Hobbs wins boys varsity in Nome XC Invitational
Blue skies, calm winds and balmy temperatures welcomed 98 runners from Nome, Kotzebue, Bethel, Teller, Elim, Koyuk, Golovin, Unalakleet, Stebbins, Savoonga and Brevig Mission to the Nome-Beltz XC Invitational, not counting the huge field of young Elementary School-aged and younger runners that began the race day on Saturday, Sept. 14. The little ones took off for three short distances, with the longest one being a 1-km run. Then followed the mixed Jr. High/JV field with 37 entries that ran the full course of 5 km. The Jr. High/JV race was won by John Soderstrom of Unalakleet, in a time of 20 min. 24 secs. Second was Ethan Fagerstrom of Golovin (20:46), followed by third place winner Orson Hoogendorn of Nome (20:58).
Next came a field of 25 runners for in the Varsity Girls competition, won by Kaila Short of Kotzebue in a time of 23 min 26 sec, followed by Jessica McCall also of Kotzebue (23:46) and Lindsey Beans-Polk of Bethel (23:48). Ava Earthman of Nome finished in fourth place in 24:13.
The boys Varsity race, highly competitive in nature, saw Nome’s Tobin Hobbs finish in first place in a time of 18 min. 39 sec. He fended off Aiden Ivanoff of Unalakleet (18:51) with a substantial lead of 12 seconds. Third placed Jamin Crow of Bethel (18:58). The next Nome racer to cross the finish line was Micah Moore in 13th place(21:16).
Tobin Hobbs said it was a straight forward race on a pretty flat course. “There was not too much wind but enough to tuck in behind people and draft off of them,” he said. “It was very warm at times. The mud was bad in some spots and pretty slippery turning in some corners, but it was a great race.”
His strategy was to hang back, he said and indeed he ran with the front pack and waited until the time was right to make the move. “Halfway through the second lap I noticed that they were getting tired,” Hobbs said. He observed the front runners began to slouch, their heads were getting low and their running got sloppy and lazy. “So that’s when I made my move and passed them and picked up the pace,” Hobbs said. He said his time of 18:39 is not really fast. “I was going for the win, not going fast,” he said. A creek crossing midway through the course gave runners the option to splash through the ankle deep water or to run across a bridge made of pallets. Hobbs preferred to run through the water to cool off a bit. “I just went through the water and it felt really good,” he said. His spikes were light enough to not pick up any dirt so that he could continue unhindered and cruised to victory.
Nome coach Jeff Collins said he loved to see the performace of the Jr High runners. They are a large and active group, and they knew who their competition was and they went after them. “Usually we don’t push our junior high until the get into high school,” said Collins. “To see that the fire is there, is really encouraging.” The varsity girls also ran a very strategic race. He added also that the Nome runners sized up their competition from Bethel and Kotzebue to prepare for the upcoming regional meeting.
Rosa Wright, nee Schmidt, who grew up in Nome and competed as a Nanook in XC races, teaches in Elim now and is the school’s cross-country coach. She said she brought an all-girl, young team from Elim, ranging from sixth to tenth grade. “They had a lot of improvements this year,” she said. She said out of a student body of 45 students, she has sometimes 14 runners.
A Bethel team has not been racing in Nome in recent years. Bethel regional high school head coach Patrick Williams said that Bethel was invited because they will be competing in the Regional Championship that will take place on Sept. 28 in Nome. “We were invited to have the opportunity to race the course before weccompete in regionals,” he said.
He brought five girls and five boys out of team of 15 boys and 10 girls at home. Third place finisher Jamin Crow said the Nome trail is flatter than they’re used to and the creek crossing was a bit “different for us.” He said the flat trail was a nice change of pace and gave them a good opportunity to see how fast they could go. Every race is a challenge, instead of catching ones breath on the uphills, they tried for PR’s on the flat course.
Another objective was to get a better understanding of the competition and they were impressed with the Kotzebue boys and Nome’s Tobin Hobbs. “So, we’re coming for him and now we know what we gotta do,” said coach Williams.