2 year Veterans

by Terrie Hanke

February 23, 2023

Four mushers return to the Junior Iditarod for the third year.  That doesn’t mean they’ve had three runs to Yentna Station Roadhouse.  In 2021 these teens ran the route from Knik Lake out to Yentna Station and then finished in Willow, a distance of 150 miles.  Overflow in the Willow area in 2022 prompted the Jr. Iditarod organizers to move north to Cantwell and run a stage race on the Denali Highway covering 120 miles over two days.  The mushers enjoyed a full view of Denali both days!  In 2023 the route will be from Knik Lake to Yentna Station and back to Knik Lake.


Morgan Martens from Brule, Wisconsin earned Jr. Iditarod gold in 2021 followed by 3rd place in 2022.  Morgan is the 2022 and 2023 northern Minnesota JR Beargrease 120 champion.  Born into a mushing family, Morgan has been on the runners since a very young age and has participated in many sled dog races including the Northern Pines Race, Apostle Island Race, Gunflint Mail Run and the Minnetonka Klondike Dog Derby.  Morgan’s sister Talia has also run the Jr. Iditarod.  Morgan appreciates working with Iditarod veteran and Beargrease Champion, Ryan Redington. He’s very involved in training with Ryan and will again be running a team of Ryan’s dogs for Jr. Iditarod.  Morgan enjoys track, cross-country running, camping, skiing, fishing and horseback riding.  He splits and sells firewood to support his mushing habit.  As a sophomore, his future plans include sled dogs.  He’s very excited about training the new litter of puppies the family just bred up.

Ellen Redington, a junior at Redington High School in Wasilla is returning for a third Jr. Iditarod.  As a fourth generation musher, she has been mushing since birth.  The Redington name bears much history when it comes to Iditarod and Jr. Iditarod.  Ellen’s Iditarod family tree starts with the founder of Iditarod, great-grandfather Joe Redington, Sr.  Members of the Redington and Flodin families have participated in 67 Iditarod runs.  Lots of connections to the Jr. Iditarod with grandmother, mother, father and uncles participating going all the way back to the very first race.  Her uncles Dan Flodin and Ryan Redington are both Jr, Iditarod Champions.  Now Ellen is joined by her brother Isaac in the Jr. Iditarod.  In her spare time Ellen enjoys art, hunting and travel,  She participates in Art Club and Educators Rising  She’s is a veteran of the Willow Jr. 100.  After high school, Ellen plans to attend college and continue the family tradition of running dogs.   

Jace Cogdill, age 16, returns for his third Jr. Iditarod.  In 2022, Jace claimed 7th place and was honored by his fellow competitors with the Sportsmanship Award.  In 2021 he earned 6th place.  Cogdill is also a multiple year veteran of Jr. Willow 100.  Jace began mushing when he was nine years old.  He sort of sawed his way into the sport.  Jace and his father were cutting wood on a neighbor’s property and that neighbor happened to have a recreational mushing team.  After taking a trial run with the neighbor, Jace was hooked.  Jace is homeschooled and calls himself an outdoor guy.  He likes hunting , trapping, fishing and enjoys being out on snowmachine and bike.,  Cogdill has worked with Iditarod veteran Linwood Fiedler.  Post high school plans he’s considering include the Marines or relocating to McGrath.  Whatever his choice, he wants to continue running dogs. 


James Shawcroft of Fairbanks is making his third Jr. Iditarod run.  James placed 10th in 2022 and 8th in 2021 when he was honored by his fellow competitors with the Sportsmanship Award.  James loves to chat and tell stories.  Through that he keeps everyone’s spirits up.  Newly fallen snow and windy conditions caused drifts to form over the trail.  James stopped his team, put his snowshoes on and helped break through the drifts.  His tireless energy and everlasting smile made a tough trail passable for himself and his fellow competitors.  James, a Junior at Lathrup High has been mushing since he was six.  Neighbors introduced their family to sled dogs and soon the Shawcrofts began their own kennel.  James follows his sister Emma to the Jr. Iditarod.  Shawcroft is also a four time veteran of the Jr Willow 100.  James really enjoys the out-of-doors spending his free time hunting, fishing, camping and hiking.  James plans to attend college, study aviation and become a commercial airline pilot.