Anchorage Christian Schools’ Tristian Merchant puts together historic senior season

Published: Oct. 6, 2020 at 4:13 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Keeping up with cross-country running standout Tristian Merchant is difficult when he has times that rival the nation’s top high school runners.

The Anchorage Christian Schools senior is expected to graduate with the fastest time in Alaska high school running history, registering 14 minutes, 41.32 seconds at Palmer High School’s 5-kilometer course last weekend. Seemingly faster every time he toes the start line, he previously posted a time of 14:45.2 at the ACS Invitational held at Cheney Lake in September.

“I don’t wear watches for races typically,” Merchant said, describing his performance at the ACS Inivitational. “I didn’t get any splits or anything it was just like, ‘Oh yeah, I’m glad I got to run that.’”

Merchant’s finish at Palmer High also didn’t feature a watch. ACS cross-country head coach Jake Moe says Merchant’s success is a mix of hard work and attention to detail.

“Whether it’s reading up in magazines or blogs, always asking me questions, just being that extra student of the sport has really propelled him," Moe said.

Standout Kodiak runner and long-time cross-country coach Marcus Dunbar said Merchant’s performance this season has put him in the conversation with other legendary Alaska runners like Allie Ostrander, Don Clary and Trevor Dunbar.

“To run under fifteen minutes on that [Palmer] course is clearly the best performance we’ve ever seen,” Dunbar said. “Everyone should understand his performance is one of the best in the nation.”

Twice this season, Merchant has posted top-five times in the country for cross-country running on, but the ACS senior won’t be able to run for a national championship as national meets have been canceled due to COVID-19.

“This year with a lot of the national meets canceled,” Moe said, “we’re like, ‘Alright, let’s put it all in the same bag, and go for it [at state].’”

Merchant will run for the final time this season on Saturday at Kincaid Park for the Alaska School Activities Association state championship meet.

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