Track athletes battle through chilly conditions
Ice fishing tents dotted the infield at Service High School, where athletes and coaches battled to keep from freezing in the always challenging springtime track and field conditions.
“I’d love to say we’re Alaskans and we need to be tough, but you worry about quads, you worry about hamstrings,” said Chugiak head coach Melissa Hall.
Along with the portable pop-up tents, athletes bundled inside winter parkas and sleeping bags to ward off the cold. Coaches like Hall said they continually stress the importance of keeping warm during early season outdoor meets.
“They’re just warming up extra long,” she said.
Eagle River coach Matt Turner said that’s not always an easy message to get across to teenagers who feel they’re invincible.
“Just because you feel warm doesn’t mean your muscles are warm,” he said.
Working to make sure athletes are ready to compete is coaches’ top concern this time of year.
“We really keep an eye on it,” Turner said.
Chugiak distance runner Hyrum Nelson, who won the 1,600 meter run and finished second in the 800, said he wore “a bunch of layers” to keep warm at Service. He and his teammates also spent plenty of time taking slow jogs around the turf infield.
“If the race is short you do a longer warm-up,” he said.
Nelson said the toughest part of Friday’s meet was the wind, which hammered runners every time they hit the backstretch.
“It was brutal,” said Nelson, who nonetheless turned in a personal-best time of 4 minutes, 30.26 to win the 1,600 by almost 19 seconds over Eagle River’s Carter Gladwill.
Chugiak swept the four-team meet, which included Eagle River, Service and Bartlett. The CHS boys got individual wins from Jeremiah Wilson in the 100 meters, Charlie Latimer in the 800, Ryan Winborg in the discus and Lincoln Oldham in the long jump. Mason Wadsworth won the high jump and both hurdles races for fourth-place Eagle River.
Brooklynn Gould won the triple jump and both hurdles races for the Chugiak girls, who got two individual wins from Emma Nelson (long jump, 400 meters) and one from Adrianna Proffitt (1,600). Emily Walsh won the 800 and 1,600 for third-place Eagle River, which also got a win from Elizabeth Ruehle in the high jump.
Freshmen and sophomores from both Chugiak and Eagle River will compete Friday and Saturday, May 4-5 at the annual Frosh/Soph meet at Dimond High. There will be a “Last Chance” meet at West, with the Palmer Relays set for May 11-12. The Region meet is May 18-19, with state scheduled for May 25-26 in Palmer.
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