Eagle River runners (from left) Evy Hail, Kaitlyn Mondl, Jocelyn Murchie and Kelly Ireland get mentally prepared for the girls 4x400 meter relay on March 26 at The Dome. The team placed ninth in the event.
STAR PHOTO by matt tunseth
You've gotta be light on your feet to compete in early-season track meets.
Just days before "The Mini" track meet on March 25-26 at The Dome in Anchorage, the Eagle River boys' 4x400-meter relay wasn't a team at all. With several athletes still waiting to get enough practices to be eligible, senior John Owolabi and sophomore Brandon King were the only two runners with much experience in the race. So they improvised.
"They both were set on running a relay, so they figured it out themselves," said Wolves coach Matt Turner.
Owolabi and King held impromptu tryouts during practice, then drafted distance runner Evan Fisher and thrower/sprinter Sam Banks to fill out the squad. Banks, whose squat, muscle-bound frame doesn't exactly elicit comparisons to Michael Johnson, said the distance is far from his specialty.
"After I did it the first time in practice, I couldn't go to the next one," he said.
The mismatched quartet wound up finishing 10th in the event, though Turner said the goal of getting King and Owolabi a race at 400 meters (the distance wasn't contested as an individual event) was a success.
"They both had great splits," Turner said.
Banks said he's out for track not to win any medals, but to train for the upcoming football season. The junior running back/linebacker said he's already learning that track and field can be just as punishing as the gridiron.
"I've learned how to push it, and I've learned there's way faster guys," he said. "I just want to push it to get better than those guys."
While Eagle River was busy experimenting, Chugiak's team of Parker Collins, Ben Perrell, Kevin Greco and Chris Kveseth was busy sprinting its way to a third-place finish in the 4x400. The performance was among the best of the meet for the Mustang boys, who finished fourth overall to earn the top score among local teams.
Kveseth, who ran a strong anchor leg despite an eight-place showing in the 800 meters just a half hour before, said running back-to-back races took a bit of mental preparation.
"You've just gotta keep your head up after every race, take a break and get hydrated and ready for the next one," said the sophomore. "You can't get out of the mindset of racing."
Chugiak also got valuable points from Dane Prince (100 meters) and Matthew Keith (long jump), who each finished second in their respective events. Tim Sorensen was the only Chugiak athlete to score in two events, finishing third in the 3,200 meters and fourth in the 1,600 meters.
Chugiak coach Scott Roleff said he was pleased with his team's showing, especially considering only about half of Chugiak's 70-member team was eligible for the first official meet of the season.
"They're still getting their legs stretched out," Roleff said. "A lot of them are just figuring out what's going on."
Eagle River's boys weren't just messing around at the meet. Owolabi finished second in the 800 meters despite only running the event to train for the 400, while King managed to crack the top-5 in the 1,600.
Chugiak's girls team finished in sixth place thanks to a stellar showing by Alex Collins, who brought home the only local victory at the two-day meet when she jumped 15 feet, 2.5 inches on March 25 to win the girls' long jump.
Roleff said Collins, who qualified for state last season, is well on her way back to the big meet in May.
"I have a feeling she's gonna be back there," Roleff said.
Other top performances for the Chugiak girls included a fourth-place finish by Mackenzie Matthis in the 100 meters and Sarah Nelson's sixth-place leap in the long jump.
Eagle River freshman Kaitlin Mondl had one of the day's breakout performances. Mondl finished third in the 3,200 on Friday, then followed that with a fifth in the 1,600 on Saturday.
"We had a few surprises in there," Turner said.
Turner said that because the season is still in its infancy, many athletes are still either trying to find their best event or cross-training by entering unfamiliar races.
"We're just trying to have fun with it," he said.
Although athletes are starting to get into a competitive mindset, Chugiak's Roleff said the idea this time of year isn't necessarily to win races, but to get stronger in anticipation for more important meets later in the year.
"Right now we're pushing more the endurance stuff," he said.
Athletes will again be in The Dome this weekend for the ASD 8x8 meet, which begins April 1 and continues the following day. Teams are still training indoors, though Roleff said he's optimistic that the school's running track will be clear of ice within the next week or two.
"Once we get a couple holes in there it's gonna go fast," he said.
Contact Matt Tunseth at email@example.com or 694-2727 Ext. 215.
3200 1. Aaron Wheatall, Ser, 10 minutes, 0.2 seconds; 2. John Farr, East, 10:29.6; 3. Tim Sorensen, Chu, 10:38.7; 4. Noah Ripley, Was, 10;47.4; 5. Scott Wheeler, West, 10:48.2; 6. Josh Pahkala, Was, 10:59.2. Other Chugiak/Eagle River: 10. Evan Fisher, ER, 11:32.4
Shot put 1. Tim Dommek, Bar, 48 feet, 3.5 inches; 2. Alex Reno, Bar, 41-1.5; 3. Tyler Spalding, Ken, 41-0; 4. Devon Teeling, Was, 40-4.75; 5. Kyle Scheibe, Pal, 39-9; 6. Terry Holtman, West, 39-3.25. Other C/ER: 13. Alex Medeiros, Chu, 35-11; 23. Austin Thompson, ER, 33-2; 27. Sam Banks, ER, 32; 6.75; 36. Jacob Floyd, ER, 31-2; 41. Rydell Reinbold, ER, 30-3.5; 45. Oscar Hall, ER, 28-6
High jump 1. Tyler Spalding, Ken, 6-4; 2. Gus Simmers, ACS, 5-10; 3. Ethan-John Rasmussen, Ser, 5-8; 4. (tie) Colten Palmer, ER, and Jacory Rias, East, 5-6; 6. Richie Predmore, Bar, 5-4
Long jump 1. Jim McCall, Pal, 20-7; 2. Matthew Keith, Chu, 19-8.25; 3. Richie Predmore, Bar, 19-4.25; 4. Tyler Spalding, Ken, 19-2.5; 5. Scott Wheeler, West, 18-7; 6. Stanson Afoa, Dim, 18-3.25. Other C/ER: 15. Ben Perrell, Chu, 16-11.25; 20. Colten Palmer, ER, 16-4.25; 23. Dakota Nicolson, Chu, 15-9.25
100 1. Darrion Gray, Dim, 11.62; 2. Dane Prince, Chu, 11.78; 3. Ryan Williams, ACS, 11.92; 4. Jim McCall, Pal, 12.04; 5. (tie) Jared Pessetto, South and Myles Nichols, East, 12.05. Other C/ER: 7. Ben Morse, Chu, 12.09; 14. Sean Casey, Chu, 12.39; 23. Dacota Nicolson, Chu, 12.56; 37. Josh Williams, Chu, 12.88; 49. Sam Banks, ER, 13.38; 65. Zachary John, Chu, 14.29; 73. John Post, Chu, 15.65; 75. Dayquan McKinnon, Chu, 17.97
800 1. Daquon Brunson, Bar, 2:01:00; 2. John Owolabi, ER, 2:02.37; 3. Joe Day, Pal, 2:04.04; 4. Mason Minturn, Pal, 2:05.84; 5. Aaron Wheatall, Ser, 2:06.04; 6. Thomas Dolan, Bar, 2:06.81. Other C/ER: 8. Chris Kveseth, Chu, 2:08.33; 31. Kevin Greco, Chu, 2:23.10; 41. Karel Marek, Chu, 2:30.51; 49. Garrett Fisher, ER, 3:15.93
1600 1. Jani Lane, Ser, 4:29.54; 2. John Farr, East, 4:44.10; 3. Ben Wheatall, Ser, 4:45.50; 4. Tim Sorensen, Chu, 4:52.10; 5. Brandon King, ER, 4:52.90; 6. Max Romey, Ser, 4:53.11. Other C/ER: 9. Chris Kveseth, Chu, 4:56.81; 24. Evan Fisher, ER, 5:25.08; 27. Karel Marek, Chu, 5:29.44; 31. Josef Rutz, Chu, 5:33.63; 43. Garrett Fisher, ER, 7:01.40