Nanook runners enjoy mud at State XC Championships
The Nome-Beltz cross-country squad ran at the Alaska Cross Country State Championships and found the muddy Bartlett course to their liking. When Bartlett gets some rain the course can get very slippery.
“Mallory Conger was so excited, she wanted to get as muddy as possible,” said Nanook XC Coach Devin Tatro. “They were all cheering when they saw the mud. They couldn’t wait for it.”
Coach Tatro took the entire girls team of seven to state as they won the regional title in Bethel. Three boys, Tobin Hobbs, Ben Cross and David Miller, qualified for the championship as well.
Tatro was familiar with the Bartlett course, having been there before. She described it as good for her runners. “They don’t want a flat course,” she said. “They like a course with a huge hill, or a sandpit, or a rock field. They want an engaging course.” The Bartlett course, which also serves for cross-country ski races, is very hilly with low sections which get swampy.
“It was muddy. It was very slippery. All of my athletes had nine-millimeter spikes drilled into their shoes and they were prepared for mud. The fortunate part is they were confident going in because we had been racing on some really beat up courses this year. At our regions in Bethel they were slopping through mud the entire time. They were up in White Mountain a few weeks ago on a muddy course. They barely bat an eyelash on the mud.”
The Nugget asked how the runners handled the wild charge the first half-mile of the race. “All our runners, both boys and girls, they know how to run smart,” replied the coach. “They raced at Talkeetna and afterwards made a plan to go out more conservatively until they hit around 1,000 meters or two. I was proud because when I saw them come through I could tell they weren’t panicking.” When a field is going out too fast it’s tough not to go with them. “They talked it over and made a plan about staying in control, using each other as a reference and just staying in control of the race. They were able to maintain that level-headedness with each others’ support.”
At the end of the season it’s a good time to look into the future. What will the Nanook cross-country teams look like next year? “We’re graduating Starr Erikson who’s been a leader on our team for the past four years. We’re graduating Ben Cross, who has been a solid varsity runner. Other varsity athletes are graduating as well,” said coach Tatro. “The girls team is keeping most of the varsity runners. Some of the underclassmen stepped up. Alicyn Bahnke stepped up.”
She mentioned Katelyn Tocktoo as one who has done well. “Bethany Daniel had a breakout season this year and she’s a senior next year. So the girls are only going to get stronger. On the boys’ side David Miller burst onto the scene this year with so much heart and so much determination and he had successful freshman year. I can’t wait to see where he goes. Tobin Hobbs has had a breakout season and he’s stepping up to be one of the fastest runners we’ve had at Nome-Beltz.”
Nome-Beltz results at the Alaska State Cross Country Championships:
40. Tobin Hobbs, 18:24; 58. Ben Cross, 18:59; 61. David Miller, 19:03.
25. Bethany Daniel, 22:06; 41. Starr Erikson, 22:44; 79. Ava Earthman, 24:47; 80. Alicyn Bahnke, 24:48; 90. Mallory Conger, 25:15; 98. Katelyn Tocktoo, 25:45; 125. Daynon Medlin, 28:13.