day. He saw two standing together, and then about 200 yards later came across three more. The bull that held up traffic was by itself, he said.

“They were lazy and a little agitated,” he noted.

The same could not be said for the runners.

Their much-welcomed return to competition came on a beautiful autumn day — blue skies, crisp air and the brilliant fall colors of sun-kissed trees.

“I was pretty excited,” said East High sophomore Marley Ireland said of finally getting a chance to race.

Thea Offrink of East rounds a bend in the wooded trail. (Emily Mesner / ADN)

The races kicked off a short season that will end in about a month with the state championships. Saturday’s format paid heed to social distancing and will be the template for the rest of the regular season — four dual meets at Kincaid every Saturday, each separated by 2.5 hours to avoid too much overlap of teams.

The staggered start puts 15 seconds between each runner at the beginning of each race, but it doesn’t guarantee separation on the race trail.

Ireland was the first girl to leave the starting line in the East-West varsity race. She was passed by three runners, but each time someone passed her, Ireland stuck with them for a while and managed to chop two minutes off her previous fastest time.

Anna Kaplan, a West High sophomore, passed seven people during her race but was alone most of the time.

“It’s nice running in solitude,” she said.

In her case, solitude meant no moose, but Kaplan knew they were out there somewhere. “I saw some moose poop,” she said.

Shannon Donley, right, shows her allegiance as walks along the trail to watch her kids race. (Emily Mesner / ADN)

The races began at 9 a.m. and ended around 6:30 p.m., with each meet using the same course.

The fastest times came from Service’s Zander Maurer and Eagle River’s Emily Walsh.

Maurer clocked a swift 15:02 for the day’s fastest time by far. The only other runner to break the 16-minute mark was Michael Earnhart of Chugiak, who clocked 15:54.

Walsh ran 18:32 and was one of five girls to break the 19-minute mark. Others were Dimond’s Delainey Zock (18:35), South’s Ava Earl (18:49), Service’s Nowelle Spencer (18:52) and Service’s Tatum Witter (18:57).

Eski, who finished in 17:18, said it was much quieter than usual on the race course, in part because spectators did a good job spreading out rather than congregating along the trail. He prefers a loud, cheering crowd, but he wasn’t complaining.

“It was nice to be back in a racing environment,” he said.

“It’s fun to race, that’s for sure,” added Donley, whose time of 18:06 in the junior varsity race lowered his personal best by more than a minute. “It would’ve been a bummer if the race got canceled by a moose after the corona stuff.”

East vs. West

Varsity boys — 1. Forrest Rodgers, West 16:26; 2. Ethan Howe, East, 16:58; 3. Quinn Smith, West, 17:12; 4. Noah Goltz, West, 17:14; 5. Ethan Eski, West 17:18; 6. Isaac Main, West 17:25; 7. Solomon Shepherd, West 17:26; 8. Hatcher Menkens, West 17:41; 9. Murphy Kimball, West 17:41; 10. Liam Chisholm, West 17:47; 11. Tommy King, East 18:38; 12. Malzaiah Rubit, East 19:15; 13. Alex Lopez, East 19:36; 14. Jared Lindblom, East 19:45; 15. Eniah Boseman, East 19:52; 16. Gareth LeCrone, East 19:57; 17. Dylan Haley, East 20:16; 18. Eli Stierwalt, East 21:23.

Varsity girls — 1. Quincy Donley, West 19:40; 2. Natalie Hood, West 19:45; 3. Payton Smith, West 19:51; 4. Tarja Latva-Kiskola, West 20:46; 5. Marley Ireland, East 20:48; 6. Ryann Dorris, West 20:57; 7. Lily Pannkuk, West 21:13; 8. Sophia Mayers, West 21:17; 9. Annika Colberg, West 21:51; 10. Hannah Yi, West 21:52; 11. Kiana Feldis, West 21:57.

Chugiak vs. South

Varsity boys — 1. Michael Earnhart, Chugiak 15:54; 2. Jacob Lestina, Chugiak 16:21; 3. Michael Connelly, Chugiak 16:43; 4. Kyle Fischer, South 16:51; 5. Brady Burrough, South 16:59; 6. Benjamin Fischer, South 17:12; 7. Bryson Powell, South 17:13; 8. Owen Young, South 17:22; 9. Jason Hutchinson, South 17:34; 10. Blaise Boyer, South 17:39; 11. Aiden Schubert, South 17:59; 12. Nolan Miller, South 18:03; 13. Will Gerlach, Chugiak 18:15; 14. Ely Hawes, South 18:22; 15. Robert Johnson, Chugiak 19:12; 16. Benjamin Ringsmuth, Chugiak 19:27; 17. Owen Farr, Chugiak 19:39; 18. Colton Bobo, Chugiak 19:42; 19. Justin Lafferty, Chugiak 20:18; 20. Austin Honig, Chugiak; 20:28.

Varsity girls — 1. Ava Earl, South 18:49; 2. Robyn Miller, South 19:21; 3. Ellie Zock, South 19:31; 4. Lucy Young, South 19:39; 5. Skyler Belmear, Chugiak 19:45; 6. Kiley Dennis, Chugiak 19:48; 7. Campell Peterson, Chugiak 19:48; 8. Addison Capozzi, Chugiak 19:54; 9. Emily Moore, Chugiak 20:12; 10. Elizabeth Page, South 20:57; 11. Grianne Rogacki, South 21:07; 12. Taya Lee, South 21:13; 13. Elizabeth Novakovich, South; 21:32 14. Indigo Hobson, South 21:44; 15. Autumn Thomas, Chugiak 21:49; 16. Olivia Burrup, Chugiak 21:59; 17. Madison Schuh, South 21:59; 18. Jillian Gavalya, Chugiak 22:02; 19. Meg Smedley, Chugiak 22:04; 20. Piper Belmear, Chugiak 22:15.

Eagle River vs. Bartlett

Varsity boys — 1. Henry Michener, Eagle River 17:54; 2. Ethaniel Padilla, Eagle River 18:17; 3. Alex Carl, Eagle River 18:37; 4. Jack Malloy, Eagle River 18:59; 5. Joshua Baker, Eagle River 19:07; 6. Ethan Jennings, Eagle River 19:23; 7. Carson Chadwick, Bartlett 19:33; 8. Keenan Vedros, Eagle River 19:51; 9. Damien Borchardt, Eagle River 20:22; 10. Grant Miller, Eagle River 20:27; 11. Max Carl, Eagle River 22:03.

Varsity girls — 1. Emily Walsh, Eagle River 18:32; 2. Claire Nelson, Eagle River 20:18; 3. Arianna Espindola, Eagle River 22:00; 4. Sarah Bassett, Eagle River 22:13; 5. Amanda Michener, Eagle River 23:03; 6. Anita Walsh, Eagle River 23:27; 7. Jacey Spencer, Eagle River 23:28; 8. Madison Larson, Eagle River 23:40; 9. Riley Wilson, Eagle River 23:54; 10. Julia Szerszenski, Eagle River 24:28.

Service vs. Dimond

Varsity boys — 1. Alexander Maurer, Service 15:02; 2. Aaron Power, Service 16:21; 3. Joel Power, Service 16:22; 4. Jared Gardiner, Dimond 16:46; 5. Paul Hlasny, Service 17:13; 6. Elias Soule, Service 17:22; 7. Nicholas Prosser, Dimond 17:31; 8. Ian Cruickshank, Dimond 17:34; 9. Tate Wellman, Service 17:46; 10. Jevin Lim, Service 17:47; 11. Max Johnsen, Dimond 17:52; 12. Justin Lucas, Service 17:53; 13. Noah Rygh, Dimond 17:56; 14. Tayson McKenzie, Dimond 18:06; 15. Dash Dicang, Dimond 18:31; 16. Ian Aist, Service 18:32; 17. Owen Saltzman, Dimond 18:42; 18. Paul Cvancara, Dimond 19:01; 19. Jacob Johnson, Dimond 19:03.

Varsity girls — 1. Delainey Zock, Dimond 18:35; 2. Nowelle Spencer, Service 18:52; 3. Tatum Witter, Service 18:57; 4. Emily Erickson, Dimond 19:17; 5. Marit Flora, Service 19:26; 6. Meredith Schwartz, Service 19:40; 7. Mina Hancock, Service 20:29; 8. Nora McBride, Dimond 20:52; 9. Ruthie Richardson, Service 21:19; 10. Anna Halsey, Dimond 21:41; 11. Liz Engle, Dimond 21:53; 12. Sophia Cvancara, Dimond 22:01; 13. Maria Cvancara, Dimond 22:10; 14. Adria Wuerth, Service 22:23; 15. Jenna Walch, Dimond 22:23; 16. Michelle Graeber, Dimond 22:30.

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