High School Sports

Staying humble, Grace Christian’s Robbie Annett is leading the pack in cross-country running

Last fall as a sophomore, Grace Christian’s Robbie Annett finished third in the Division II boys cross-country state championship race behind Homer’s Seamus McDonough and his teammate David Sliwinski, who came in first and went on to be named Gatorade Player of the Year for the sport.

As a junior, the 16-year-old has yet to lose a race this season and has even bested Division I competition along the way. Even though he is the prohibitive favorite to win state this year and lead the Grizzlies to a sixth-straight team state title, Annett is staying humble and feels prepared to excel.

“I think that my training has built up for it,” he said. “A lot of good training from coaches and (my) teammates pushing me. I think I’m pretty prepared.”

Despite being only a junior, Annett’s work ethic has made him the catalyst for team success.

“Robbie is just a really hard worker,” Grace Christian coach Tara Edwards said. “He’s naturally a great athlete and just kind of sets the tone. Even though he’s a junior, he is kind of our workhorse and is the one who sets the standard for how hard the kids work.”

Annett runs year-round and competes in other sports including basketball and track and field. He won state titles in both sports with varsity teams at Grace Christian last year.

“Track helps me with cross country, and I train over the summer as well,” he said.


As one of the youngest members of all three of the state championship teams that he was a part of last year, he learned a tremendous amount about being a leader from former Grizzlies stars like Sliwinski in both cross country and track and field and cousins Sloan and Luke Lentfer in basketball.

“They’re great leaders and have a really strong walk with God, which is always key in a leader, and they just know how to encourage people really well,” Annett said. “I’ve tried to do my best to push others during practice.”

The love for endurance running runs deep in his family as his father and all three of his older sisters were standout runners in high school.

“It’s always been a part of my family,” he said. “Hopefully I can take it to the next level.”

During the summer Annett participated in mountain and trail races as a part of his cross-country training regimen.

“I ran Mount Marathon and have run it for four years now and I also run some Skinny Raven races,” he said.

Annett was eighth in the Mount Marathon junior division this summer after getting third in 2022.

Developing the mentality of a champion

After finishing behind both Sliwinski and McDonough in state cross country in the fall of his sophomore year, Annett bested them both at state track and field last spring when he finished first in both the 800 and 1,600 meter finals.

Edwards has been involved with the cross-country running program at Grace Christian since 2002 and has been serving as the head coach since 2012.

It’s rare to go from having one premier runner in Sliwinski to another in Annett but she is grateful that it happens to be the case for the Grizzlies

“I just wasn’t expecting to have such strong runners back to back,” Edwards said. “As a sophomore, Robbie was kind of strong, but he wasn’t like top-top until track.”

Annett went from being the perennial third wheel to a pair of rivals in Sliwinski and McDonough to pulling off a stunning upset over the two runners, who were prohibitive favorites heading into state track last year. Sliwinski had won the state title in the 1600 in 2022.

“I think Robbie saw himself as the third-place runner, but then at state he kept up and ended up winning both races,” Edwards said. “His mind shifted from ‘You don’t have to be a No. 3 runner, you can be No. 1.’ ”

Annett will be competing in the annual Smokin’ Stampede 5K race on Saturday at Chugiak High, the last big race of the regular season. It’ll be one last chance to go up against higher-level competition before the postseason gets underway.

“I’m really excited,” Annett said. “I have a lot of good friends that I’ll race against there that are pretty fast. My teammate Simon Nelson is gonna be right up there with me, so it should be super fun.”

Josh Reed

Josh Reed is a sports reporter for the Anchorage Daily News. He's a graduate of West High School and the University of North Carolina at Pembroke.