Boy crossing finish line

The Nome Cross Country team had a beautiful day for their home invitational meet Sept. 11. Dozens of Nomites drove out to the Nome-Beltz Middle High School to cheer on the racers as they crossed the finish line.

Nome Beltz Middle High School coach, Jeff Collins says the enthusiasm of the home crowd makes a big difference on his team and the other team’s performance.

“It’s the energy — just the energy of the hometown crowd. People here in Nome are so supportive, and there are people who come out not just for Nome’s team. Brevig Mission is out here. White Mountain is out here. And there are all those community members coming out to support all those teams. So the energy is just really high. It’s a really positive environment. It’s just a great experience for the kids,” Collins said.

In addition to the Brevig Mission and White Mountain cross country teams, Nome hosted teams from Teller and Kotzebue.

The event kicked off with the Nome Elementary School Running Club’s race and the Junior High Race. Benjamin Milton, Keanan Barr and Erikson Young took first, second and third for the Junior High School boys with their times of 21 minutes, 24 seconds and 22:07 respectively. Barr is from White Mountain while both Milton and Erikson ran for Nome. In the girl’s Junior High Division, first second and third were snatched up by Jocelyn Takak, Renee Brown, both from Nome, and Lana Ashenfelter from White Mountain. Takak’s winning time was 26:46. Brown took second with 26:54, while Ashenfelter placed third with a time of 28:04.

Then came the high school varsity races.

AwaLuk Nichols, a freshman from Nome won the high school girls’ varsity race with a time of 23:17 seconds. This is the first race Nichols has won in high school and to do it, she stressed the importance of discipline both on and off the field,

“Usually I just work hard at the practices my coach gives me. And then out of practice I … eat good, sleep good,” Nichols said.

Zaida Baldwin came in second with a time of 24:39. Della Medlin took third at 24:41 seconds. Kaila Short ran the race in 25:03 seconds, and Natallie Tobuk took fifth with a time of 26:35 seconds. The top five athletes are from Nome and Kotzebue.

The boys’ top five results saw a similar showing of Nome and Kotzebue athletes. Winner Son Erikson took the top spot for Nome with his time of 18:55 seconds. Aiden Ivanoff placed second for Kotzebue with a time of 19:21 seconds. While Orson Hoogendorn and Gregg Finn, both from Nome, placed third and fourth with times of 19:24 and 19:29 respectively. Ezra Jones from Kotzebue rounded out the top five with his time of 19:40 seconds.

Coach Collins was proud to see so many of his athletes in the top five.

“It’s one Nome kid after another. There was no break in cheering,” Collins said.

He expressed his pride in his team, stating that the boys have been doing particularly well this season. The mostly freshman and sophomore boys’ team is ranked 4th in the state according to athletic.net. Collins praised his athletes’ energy and dedication, stating that even the Nome Junior Varsity athletes are running so strong, they would qualify for varsity anywhere else.

The crowd behind him certainly seemed to echo his praise, as they cheered one athlete after another on to the finish line.

Nome’s Cross Country team next travels to Kotzebue for the Kotzebue Northwest Arctic meet this coming Saturday.

Image at top: Nome’s finish line. Photo by Joe Coleman, 2019.