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Chugiak girls cross country team wins open invitational at NXR Northwest Regional Championships

Published: Nov. 16, 2021 at 9:30 AM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The Chugiak High School girls cross country team traveled to Boise, Idaho on Friday and Saturday where they competed in and won the Girls Open Invitational at the Nike Cross National Northwest Regional Championships.

The Mustangs won the Girls Open 5-kilometer race without their No. 1 and No. 7 runners. The team’s top finisher in the event ended up running the majority of the second half of the race without a shoe, losing it on a beach portion of the race. This goes to show just how resilient the team, which ran under the name RunAK for the tournament, was in winning the race with runners from all over the Northwest.

Head Coach Brian Kruchoski said that the course was very difficult, going over many different terrains and that it had 180 degree turns, but he also said that his girls were up for the challenge.

“One of the girls on the way to the meet said, she wished that it would snow. So we would have the advantage,” Kruchoski said.

RunnerEvent time
Addison Capozzi22:28.1
Kiley Dennis20:28.6
Skyler Belmear20:34.4
Emily Moore20:48.1
Ada Burrup21:37:6
Ellen Kruchoski22:42.1

The girls from Chugiak were not the only Alaskans there. Also competing were the West Anchorage High School boys team along with Payton Smith from West, Jared Gardiner and Max Johnson from Dimond, and Josh Brower and Preston Merchant from Anchorage Christian Schools. The boys and girls Grace Christian team, Jayna Boonstra from Kenai and Daniel Abramowicz from West Valley also competed.

Abramowicz is the state champion from Alaska for Division I schools, and he cracked 16 minutes with a 15:59.9 finish.

No matter how they finished, the event made for some great experiences for all of the runners going up against some of the top athletes in the Northwest region.

“It’s weird with people like, so much faster because it’s like, I tried to go like with them, which was a mistake,” said Jared Gardiner who finished with a time of 16:29.8. “And I kind of went out too hard, but it’s just, it was fun. It’s fun running with people that are like, really fast like that.”

The NXR Northwest Regional is a seven-state meet where the top finishers usually advance to a national meet, but that has been cancelled this year due to COVID-19 precautions.

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