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By SPENCER GLEASON
Daily News Sports Editor
Make no mistake about it.
The Ketchikan High School cross country team is ready to hit the ground running.
Since practices started on July 31, head coach Leigh Woodward has brought her squad up to speed, with several participating in the Blueberry Arts Festival Fun Run on Aug. 3.
And Woodward’s team made a statement in the Fun Run, with three of the top five spots — in both the men’s and women’s 5K results — belonging to Kayhi runners.
Sophomore Mickey Lapinski, and freshmen Owen Woodward and Brayden Gentry took three of the top five results for men.
Freshman Anneliese Hiatt, junior Morgan Elerding and sophomore Ruby McCue placed first, second and third, respectively, in the women’s results.
But that was just for fun. That’ll change on Saturday, when Kayhi will race for real.
Ketchikan’s cross country team will hit the starting line of its season on Saturday morning when Kayhi travels to Juneau to compete against the Crimson Bears’ squad, along with the Sitka High School and Thunder Mountain High School cross country teams, for its first official meet of 2019.
The 5K race is set to begin at 10 a.m.
“I’m excited,” Dwight King said. “I don’t know where my time will be, but I know I’ve improved a lot.”
King’s personal record sits at 18:17, which he set last season. He’s hoping to break the 18 minute mark this year.
“Maybe 17:30,” he said with a smile. “I feel like that’s doable.”
Ketchikan’s team has nearly 30 names listed. And the girls’ squad received a big boost in numbers this season.
“I definitely have more girls this year, which is great,” Woodward said. “I graduated a lot of older boys last year. The boys’ team might be looking a little sparse. But our girls’ team is looking great, I think.
“For years, we’ve just had six or seven girls. It feels like it’s been a while since we’ve had a full 10 or so girls.”
Nearly everyone on roster will be traveling to Juneau, with a few staying behind due to summer work schedules.
But starting the season before school begins is A-OK with Woodward.
“I kind of feel fortunate that half of my season is in the summer,” she said. “Because I feel like I can focus on it a little more. (I) just to have this time to focus on the team, and get everyone set up. I like that.”
Kayhi’s first day of classes is Aug. 29.
“Once school starts, it feels like our season is half over,” she continued. “It goes fast. And by that time we’re already dialed in in our practices, and we’re already in a routine of traveling every weekend.”
Ketchikan’s lone home meet this season is on Sept. 21 at Ward Lake.
The regional meet will be on Sept. 28 in Sitka, and the state meet is on Oct. 5.