ERHS track sees big jump in numbers

Junior class assumes leadership role for Wolves


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Eagle River’s Scout Warners competes in the long jump during the season-opening “Scramble” meet at The Dome on Friday, March 16. Wolves coach Matt Turner said this year’s track and field team is his largest ever.

STAR FILE PHOTO/MATT TUNSETH

With about 50 athletes out and another five to 10 expected to join after spring break (which ended March 16), Eagle River High head track and field coach Matt Turner had something to celebrate before the 2012 season even started.

“We’ve got the most numbers out we’ve ever had,” he said. “That’s always a plus to start the year off.”

The Wolves started their season at The Scramble at the Dome on March 16-17, an unofficial meet. Distance runner Kate Mondl, a sophomore, had a stellar weekend, winning three events — the girls’ 800-meter dash, 1,600 and 3,200. Freshman Ben Hall took second to Chugiak’s Tim Sorensen in the boys’ 3,200.

Junior Alyssa Randall placed second in girls’ shot put and classmate Scout Warners finished second in the long jump and third in the 300 hurdles for the Wolves.

Junior Brandon King took first in the boys’ 300 hurdles and sixth in the 1,600. Full results can be found at www.athletic.net.

Close to one third of the team is made up of freshmen, Turner said, which is a positive for the program’s future.

The influx of runners will help the Wolves send more athletes to state, Turner said.

“That’s always been our problem at Eagle River. We don’t ever have enough numbers to fill everything,” he said.

In the past, Eagle River has missed out on valuable points because of a lack of runners, Turner said. But that shouldn’t be the case this season, he said.

“I’m hoping this year with the higher numbers we’ll be able to fill everything,” Turner said.

The Wolves will have to get by this season without the help of John Owolabi, who finished second in the 400 and fifth in the 800 at state last year. Owolabi also helped the team’s 4X400 relay team to a fourth-place finish.

Other state finalists no longer on the team include Clarence Summers, who finished seventh in the boys’ long jump last year, and Colten Palmer, who was eighth in the high jump.

“We graduated some solid seniors last year,” Turner said.

And it’s the juniors who have filled the leadership roles, he said.

“The leaders of this team are really juniors,” Turner said. “The junior class has really stepped up.”

Turner said the split between the number of boys and girls is nearly even.

King and Warners, both juniors, will be key returners, Turner said.

Both have been to state the past two years. Warners placed 12th in both the high jump and 400 meters at state last season. King was part of Eagle River’s fourth-place 4x400 relay team with 2011 graduates Owolabi and Devon Fox and senior Edward Massey.

Turner said his goal is always to send as many kids as possible to state, and this season is looking positive for the Wolves.

“I think it’s gonna be another good year that we can build on,” he said.

 

Contact Mike Nesper at 694-2727 or mike.nesper@alaskastar.com

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