The Haines Cross Country Team received a royal welcome home after sweeping the state championships. (Photo by Henry Leasia)

High School Cross Country teams competed at the state championships over the weekend. Haines High School swept the top spots in the division for the smallest schools in the state. The town welcomed them home with a parade on Monday.

Haines residents waved signs and cheered along Main Street as the cross country team passed by on fire trucks. Red and blue lights flashed as two mascot bears danced and waved green and white flags from the parade truck. 

It was a historic year for Cross Country in Haines. Both the men’s and women’s teams took home first place at the state finals this year. It has been 12 years since either team has taken home the title for 1a and 2a schools.

Glacier bears hype the crowd. (Photo by Henry Leasia)

Haines runners Siyel George and Avery Williams had the fastest individual men’s and women’s times for their division. George finished the 5k course in 16:59 and Williams in 21:08. 

Following the parade, the school hosted a pep rally where the cross country team was congratulated by everyone from the principal, to the mayor to U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan. 

Over 30 high school students competed in cross country this year. That’s a complete turnaround from three years ago when Team Captain Marirose Evenden only had five other girls on her team. 

“It’s so awesome to see so much growth. There is so much potential on this team. It’s a really young team. I’m excited to see what you guys do in the next few years,” Evenden said. 

Haines Highschool alum Chandler Kemp coaches the team now. Kemp says the team overcame injuries and other setbacks throughout the season. He was proud to see the runners come together to support each other.