Bethel Warriors host Invitational Sand Pit Race

by Greg Lincoln

High school girls cross country runners race down the course at one of the toughest races in Alaska – the Sand Pit Run – in Bethel last Saturday. Teams from 16 communities participated in the event.

Bethel’s premier cross country race, dubbed one of the toughest courses in Alaska, took place last Saturday and the results are here. Runners from grades 4th through 12th participated in the Sand Pit Race event located off of BIA Road. There were a total of four races, 4th-8th girls, 4th-8th boys, high school girls, and high school boys.

High school boys hustle down the first hill at the Bethel Sand Pit Race held last Saturday morning.

Teams from Akiachak, Akiak, Akiuk, Akula, Aniak, Bethel, Chefornak, Chevak, Emmonak, Hooper Bay, Kongiganak, Russian Mission, Scammon Bay, Tuluksak, Tununak, and Tuntutuliak participated in the race.

Mr. Saltzman, Coach for the Bethel Warriors XC team, was on his ATV grooming the trails. Staff and volunteers helped with the finish line, spotting, and marking the route, and with the sack lunches for the runners.

The day was windy but dry, the first race began at 10am with the elementary and junior high girls. The last race was the high school boys at 11:45am. Race fans lined the starting and finishing chutes to cheer on their racers, and old friends greeted each other in between races. Everyone was happy to be at the Pit.

Winning the 4th-6th girls race was Maya Iverson of Gladys Jung Elementary of Bethel. Her time was 12:36. Coming in second was Nurataaq Lefferts of Ayaprun Elitnaurvik. Alexandra Aguchak of Chevak took the third spot with a time of 13:45.

For the 4th-8th boys, Chevak runners swept the top four spots. Cayson Ulroan finished first with a time of 11:45 followed by three brothers – twin Arjey McDonald, Jabari McDonald, and other twin Rajon McDonald. Bennet Sorg of Gladys took the top 5 position.

Junior high girls ran with the 4th-6th graders. Winning by a landslide was Bethel Regional High’s Claire Dyment, her time was 11:57. Second place was taken by Sasha Charlie of Scammon Bay, her time was 12:53. Ali Night of Chevak took third, 5 seconds behind Charlie.

The junior high boys had two Bethel runners winning first and second. Cole Iverson crossed the finish line at 10:24 for the gold medal, followed by Silas Lefferts for the silver. In third was Chevak’s Thomas Joe with a time of 11:16.

The high school girls were next. Bethel sophomore runner, Rosemarie Dyment (sister to Claire Dyment) took the top spot with ease with a time of 25:35 with over a 2 minute cushion. Her teammate junior Kyana Harpak was the runner up with a time of 27:48. Coming in third place was Hooper Bay’s freshman Erica Aguchak.

The Dyments dedicated their race in memory of their Ap’a Alois Lincoln of Toksook Bay who was a proud supporter of participation in sports and athletics in their family.

The final race was the high school boys. Three Bethel Warriors swept the podium. Junior Ned Peters won the event in under 20 minutes, his finishing time was 19:59. In second place was Jackson Iverson, a freshman. His time was 21:03. Madden Cockcroft finished in third at 21:36.

There were some simultaneous finishes at the event. In the high school boys race Ace Hill of Chevak and Sheldon Smith of the Bethel Warriors finished at 21:49 with Hill slightly edging Smith for the 5th place. Smith was 6th.

Another close finish was between Tuluksak’s Jeremiah Napoka and Scammon Bay’s Onan Kasayuli. They finished at 27:42.

In the high school girls race Hannah Leinberger of Bethel (8th) and Abbigail Mael of Chefornak (9th) crossed at 30:06.

Thomas Joe of Chevak and Floyd Boyscout of Bethel also battled at the finish line in the Junior High boys race. They both crossed the line at 11:16. At 17:20 Sancho Angaiak of Tununak and Richard Wolf of Aniak also had a close finish.

Students in the BRHS 3D Engineering class created the race trophy plaques for the top 2 high school teams and top 10 finishers received medals and ribbons. Bethel Warrior seniors were recognized during the awards ceremony and were presented gifts and flowers.

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