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Story Last modified at 5:40 p.m. on Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Hurdling into space
Chugiak tracksters succeed on their own

BY MATT TUNSETH
Alaska Star

photo:Sports

Chugiak's Kassy Matotte clears a hurdle during the 4x100 meter hurdles shuttle relay during the Palmer Relays on April 30 at Machetanz Field in Palmer. Despite having no dedicated hurdles coach, Chugiak has a crop of more than a half dozen hurdlers out this season.

There's a herd of hurdlers on the loose at Chugiak.

Because of a dearth of track coaches in Mustang country this season, the team's hurdling corps has been pretty much left to do its own thing. A couple have ventured over to Bartlett to work with that school's staff, while the rest have been dutifully pushing themselves through workouts led by older members of the team.

"Some of the kids stepped up and just showed each other," said Josh Williams, a senior who only began hurdling this year.

Despite being left on their own, the Chugiak hurdlers have posted some solid results this season, including a victory in the boys' 4x100 hurdle relay event at the Palmer Relays on April 30. Williams joined Sam Brownlee, Parker Collins and Tyler Rohde for the victory, one of two relay wins for Chugiak on the weekend.

Palmer essentially hosted two meets in one over the weekend. On April 29 the more traditional Palmer Invite was held, with the laid-back Relays the following day.

Rohde, who hurdled for the first time since injuring his shoulder earlier this season, is the team's star in that event. He posted the state's third-best time in the 110 hurdles this year and is expected to be among the state's best 300 hurdlers once he returns to action in that race. But he said the group behind him isn't far behind.

"We have some good hurdlers on our team, and we're pretty evenly matched," he said.

The results in Palmer proved Rohde right. Three Chugiak boys (Collins, Brownlee and Matthew Keith) finished in the top 11 spots in the 300 hurdles, while two girls (Rachel Fore and Malea McGimsey) were in the top eight. The Chugiak girls were also second in the girls' shuttle hurdles. Brownlee also finished fourth in the 110 hurdles.

Chugiak coach Scott Roleff said he's been happy with how his hurdlers have been able to find success despite not getting much attention from the team's three-member coaching staff.

"They work with each other really, really well," Roleff said.

The hurdlers were far from the only Chugiak athletes getting loose during their two days in the Valley.

The team of Sean Casey, Ben Morse, Ben Perrell and Zachary John won the boys' 4x200 relay at the Palmer Relays, and Chugiak earned six individual top-three finishes over the weekend.

Chugiak's boys were sixth in the team standings at both meets; the girls were eighth in the Invitational and seventh in the Relays.

Keith was third in both the long jump and triple jump, Morse was second in the 100 and Rohde finished second in the 200 for the Chugiak boys. For the girls, Sam Hartke was second in the 1,600, Kristy Howard finished second in the discus and Alex Collins was third in the long jump. Collins also placed fourth in the triple jump.

Ben Perrell was fourth in the boys' triple jump.

Chris Kveseth (1,600), Mackenzie Matthis (400) and Tilly Cantor (discus) turned in fifth-place performances, while Parker Collins (300 hurdles) and Hartke (800) earned sixth-place ribbons.

photo:Sports

Eagle River's Katilyn Mondl trails West's Katherine Weddleton and leads Dimond's Tori Best during the girls' 800 meters at the Frosh/Soph Championships on April 30 at South High. Mondl finished fifth for the fourth-place Wolves.

Young Wolves run down competition

Sophomore Scout Warners won two events for the Eagle River girls, while fellow sophomore Brandon King and "frosh" Ed Hall each placed in four events for the boys at the Frosh/Soph Championships at South High on April 29-30.

"We've had a lot of success here the last couple days," said Wolves coach Matt Turner.

Warners' big weekend (she was also third in the 200 and sixth in the long jump) propelled the Eagle River girls to a fourth-place overall finish. The Wolves' boys team was sixth.

Turner said the underclassmen-only meet was a good chance for his young team to gauge itself against similar competition.

"I think it's good for kids to run against kids their same age," Turner said.

Judging by the results, the future is bright for the Wolves, especially on the girls' side. Freshman Kaitlyn Mondl was third in the 3,200 and fifth in both the 800 and 1,600; while sophomore Heather Holmquist was second in the 300 hurdles, third in the 100 hurdles and fifth in the long jump. Also, Samantha Brown finished third in the 400 and Alyssa Randall was sixth in the shot.

King turned in third-place finishes in the 3,200, 1,600 and 300 hurdles and was fourth in the 400. Hall, meanwhile, showcased both speed and power by placing second in the shot put, third in the discus, fifth in the 100 and sixth in the 200.

Turner said he enjoyed seeing some of his team's younger athletes finding success because of the effect it will have going forward.

"It just gives them confidence going into those last couple races of the season," he said.

Next up on the track and field calendar is the Anchorage Invitational on May 6-7 at Bartlett. The meet is the final regular season event before the Cook Inlet Conference championships on May 13-14.

For complete results for all high school meets, visit www.athletic.net. Contact Matt Tunseth at 694-2727 or matt.tunseth@alaskastar.com.



This article published in The Alaska Star on Wednesday, May 4, 2011.