Petersburg High School’s cross country team poses for a photo at a virtual meet, Friday, Sept. 11. They ran a course at Green’s Camp at the southern end of Mitkof Island. (Photo by Debby Eddy)

Petersburg High School’s cross country team participated in their first in-person cross country meet of the year in Klawock last week. Then this past weekend the team competed in a virtual meet. KFSK’s Angela Denning has more:

Klawock is on Prince of Wales Island and runners came over from nearby Craig to participate in the meet as well. There were just 19 boys and 10 girls in total.

Still, it was worth the trip over, says Petersburg sophomore, Alexus Sakamoto Quezon. She led the girls finishing in first place.

“It was my first time heading to Klawock so it was a great experience,” she said.

Although the Petersburg team had mild weather and a fast boat ride, it was a long day for the runners. They woke up at 5 a.m. in Petersburg to leave Banana Point early. They arrived in Coffman Cove, took an hour long bus ride to Klawock, raced, and then immediately returned home to Petersburg.

The race trail in Klawock was mostly flat with one hill at the end, according to Petersburg runners. It was about a tenth of a mile longer than other cross country courses so times were a bit slower.

Senior Julian Cumps has been on a lot of race trails and he describes Klawock’s this way:

“It’s pretty fast, it’s all on the pavement though so it’s a little hard to run on because it’s all hard,” Cumps said. “It’s just a lot of pounding and when you’re on the soft stuff you have more give.”

Other Petersburg runners agreed that pavement is not the favored trail surface. They much prefer dirt.

“I feel like it’s harder to run on pavement because if you have any injuries like on your knees, or maybe your shins or ankles it kind of hurts those areas,” she said.

Most runners choose to wear spikes for better traction when they’re running but that does backfire on pavement. Just ask sophomore, DD Toyomura. She brought spikes and had no other running shoes with her on the trip.

“I just went on the side of the road, it wasn’t like pavement, it was kind of more in the ditch but it was softer than running on the road,” said Toyomura.

Junior Uriah Lucas led all runners to the finish line by a minute and a half. He says he knew that would probably be the case so he just focused on pushing himself.

“I would have probably raced way better if someone had been up with me, but I just try to keep my form,” Lucas said. “Basically, lift your heels, try not to heel strike, and stuff like that.”

Lucas led the pack again this past weekend when the cross country team participated in another virtual meet against several other small teams. The teams chose race courses that were similar and organizers used formulas for comparing finish times. Petersburg’s team ran a course at Green’s Camp at the southern end of Mitkof Ilsand.

Teams participating besides Petersburg included Wrangell, Craig, Klawock, Metlakatla, Haines, and Unalaska. There were 47 boys and 26 girls total.

Lucas finished in a time of 17 minutes, 2 seconds. He was followed by Luke Davis of Haines and Carson Crager of Haines. Petersburg Junior Michael Durkin finished in fourth place for the boys and Junior Chase Lister finished in 9th.

DD Toyomura is followed by Alexus Sakamoto Quezon in a virtual cross country meet held at Green’s Camp on Mitkof Island, Sept. 11. (Photo by Debby Eddy)

For the girls, Haines took the top six places. Petersburg’s Alexus Sakamoto Quezon finished in 8th place and DD Toyomura finished in 10th place.

Cumps says there are positives and negatives about having virtual meets versus in-person.

“For all of our virtual meets it’s nice because we’re here so we know our course. It’s home so we can practice on it, so we’re used to it,” Cumps said. “But then, it’s weird not having the element of other teams and other runners there with you. In some ways it just doesn’t feel like a race all the way. And with so many less people it’s a little [harder] to gauge yourself, especially if you’re used to running with people all around you.”

This year the cross country state meet will be totally different. It’s scheduled for October 10 in Anchorage. They are not allowing teams to qualify this year only individual runners. To keep meet numbers low they will only be allowing the top 14 runners in Petersburg’s Division II to from Southeast. There will only be 30 runners in that Division statewide.