Soldotna's Bree Mucha and Kenai Central's Bailey Beeson are part of a pack of about 10 runners that have a shot at claiming the Class 4A girls state cross country running title on Saturday at Bartlett Running Trails in Anchorage.
"There's definitely a pack of about 10, or definitely eight, of them up there," Harbison said. "They will all kind of be vying for it. The question is who will run the smartest race and make the move at the right time.
"We'll wait and see."
A junior, Mucha finished fourth at state last season and second in 2008.
"We're hoping she's right up there," Harbison said. "She definitely has the possibility of winning it."
Beeson also is a junior, but does not have Mucha's experience at state. This is her first year out for high school cross country. For that reason, Kenai Central coach D'Anna Gibson is hesitant to talk about a Beeson title.
"I don't want to put that kind of pressure on her because it's her first year," she said. "I think she could get a personal record in time and she has a definite shot of getting in the top 10. Those are the goals I'm going to focus on for her."
The Soldotna girls did not qualify as a team, but Melanie Smith also will represent the Stars. Harbison said he would love to see Smith finish in the top 15.
Gibson has similar expectations for Hope Steffensen, who is making her first trip to state. The coach also would like to see Taylor Ostrander better her 34th-place finish from a year ago.
Ostrander is the only member of the Kenai team with previous state experience. Also running for the Kards will be Rylee Devito, Freya Chay, Michelle Klaben and Chelsea Springer. Klaben is the only senior in the mix.
"We have quite a lot of potential in the next few years," Gibson said.
The story is similar on the boys side, where James Watkins is the only senior on a team that qualified for state. The team is led by Travis Semmens and Fox Michaud.
"For them a top 25 or even a top 20 would be a really good race," Gibson said.
Also running for the Kards will be Andrew Mole, Evan Atchley, Alex Springer and Nate Mole.
In the Class 1-2-3A races, Seward will likely battle for second place behind dominant Grace Christian squads.
On the girls side, the Seahawks will be represented by Mackenzie Barnwell, Isabel Barnwell, Laura Dyer, Kristina Atherton, Kelly Sefton, Veronica Wilde and Maggie Herbert.
Running for the Seward boys will be Miles Knotek, Brett Chase, Austin Gillespie, Andrew Buchanan, Matt Moore, Jacob Marshall and Keenan Prochazka.
The Nikolaevsk boys also earned a trip to state by winning the Region II meet on Saturday. This is just the second year of the program. Making the trip to state for the Warriors will be Matthew Trail, Blake Klaich, Mark Fefelov, Eric Mametieff, Frank Holub and Anthony Yakunin.
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