The Seward Phoenix Log - News of the Eastern Kenai Peninsula since 1966

By Tommy Wells
Seward Phoenix LOG 

Oh so close!

Lindquist narrowly misses state XC title


October 5, 2017 | View PDF

Tommy Wells

Seward standout Ruby Lindquist runs stride-for-stride with Anchorage Christian's Tessa O'Hara (right) as Homer's Autumn Daigle runs behind during the mid-stages of the Alaska State Cross-Country race on Saturday. Lindquist powered her way to the lead. She led the race all the way until the last 20 yards before Daigle caught her.

ANCHORAGE – For the first 4.9 kilometers of Saturday's Alaska State Cross-Country Championships, Seward High School senior Ruby Lindquist pushed herself unmercifully and turned in the race of her life. Unfortunately for Lindquist, rival Autumn Daigle also ran the best race of her life – especially over the final 100 meters.

Daigle, who spent much of the race chasing Lindquist and Anchorage Christian's Tessa O'Hara, managed to catch and pass her biggest rival – and close friend – just 10 yards from the finish line and help write a finish that became an instant classic.

"I still can't believe that happened," said Daigle. "She (Lindquist) is just so good. I never dreamed anything like this. Honestly, considering how she and Tessa had done at the Region III meet, I thought I was looking at third."

Lindquist certainly did her part to make Daigle's thoughts a reality. A 4-time state qualifier, she managed to survive a crowd start of more than 135 runners at Bartlett High School. By the first uphill segment of the 5-kilometer trail, she and O'Hara were already running stride-for-stride, with Daigle running behind them.

Lindquist dispensed with O'Hara midway through the race. Her pressure enabled her to race to the lead at the 3K mark. By the start of the 4K mark, Lindquist's pace had sapped O'Hara – the Region III champion – of her energy.

"I didn't really know if I could beat them," said Daigle, a sophomore who finished more than 30 seconds behind O'Hara at the Region III meet a week earlier. "I couldn't even see them around the corners. All I could see was movement between the trees. Then I saw Tessa start to drop back and I knew I could get Tessa."

By the start of the final 1,000 meters, the only runner within shouting distance of Lindquist was Daigle.

From there, Daigle said, months and months at having run behind Lindquist paid off.

"I've run behind her so much it is crazy," she said. "I started to see her getting tired. Her arms were swinging and her head was bouncing around. You would only know that if you had run behind her as many times as I have. She is such a strong, beautiful runner. But I knew she was getting tired."

Knowing Lindquist was weary from pushing O'Hara, Daigle said, she still didn't think she had a chance at catching her friend, but she decided to relax and gain what she could over the downhill stretch leading into the final stretch.

"I started running and working so hard," she said. "Ruby was so far ahead. I knew the end was a downhill and I could gain on her. When I came around the corner and I saw her running, I said 'I can do this.' Then I was in the chute and all of the adrenaline was going and I was like 'I can't feel my legs so let's go.'"

Approximately 20 yards from the finish, Daigle managed to do the unthinkable.

She strode across the finish line in a winning time of 19 minutes, 30 seconds. Lindquist, who placed in the top three in each of the last three state cross-country meets, crossed the finish line at 19:35 and collapsed into the arms of friends, officials and coaches.

Making Lindquist's impressive outing even more impressive was the influence her assault on the trail had on the rest of the Lady Seahawks. En route to helping lead Seward to third in the team standings, Lindquist's run highlighted a meet in which four of the team's seven runners posted personal-bests.

Few pushed themselves harder than Emma Moore. A senior, she raced her way to fifth overall with a run of 20:17.

Just how impressive was Moore's run? Consider this: Her final time was a 33 second improvement over the mark she posted a week earlier at the Region III Cross-Country Championships. It was also more than 1 minute faster than the time she had recorded in the season's first meet in Anchorage in August – and almost one-and-a-half minutes better than the time she notched on the same course during the 2016 state meet.

"I think they did so amazing," said Hana Cooney. "I think, as a team, we really tried to step it up. I'm proud of all the hard work every one of the girls did."

Cooney was among the Lady Seahawks' record-setting group. A freshman, she joined Lindquist, Moore and junior Sadie Lindquist in placing in the top 20.

"I think I did all right," she said. "I know I went out and did the best I could. I think I ran harder than I even thought I could."

Cooney stepped across the finish line in 12th place overall with a personal-best time of 21:03.

"All I know is at the end I was feeling pretty bad," she said.

The younger sister of Ruby, Sadie Lindquist finished 16th overall. Only a few weeks since being forced to miss a varsity meet due to medical concerns, the junior sprinted her way to a time of 21:30 – a mark that made her the third member of her family to finish in the top 20 at the state meet. Her younger brother, Neil, placed eighth in the boys' Division II race.

Not to be outdone, sophomores Kalista Rodriguez and Sophia Down also came up huge for Seward. Rodriguez legged out a career-best time of 22:47 and finished 30th overall. Down posted her best time ever, finishing 51st with a time of 23:38.

Shiprah Brueckner also turned in a solid performance for Seward. A junior, she ran her way to 98th with a mark of 25:43.


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