Cross-country success surprises and motivates Chugiak's Bausch

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) — This Saturday at Bartlett High School hundreds of prep cross-country runners will compete for a state championship. Among those runners is Chugiak senior Daniel Bausch, considered a heavy favorite to win the Boys' Division I title.

Bausch has won four out of his five races this season, success that even took him by surprise.

“I never expected to be running the track times, or cross country times I have this year,” said Bausch.

The senior transferred to Chugiak High in the spring from West, and says the transition was tough at first.

“It was difficult socially, and grade wise it was difficult as well,” said Bausch. “The coaches really made it as smooth as it could be.”

One of those coaches who’s seen Bausch hit his stride this season is Melissa Hall, assistant cross-country coach and head coach for the track and field team at Chugiak.

The longtime track coach would get to know Bausch’s distance abilities when he won both the 1600m and 3200m state titles this spring, and that success seemed to carry over to cross-country in the fall.

“I think the thing that separates Daniel from a lot of high school runners is he’s not just an athlete who runs fast,” said Hall. “He is a student of the sport.”

His coach describes him as a focused, dedicated miles machine, which can be seen by his performance in the region championships winning in a time of 15 minutes and 40 seconds, all while having a fever.

“I just said 'go out and win', and he did it,” said Hall. “I can’t say I’m surprised.”

“It was one of the most painful races I’ve had all season, and I figured as long as I keep enough of a gap I could win,” said Bausch.

What’s next for Bausch? The senior says we wants to beat Kodiak High School’s Levi Thomet’s state record of 15 minutes and 10 seconds on Saturday.

His cross-country season won’t stop after state. In November Bausch plans to run in the Nike Cross Regionals in Boise, Idaho.

The cross-country state championship races begin Saturday at 12:00 p.m. and go until 2:00 p.m. at Bartlett High School.

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