At the State cross country meet on Saturday, Oct. 7, 2023, in Palmer, Cordova’s Floyd Witsoe, seventh from left, receives his medal for finishing third in the State III championship. Photo by Jeff Hamberger

Competing in the fog at Michael Janacek Trails in Palmer, Alaska on Oct. 7, the Cordova High cross- country team had their best performance ever in the State III championships.  

In a field of 80 runners from all over Alaska, CHS senior Floyd Witsoe finished third, with a time of 18:12, and junior Tegan Hesse came in eighth with a 18:49 effort over the 5K course.   

Both would have likely finished higher, but for a mishap early in the crowded start. 

“Floyd got accidentally knocked down and spiked in the first half mile of the race,” said CHS Coach Jeff Hamberger. “Teagan helped him up and they went on to do very well.” 

The Division III race was the first event of the day and started at 10 a.m. Hamberger did not think the conditions were a factor. 

“The course was in pretty good shape, a little damp but not muddy,” he said. “I don’t think the fog slowed them down other than not being able to see the runners 20 meters in front of them.” 

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The individual efforts by all seven CHS runners garnered them a historic second place finish in the team competition.   

The team score is calculated by adding the individual times by the top five finishers. 

Wrangell came in first with 28 points. Cordova finished second with 72 points, followed by Petersburg with 75, Bristol Bay with 101, Haines with 105, and Glennallen with 119. 

Sophomore Sadie Fry was the only Cordova girl entered in the girls’ 5K. She finished with 23:51, which earned her a 12th place finish.  

Hamberger has been coaching track for 25 years, including for 17 years in Cordova. When he first arrived here there was no cross-country program. He plans on retiring at the end of this year. 

“This will be my last year coaching here in Cordova,” he said. “It has been a wonderful time that I wouldn’t trade for anything.” 

Individual times and places 

Floyd Witsoe – 3rd – 18:12 

Tegan Hesse – 8th – 18:49 

Karl Griffith – 28th – 20:17 

Levi Pearson – 33rd – 20:26 

Samuel Polido – 62nd – 22:18 

Jacob Hamberger – 63rd – 22:18 

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