State champions crowned in three different divisions of high school cross-country

Alaska State Cross Country Running in all three divisions
Published: Oct. 9, 2022 at 5:49 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Athletes from across Alaska converged on the Bartlett High School trails for the 2022 ASAA State Cross Country Running Championships.

446 athletes ran 5,000 meters at the Bartlett High School trails but only six were crowned state champions. In the lowest division, it was an athlete from the smallest team in the field who placed first. Taylor Eddington from Tri-Valley is the only Viking that runs cross country and had to train alone all season.

“I guess it is kind of hard to motivate myself to run faster without a team encouraging me, but I have family to encourage me,” girl’s Division 3 champion Eddington said.

Taylor Eddington-Tri-Valley20:29
Ari’el Godinez Long-Haines20:43
Ourea Busk-Unalakleet20:56
Pagen Lester-Bristol Bay21:31
Teagan Rude-Glennallen21:46

In Div. 3, Daniel Harrison won the boy’s race, winning by six seconds, Harrison helped bring the Wrangell Wolves their first team title in cross country since the 1990′s. The Wolves had five runners in the top ten proving that all of that training during the season really paid off.

“I am so pumped, this is what I came here to do this year. We have been training hard and we have definitely put in the work and it feels amazing. I couldn’t be happier. This is what I came here to do, so I am so pumped,” Harrison said.

Daniel Harrison-Wrangell17:30
Daniel Aspery-Petersburg17:36
Luke Davis-Haines17:48
Devlyn Campbell-Wrangell18:03
Andrew Hansen-Haines18:16

For the Div. 2 girls, it came right down to the end between two Sitka runners: senior Anna Prussian and sophomore Clare Mullin. They almost crossed the line together but the senior would take the crown in her final high school race.

“It feels really amazing. It was kind of emotional racing with her one last time. She and I train together every single day so we have a really good connection on the course. We know when to go together and it was really nice,” Prussian said.

Anna Prussian-Sitka20:01
Clare Mullin-Sitka20:02
Jayna Boonstra-Kenai20:23
Megan Nelson-Grace Christian20:41
Hailey Ingalls-Seward20:46

Geremu Daggett and Colton Merriner, both Grace Christian runners, were about to finish in the top 15 when Merriner collapsed and was having a hard time getting back up just steps away from the finish line. Daggett, instead of crossing the finish line, stopped and went back to help his teammate — basically having to drag Merriner across the line. Merriner is okay and even though helping his teammate resulted in Daggett losing his individual standing he says he wouldn’t change a thing.

“Well, the consequences didn’t really pass through my mind at the moment. It was just more Colton has been working really hard this season. Everyone on our team has, and I’m like, he has to finish this race. I am not just going to leave him, I would feel bad if I just left him,” Daggett continued. “I would not take anything back because I don’t know what would have happened. I don’t really know the plan that God has so he had me there, and I helped Colton finish. I finished and it was awesome today.”

David Sliwinski-Grace Christian15;55
Seamus McDonough-Homer15:57
Robbie Annett-Grace Christian16:34
Annan Weiland-Sitka16:44
Silas Demmert-Sitka16:56

The Div. 1 girls’ race was won by Campbell Peterson, who has competed in nine races this year and won all nine. Peterson lead the race from start to finish and she finally captured the elusive individual state championship after finishing as the runner-up last season. Peterson was highlighted as Alaska’s New’s Source Athlete of the Week leading up to state and proved that she is not only a good runner but a good person.

“More than the victory or anything, I hope to leave behind just a positive impression of how you should treat people. I guess, after the race, during the race, before the race, just being really friendly — being really nice and appreciating that anyone that comes out here is amazing,” Peterson said.

Campbell Peterson-Chugiak19:16
Sophia Jedlicki-Soldotna19:36
Addison Capozzi-Chugiak19:47
Etta Eller-Juneau19:48
tani Boonstra-Soldotna19:52

In the Div. 1 boy’s race, it was a toss-up. No runner has dominated this season with different winners every week. In the end, it was Matthew Rongitsch, a recent transfer to Colony High School from North Dakota. Rongitsch wins his first and last race on Alaskan soil.

“I don’t know man, it’s amazing. Nothing I have ever experienced before obviously, I have never taken first place in something this crazy. I have no complaints, I’m very happy, ” Rongitsch said.

Matthew Rongitsch-Colony16:13
Zac Cheyette-Colony16:29
Tobias Buchanan-Colony16:39
Blaise Boyer-South16:39
Henry Michener-Eagle River16:49

To see the complete list of results from all of the divisions you can do so by clicking here.