That’s what happens when you have the best runner in the state in senior Levi Thomet and a solid supporting cast.
“Their goal is set on being at the top of the podium at state,” Kodiak coach Marcus Dunbar said. “We are not shooting for anything less than that. We have had too many third places in a row that we just want to jump right past second.”
Kodiak has finished third at the state championships two years running, while Thomet has won the past two state individual titles.
Barring a setback, Thomet, who ended last season national ranked, should breeze to his third state title on Oct. 4, which would tie him with Trevor Dunbar for the most cross country state individual titles in the boys’ program. Dunbar is now a professional runner for Nike.
Of course, Thomet has something bigger in his sights. Marcus said his star runner would like to finish the season with a top-5 finish at the Foot Locker Cross Country National Championships, a meet he finished 16th at last year.
“He looks like he is set to do that,” Marcus said. “I think he set his goals high to the point, as far as the Alaska season, he is using it as a preseason for what he will be doing later.”
Thomet enters Saturday’s official 5-kilometer season opener at Tsalteshi Invitational in Soldotna riding an 11-race winning streak on Alaska soil, a streak dating back to 2012.
“As long as he stays healthy and uninjured, I don’t think he is going to have too much worry about completing an undefeated season here.”
Levi Fried, Kodiak’s No. 2 runner, is capable of being the second-best runner in the state. He finished 13th at last year’s state meet. Dunbar said the trick with Fried is getting him to run his best at the right time.
“He is definitely a top-5 guy,” Dunbar said. “If he could pull off the Cole Christiansen-Levi Thomet 1-2 that would be amazing.”
Two years ago, Thomet and Christiansen finished first and second at state.
Behind the pair of Levis is a solid group of runners that has the team dreaming of a state title.
Senior Anthony Rubina, juniors Michael Parnell and Richie McKinney and sophomores Keith Osowski and Jack Hanna round out Kodiak’s varsity squad.
The team is so deep that sophomore Jake Alwert, who ran at state last year, will start the season on junior varsity.
“There are guys who are going to be running junior varsity for us to start out with that would be on most varsity teams.”
Kodiak has won 12 straight Region III titles, and Dunbar believes the team will battle West Valley, West Anchorage and Kenai — three teams that will be in Kodiak for a meet on Oct. 29 — for the state title. Kodiak hasn’t won a cross country boys title since 2008.
If things go right throughout the season, the drought could come to an end.
“It is like playing Hearts and you have that hand that you know can shoot the moon, you just got to play the cards right,” Dunbar said. “I got to give them the right workouts and keep everybody focused.”
Contact Derek Clarkston at email@example.com.