Nome hosted Barrow, Bethel, and Kotzebue for the Big West Cross-Country Invitational on September 28th. The top varsity girls’ and boys’ teams, as well as the top eight individuals, from this meet qualified for the state meet.
Nome cross country coach Jeff Collins says that the goal is for the only Nanook boy qualifier to finish in the top fifteen at the state meet.
“We had three individuals qualify for state. One boy, Tobin Hobbs, who ended up winning the boys race in a pretty commanding lead. He lost by one second last year and did some work this summer to ensure that did not happen again.”
The other two qualifiers came from the Nanooks’ girls’ varsity squad. Ava Earthman took fourth place and the last qualifier was Natalie Tobuk in eighth.
“As a freshman she will get the opportunity to see how the state meet runs and get some state experience, which is always beneficial, especially with the young teams we have this year.”– Nome Coach Jeff Collins
Despite having three athletes qualify, Nome-Beltz teams did not advance to states. However, two of the other competing Big West teams, the Bethel boys and Kotzebue girls’ teams, won their respective races and will move on to the state meet. Coach Collins says this year’s state meet will have a new format.
“This year they pulled the 1A/2A out and I really think this is a beneficial thing for the smaller schools because what it does is it allows them to pull from the resources they have.”
This means that smaller schools, who might have difficulties recruiting the five runners needed to be a scoring team, now only need three. Collins specifically cited Noatak, among others, as an example of schools that could benefit, with top runner Amos Sage impressing him throughout this season.
For BSSD runners, district cross country championships wrapped up last Saturday also, with Savoonga winning the varsity boys race and St. Michael winning for the girls. [Results are below, or online at athletic.net]
As the season wraps up for the Nanook cross country, Coach Collins says he saw this season as a great building year.
“We had a lot of big improvements with some athletes improving as much as two and a half minutes within the 5K distance. But overall, every single person has improved regardless of their speed, which is something that doesn’t normally happen.”
Collins looks forward to the continued development of his teams in the seasons to come, especially since he says athletic.net has his junior high boys ranked first in the state.
For now, three of Nome’s runners will get more experience at the state meet this Saturday at Bartlett high school in Anchorage.
Photo at top: Tobin Hobbs Wins Big West Invite. Photo: Joe Coleman/KNOM. Photos below (from left to right): Kotzebue and Nome-Beltz runners have a race to the finish, a Nanook cross country runner nears the finish, Tobin Hobbs crosses the finish line first during the Big West Invitational.