Chugiak girls track goes back-to-back at state
At this rate, the Chugiak track and field team may soon have to start paying royalties to Alicia Keys. Why?
These girls are on fire.
The Mustangs won their second straight Alaska girls Class 4A state track and field championship Saturday at Palmer’s Machetanz Field, outpacing West Valley behind a Most Outstanding Athlete performance from senior Ariana Davis and individual wins by junior Emma Nelson in the long jump and freshman Brooklynn Gould in the 300 hurdles.
“I’m super proud of all of them,” said Chugiak coach Melissa Hall after her team claimed victory by just five points over the Wolfpack.
Chugiak’s win was far from a breeze at the windswept venue, where the Mustangs found themselves in a dogfight all day Saturday. Hall said she was constantly crunching numbers to see where Chugiak stood in the team standings. She said she was finally able to relax — a bit — after Davis ran the anchor leg of Chugiak’s winning 4X100 relay.
“At that point I had to put the clipboard away,” she said.
Davis won all four events she entered, including the 100, 200, 4X100 and 4X200. She teamed up with Cerina Bush, Eden Rose Johnson and Reilly Hall in the 4X100 and joined Hall, Bush and Gould on the 4X200 team. Coach Hall said the fact half of Davis’s wins came in relays was fitting because of the senior’s team-first attitude.
“I cannot say enough about Ariana,” she said.
Hall said Davis has spent “hours” mentoring Chugiak’s younger athletes, which has been a big part of the team’s success.
“She’s really helped them up their game,” she said.
Davis was all smiles all day Saturday. Despite her cold-blooded victories in the sprints, she was usually the first competitor to start handing out hugs at the finish line.
“I’m a hugger,” she explained.
Davis said Saturday’s meet was “bittersweet.” While she said she’s thrilled end her career as champion, she said leaving her Chugiak teammates and coaches won’t be easy.
“I am so happy, but I’m also sad,” she said. “I’ll miss my coaches, I’ll miss my teammates — just this whole situation.”
Despite running dominant anchor legs on both of Chugiak’s winning relays, Davis was quick to deflect praise to her fellow Mustangs.
“I totally trust my teammates with my whole soul and heart,” said Davis, who hasn’t yet decided where she’ll run next season in college.
While Davis was the team leader, she had plenty of help carrying Chugiak — which also won the sportsmanship award — to the team title. In addition to her long jump win, Nelson placed third in the high jump and triple jump and was fourth in the 400. Gould was second in the triple jump and was grinning ear-to-ear following her victory lap after the 300 hurdles.
“It’s definitely an amazing feeling,” she said.
Gould’s performance was particularly impressive given she could have hung her head after missing out on the 100 hurdles after a disastrous DQ at the region meet. She said the 300 hurdles victory definitely helped take the sting out of last week’s disappointment.
“That definitely makes up for it,” she said.
Bush also had a big day for the Mustangs, placing fourth in both the 100 and 200 while pitching in on the relays. Johnson added a sixth place in the 100 hurdles for the Mustangs, who got a fifth place finish from Kaylee Manwaring, Emma Sees, Lauren Devine and Mazie Edwards in the 4X800 relay.
Eagle River’s girls finished 14th in the team standings. The Wolves were led by senior distance runner Peyton Young, who was fifth in the 3,200 meters Friday and sixth in the 1,600 Saturday. Sophomore hurdler Morgan Bolin turned in the highest individual finish for the Wolves when she claimed fourth in the 100 hurdles.
West Valley won the boys’ team title by 17 points over Kodiak. The Chugiak boys finished 10th and Eagle River was 12th.
The Chugiak boys got a victory in the 4X200 relay, using precision handoffs and a blazing anchor leg by sophomore Guy Rohde to win a photo finish over Service. After a quick victory lap, senior Austin Potter said the foursome — he and Rohde along with Austin Sayer and Connor Gentry — ran a near-perfect relay race.
“We’re a team,” he said.
A team with some serious fan support. Potter said a small group of young Chugiak fans in the crowd constantly led cheers for the Mustangs, which he said gave the team an extra boost.
“It definitely makes a difference,” he said. “We won!”
Rohde placed fourth in the 300 hurdles for the Mustangs, who also got a fifth-place finish from Forest Perish in the discus. Chugiak also placed second in the 4X800 meter relay, with Hyrum Nelson, Max Hartke, Chalie Latimer and Austin Sayer teaming up to finish a little more than eight second behind Kodiak.
Eagle River’s small contingent of athletes had a solid day Saturday, with junior Mason Wadsworth placing third in both the 110 hurdles and 300 hurdles and junior Luke Mourcade taking second in the 400 meters. Mourcade also joined Mike Maddox, Deven Wesolowski and Carter Gladwell on the Wolves’ fifth-place 4X400 meter relay team.
Wolves coach Matt Turner said he was pleased with the team’s showing, especially since so many of the team’s top athletes still have eligibility left.
“We’re super young,” Turner said.
Turner said the short track season this year might have kept his team from reaching its full potential, but he wasn’t complaining after a solid state showing.
“To have the success we had in the amount of time we had was really nice,” he said.
While the Wolves were celebrating a job well done, Chugiak’s girls team was relishing its place atop the Alaska track and field world. However, for the team’s star, the day will be remembered with mixed emotions.
“You’ll probably see me crying later,” explained Davis, who said she’s going to miss running with the Mustangs.
But, she said, the tears won’t be out of sorrow, but joy.
“Today is just a happy day.”
For complete meet results, visit athletic.net.