Eagle River track sees huge surge in numbers

All three state place winners back for Wolves


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Eagle River’s Hannah Stevens, right, passes Chugiak’s Naella Lundell at the finish line to claim third place in the girls 4X800 meter relay finals at the 2012 Region IV Track and Field Championships at Bartlett High on Saturday, May 13, 2012.

STAR FILE PHOTO/MATT TUNSETH

Eagle River High’s track and field team saw another surge in numbers for the second straight year.

“Last year was the biggest until this year,” head coach Matt Turner said of his 77 athletes.

The Wolves, who started out with about 50 tracksters last season, should surpass 80 on this year’s team as Turner anticipates picking up at least five more kids this week.

“This is the biggest jump by far,” he said. “I ordered 75 new uniforms last year, and I don’t think I’ll have enough.”

The team is evenly divided between girls and boys, Turner said.

“We have a perfect split,” he said.

The biggest influx has come from underclassmen, making up about 65 percent of the team. Turner noticed increased interest from younger students during Eagle River’s Eighth Grade Night last month.

Turner said he can’t explain the rise in numbers but suspects most are continuing athletic careers that began in middle school.

“I’ve still got no reason behind it, but it’s great,” he said.

Several students are playing two spring sports, Turner said, or using track to stay in shape for other activities.

“There’s a lot more crossover kids,” he said.

Eagle River’s dedication is also at a high level to start the season. Turner said he averaged about 40 kids at the optional practices over spring break.

The boom in numbers should make Eagle River more competitive, Turner said. In the past, the Wolves surrendered points because its smaller team size made it impossible to fill every event.

That’s not the case this year, and Turner is hoping that will translate into more success in the team standings.

All three placewinners from last year’s state meet are returning for Eagle River, Turner said.

Senior Scout Warners was the most decorated Wolf, placing in four individual events — third in 300-meter hurdles, fifth in high jump and sixth in both the 200 and long jump.

Junior Kate Mondl placed fifth in the 3,200 run.

On the boys side, junior Peter Kott was the lone placewinner with a sixth-place finish in the 100.

Ten Eagle River tracksters qualified for state last season.

Athletes begin the season with The Scramble on Friday and Saturday, March 15-16 at The Dome.

 

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

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