Chugiak girls tie for second place in team standing at State track meet
Chugiak and Eagle River High School track and field teams performed well in the season-culminating Alaska Scholastic Athletic Association/First National Bank of Alaska State 4A championships held last Friday and Saturday at Dimond High.
The Chugiak girls tied with Thunder Mountain, of Juneau, for second-place behind Colony, with Eagle River in a four-way tie for sixth; while only a point separated the Mustangs and Wolves, placing seventh and eighth, respectively, on the boys’ side.
Graduating senior Ed Hall was the only individual champ among locals, winning the shot put Friday, then the discus on Saturday.
The Wolves’ quartet of Nikki Boggs, Jordyn Bruce, Deanna Owens and Emma Tvelia provided the only victory in the relays among the two local schools, in the 4x400m relay, with anchor-leg Bruce holding off the attempt made by Soldotna’s final runner.
Chugiak coach Melissa Hall, the CIC Coach of the Year, credited her team with another great meet.
“We didn’t have a single first-place finish, but we had a lot of seconds and thirds. Those 8 (point finishes) and 6s added up to second-place overall,” she said
Hall said that outgoing senior Paige Nelson made a great showing for herself, finishing second in the long jump, third in the triple jump, and providing a strong leg in the girls 400m relay. Samantha Cooper also provided a second in the high jump, clearing 4 feet, 10 inches.
Chugiak placed second in both the 400m and 800m girls relays, behind Dimond, while the Eagle River garnered second place in the 3,200m relays, Saturday’s first track event, prior to the win in the 1,600m, the last event.
Junior sprinter Vanessa Aniteye provided the meet’s second best time in the 400m, of 59.22, in the prelims Friday, before placing third in the finals, behind four-event winner Peggy Mathis, of Colony, and Eagle River junior Nikki Boggs.
Besides Aniteye, hurdler Hannah Babin was the school’s only two-event state track finalist, in both 100m and 300m hurdles.
“The girls gave it their all – I couldn’t be more proud,” said Chugiak’s Hall.
The Mustang coach gave kudos to sophomore Natalie Musil, a member of the relays and a 400m finalist.
After running a 68-second 400m as a freshman, Musil committed herself to weight training during the off-season, then worked with both distance and sprint programs this season.
At regions she placed well but was named as an alternate to the state meet, said Hall.
Following a scratch from another athlete, she was issued a place in the 400m prelims, where she finished fourth in her heat, advancing into the state finals. There she finished eighth, ending her year with a season-best time of 63.29.
Hall said she just learned that Natalie is moving out of state this summer.
“To me, she is the epitome of what working hard, even when you aren’t seeing success at first, can do. You just can’t give up,” said the coach, sad to know that Musil won’t be around her junior or senior year.
Chugiak’s best showing on the boy’s side came in Saturday’s first event, the 3,200m relay, with John Weaver, David McPhetres, Roan Hall and Ty Jordan placing second to the highly-vaunted Kodiak distance corps headed up by anchor-leg Levi Thomet.
Jordan ran a 1:56 time for the anchoring 800-meter leg, a time two seconds better than the winning time in the open 800m, passing both Bartlett and Kenai Central in the last lap. Jordan, a sophomore, also placed fourth in the 1,600 meter run.
Other boys performances of note, said Hall, was senior Jake Brownlee in the discus, and a third- and fourth-place finishes by sophomore Dillon Pratt in the 200m and 100m, respectively. Junior Michael Williams placed sixth in the 300m hurdle finals.
Wolves rack up first-place finishes
Eagle River’s strength was in the girls relay events – first in the 1,600m, second in the 3,200m, with members Nikki Boggs and Jordyn Bruce also providing significant tallies in individual events. Boggs placed second in the 400m, eighth in the 800m, with Bruce, third in the 300m hurdles, seventh in the 800m.
Senior Ed Hall figured into every point on the Wolves’ tally, adding a third-place finish in the 800m relay, fifth in the 400m relay, in addition to his titles in shot put and discus.
Eagle River High coach Matt Turner said Hall, one of only three seniors on the team, has been a real leader for the Wolves.
“He’s been pretty focused on his throws, but he’s a major part of those relay team’s as well,” said Turner.
Senior Kate Maker placed third in the 3,200m Friday, and fourth in the 1,600m Saturday.
Turner said he was amazed with how well the team did in the team standings with their limited personnel.
“We had two relay teams and two individuals on the boys side – and we place eighth,” he said.
The entries on the girls teams were nearly entirely tied to the relays.
“We saved our best performances for the last meet. Nearly everyone we had either posted a personal record (PR) or were very close,” Turner said.
Birchwood Christian highlights
Birchwood Christian High had only one runner in the State 1-2-3A finals, with sophomore Tia Goward placing third in the 200m and fourth in the 100m, with season-best times of 29.977 and 13.44, respectively, reported first-year Warriors coach Tamie Vickers. Vickers said that Goward, who qualified for state last year as a freshman, won both events in the Regional Meet at SuValley on May 17.
“She is a joy to coach,” said Vickers, who is also Goward’s basketball and soccer coach this year.