Cross Country “Hit the Ground Running”

The 2016 Dimond Cross Country team “hit the ground running,” according to manager Shayla Blood.

Coach Nathaniel Normandin said that, “Pre-season training is hard for us in general because it’s during the summer, so a lot of people don’t really get together much. But once the season actually starts, that’s where I get to finally see where everyone’s actually been up to.

“Struggles-wise, I was pretty impressed with the team at the beginning of the year because from last year to this year they made some strides forward. They actually looked quite a bit better than they did the previous year.”

Blood said that the whole team was “always excited to be [at practice] and at races, and everyone always cheered for their teammates.”

At the first official meet of the season at Kincaid park against East Anchorage and Service High, senior Kylie Judd placed first for the girls with a run time of 12 minutes and 12 seconds. Sophomore Cameron Sheldon placed first for the boys with a time of 10 minutes and 30 seconds.

A few weeks further into the season, at the Tsalteshi Invitational, the girls’ varsity team placed third out of the 17 participating teams. Senior Kylie Judd took sixth place, and senior Ruth Cvancara took 24th in the 5,000 meter race.

“The meets that kids seem to enjoy the most are the ones that aren’t in town,” Normandin said. “We went down to Skyview Middle School in Soldotna, and they have a race down at the Tsalteshi Ski Area. It’s a normal [five kilometer race] like all of the others, but because it’s a trip with their friends, so it ends up being quite momentous in that regard.

“Athletically, a lot of [the runners] saw personal records for themselves down there too, so it’s just a fun trip all together: they see improvement, they get to hang out with their friends, and meet a lot of people on the team.”

On September 24th at Bartlett High School, the Region IV Championships didn’t go as well as the team hoped, as none of the varsity boys qualified for the state meet.

However, the girls’ junior varsity team placed second.

“Throughout the season this year, they were really stepping it up, and then probably three or four weeks ago, about half of the varsity team got sick, and didn’t end up running very well at Regions,” Normandin said. “The girls still made state, and even at state, they did better than they did at Regions.”

Sophomore Julia Alfano placed fourth, setting a personal record with a time of 21 minutes and 50 seconds in the 3.1 mile race. Junior Ally Carney also set a personal record, placing eighth with a time of 22 minutes and 19 seconds.

Blood also mentioned that, “A lot of runners were [performing] much better by the end of the season, and the entire girl’s varsity made it to state.”

Come October first at the Bartlett Trails, the top two finishers from Dimond, seniors Kylie Judd and Ruth Cvancara, placed 22nd and 23rd respectively out of the 81 competing girls.