Last year he was about the 14th J2 in Alaska in the Junior Nationals qualifiers, and 8th on the high school team. He's worked consistently to improve his skiing and running, rarely missing a workout, but not overly intense about it either. His goals this year were simply to be a scoring member (top 4) for his high school ski team and to make Team Alaska (top 8) for Junior Nationals, here in Fairbanks. He acheived those, and to understate things a bit, then some, surprising me and just about anyone.
Last month finishing top 10 at state and putting his relay into first place with a stellar third leg, helped them win thje over all title: that was above and beyond anyoyne's expectations for a skinny 15 year old sophomore. How can you top that off?
Well this week at Cross Country Junior Nationals he has done just that, and we're only half way through the competition. His training has been pretty chill since state. Just some sharpening workouts and a lot of recovery. We didn't talk much about expectations and goals. This is his first Junior Nationals and I figured just getting the experience was the most important thing. However, on Monday morning I woke up and thought, hey a top 10 was possible. He'd been looking good, healthy, and seemed relaxed. However, I didn't want to increase any tension so kept very quiet.
Just get out there and ski, and have fun competing!
Wow, just wow. Bolstered by the excellent results at the state meet, he was seeded in the bracket with the top seeded skiers in the 5K interval start race. I kept some splits and as he ate up a New England skier who had started out 30 sec ahead on White Bear Access, with a half a km to go it looked good. He had about a dozen who had started behind, and as I wrote down their finishes times I could tell he was ahead of all but one or two. Only teammate Max Donaldson was skiing visibly faster!
A 4th place finish. Beyond any expectations.
With Alaska going 1,3,4 on Monday, things looked mighty good for the 3X 3.3K classic relay. Lanky and powerful Jacob Bassett took the lead from the start with the fastest leg of the day, but New England was only 4 seconds down as Tristan charged up Stadium Hill. At about 1K in, his lead was about 6 seconds and he looked in control. He maintained that lead through about 2.5K. Again on the tough climb up White Bear Access, and over the tricky Sidewinder corner, he put the hammer down and pulled away, extending that lead to nearly 20 seconds (I had 19 on my watch). With the diminutive but mighty "Big Max" at anchor it was all but a done deal. Max cruised to an easy 35 second national championship victory for the J2 boys.
Two more races to go a freestyle sprint and 5K classic. Again, all expecations off the table for this week. Just ski well my boy and soak up the experience.