Sweet state success
Prior to running the 110-meter hurdles, Tyler Rohde experienced an unusual emotion — fear.
Rohde, who entered the state meet as Alaska’s top hurdler, doesn’t need a surge of adrenaline and typically listens to calming music before a race. But soothing tunes couldn’t settle his nerves Saturday, May 19 at Lathrop High.
“It was really, really stressful,” Rohde said.
Turns out, Rohde thrives under pressure.
The Chugiak junior set a new state record in the 110-meter hurdles, won the 300 hurdles and ran a leg of the Mustangs’ winning 4x400 relay team to help Chugiak’s boys finish third at the ASAA/First National Bank Alaska Class 4A State Track and Field Championships. Rohde, who was named the 4A boys Most Outstanding Athlete of the meet, was also a member of Chugiak’s second-place 4x200 relay team.
“Tyler had a spectacular meet,” Mustangs’ head coach Jon Schroeder said.
Rohde’s winning time in the 110 hurdles of 14.61 seconds was more than three-tenths of a second faster than second-place Taj Showalter of Bartlett.
Rohde’s Fully Automatic Time (FAT) supersedes Ollie Massingale’s previous hand-timed record of 14.40, according to ASAA’s website. The conversion between hand times and FAT is 0.24 seconds, giving Rohde the record by three hundredths of a second.
Rohde said practice propelled him to victory, as muscle memory took over once the 110 race began.
“When [the gun] goes off, you just gotta go with what feels good. And what feels good isn’t a hurdling motion,” Rohde said.
A fast start enabled Rohde to win the 300 hurdles by more than a second over John Corr of Dimond.
But, Rohde said, the most memorable race was the final event of the day.
Seeded second behind West, Chugiak’s 4x400 relay of Rohde, Jake Wenzl, Duncan Keith and Chris Kveseth edged the Eagles by just nine hundredths of a second. The win shocked Rohde.
“That was the one event I wasn’t expecting to come away with a win,” he said.
Kveseth was the hero for Chugiak.
Running the anchor leg, the junior was trailing by 10 meters when he received the baton, Rohde said. After running most of the race in lane 2 because he couldn’t pass West’s runner, Kveseth leaned in to win it at the finish line, Rohde said.
“It was the best way to finish the meet ever,” he said.
“Everyone will probably remember Chris Kveseth’s last leg,” he said. “It was a gutsy performance.”
“Those kids ran a phenomenal race,” he said.
Wenzl, Rohde and Kveseth also teamed up with Dane Prince to place second in the 4x200 relay.
Kveseth also placed fourth in the 400 and Keith took third in the triple jump Friday.
Eagle River sophomore Peter Kott earned the Wolves’ lone point with a sixth-place finish in the 100.
Bartlett’s boys and Wasilla’s girls won the Class 4A team titles.
Senior Alex Collins took second in both the long and triple jump to help Chugiak’s girls to a seventh-place finish. Malia McVee placed third in discus, Rachel Gregg was fifth in the long jump and Brandy Bookout finished fifth in the 400.
The Mustangs also got a pair of sixth-place relay performances. Bookout and Gregg joined Kelly McBride and Victoria Bensel on the 4x200 team, while Bensel, Collins, Hannah Bolin and Kenzie Matthis made up the 4x100 team.
Junior Scout Warners led Eagle River’s girls to a 14th-place finish. Warners placed in four individual events and scored 10 of the Wolves’ 12 points.
She finished third in the 300 hurdles, fifth in high jump and sixth in both the 200 and long jump.
Sophomore Kate Mondl finished fifth in the 3,200 on Friday in 11:19.23, breaking her own school record.
Warners had never competed in the 300 hurdles prior to this season, Eagle River head coach Matt Turner said. She started practicing after being selected for the pentathlon at the Big “C” Relays.
Warners’ time of 47.80 is a new school record, Turner said. Warners also holds school records in the high jump and long jump.
“She was the big one that stood out,” Turner said.
Chugiak had a successful season, Schroeder said, and he hopes the Mustangs’ track program can build on the team’s success.
“We had a really great year,” he said. “I’m so proud of those kids.”
Eagle River, too, had one of its best years, Turner said. With more than 60 athletes —Eagle River’s largest team by far — the Wolves continued to set personal records throughout the season, Turner said.
“It was a great building year,” he said.
For full results from the state meet, visit www.athletic.net.