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Galena runners hopeful headed to regionals

Galena runner Bethany Grant at the Palmer Invitational Meet on Sept. 8.

Galena runner Bethany Grant at the Palmer Invitational Meet on Sept. 8.

By SHELBY KILLINGSWORTH, staff writer

Our outstanding Galena Hawks cross-country athletes for the three regular season meets are Lucas Echenique and Carlee Merriner, said coach Molissa Wightman in an email.

According to Athletic.net, Lucas is ranked as number one in the 3A/2A/1A Region 6 ranking on Sept. 13. Carlee is ranked fourth in Region 6.

Lucas is a freshman and has raced extremely well and has placed in the top 10 in all of his competitions. Carlee is our first runner and she has also placed in her competitions. Carlee is a good leader and does a great job organizing warm ups, stretching, and drills, coach Wightman said.

The Birch Hill race, which was run on August 25, was a tough course because there are a ton of hills, said coach Wightman. It also rained the night before so it was wet and muddy. Spikes were important for the varsity runners.

“We had beautiful weather for the ACS and Palmer meets. ACS is 3 kilometer race and is mainly flat and on pavement. We don’t race in spikes on that course. Palmer has smaller hills and it was windy that day. The runners had to finish against a strong headwind on the finishing stretch. The course in Su Valley is a 3-lapper and there is a medium-size hill on each lap. The weather was warm and sunny,” said coach Wightman.

“Our strategy going into regionals and state is to do some long runs and speed work at the start of the week and follow that with easy paced running, strides, and drills the rest of the week. We are just working on maintaining our fitness, keeping our legs fresh, and taking care of our bodies,” she said.

“Some of our teammates are dealing with injuries and aches and pains. We want them to be as healthy as possible for the next two weekends of competition.”

Kaleb Korta, class of 2016, and Jacob Moos, class of 2018, supported our runners at two of the meets. They cheered on the team at ACS and they watched this past weekend (Sept. 15) at Su Valley. The team ate lunch with them at Mountain High Pizza Pie in Talkeetna.

“I asked Jacob to give advice to the team before the ACS race and he said, “Run like Lucas.” He’s a man of few words,” said coach Wightman.

“For regionals we need our boys team to be healthy and ready to compete. The Hutchison Hawks have a good boys team and we’ll need all of our runners to have great races in order to place first at regionals.”

“We’d like to see our top five girls race closer together. They have been spread out more this year. Our sixth and seventh runners have an important role to play as well. They help us to displace other runners in the region and also determine a winner in case of a tied team score. We want to see tough running and fast finishes. Our biggest competition on the girls side is the Monroe Rams. They have three really fast girls,” she said.