FAIRBANKS — Led by junior Brooke Lizotte, the Lathrop girls swept the top three individual spots in Saturday’s Region VI Cross Country Championships and the Malemutes claimed the team title for the second straight year.
Lizotte was followed across the finish line by teammates Megan Kubichek and Allison Hebard as the Malemutes compiled 22 points to beat West Valley with 34. Autumn Fournier finished fifth for Lathrop and Charlene Davis was 11th to round out Lathrop’s scoring.
“We ran well today and a couple of kids really stepped up,” Lathrop assistant coach Chad Carroll said, noting Hebard and Fournier turned in outstanding efforts to give West Valley four of the top five finishers.
“The main thing today is that they all stayed confident throughout the race,” Lathrop head coach Kevin Brinegar said after the Malemutes successfully defended their Region IV title. “That’s a big step forward for these girls.”
It’s been almost 20 years since the Malemutes have won back-to-back girls titles. The last time it happened was in 1993-94, according to Brinegar.
Lizotte was on her own for most of the way as she broke away from her teammates to finish the hilly 5-kilometer race in 19 minutes, 22.9 seconds.
“It was good and the weather was exceptional,” she said. “Any time you run a race here you know it’s going to be hilly and hard.”
Lizotte was thrilled with the efforts of her teammates on a warm afternoon.
“Last year we finished 1-2 and this year we stepped it up to go 1-2-3,” she said. “Everyone did great.”
Lizotte said she and her teammates are ready for next weekend’s state championships in Anchorage.
“We’re definitely ready to go down there and compete,” Lizotte said.
Lathrop and West Valley both qualified full teams for the state meet next Saturday at Bartlett High School in Anchorage.
Kubichek was just under a minute behind Lizotte with a run of 10:19.1. Hebard crossed the line in 21:39.0 and Fournier posted a 21:49.9.
West Valley’s Julia Sherman had the best race of her career, finishing fourth in 21:43.3 to lead the Wolfpack, who had six of the top 10 finishers.
“That was a big breakthrough for Julia,” said West Valley coach Dan Callahan. “We’ve talked about running as a group and that’s what they did today.”