April 19, 2012 | Vol.42 No. 16

Bears spring into track season

The Haines High School boys’ and girls’ track and field teams are preparing for a four-week stretch of meets that starts next weekend in Juneau.

The schedule includes an April 27-28 meet in Juneau and a May 4-5 Haines competition. The Glacier Bears then have their regional meet in Juneau on May 11-12, and state qualifiers will advance to the state meet in Fairbanks the following weekend.

“They’re pretty used to that,” first-year coach Ray Chapin said of the short season. “It’s really difficult to have a meet in April, because we still have snow on the ground, most of the time. We’re doing most of our work inside.”

He ruled out the lengthy trip to a Ketchikan meet earlier this month so the athletes could better hone skills. “It takes so long to get there that you’re losing a week of practice.”

Chapin said the runners have battled shin splints and sore muscles, but “by Juneau, everybody’s going to be ready to go.”

The Glacier Bear squads are coming off fifth-place finishes in the small schools division at the state championship.

Two of the top graduates from the boys’ team were Nathan Piper – who won the long jump, was second in the discus and 100 meters, and third in the shot put – and Blake Hamilton, a fifth-place finisher in the 3,200-meter run. Fellow graduate Abby Jones placed second in the discus and fifth in the shot put.

Haines returns senior Devin Braaten, who earned fourth place in the 110 hurdles and was fifth in the 300-meter hurdles. Sophomore Serena Badgley finished second in the triple jump. Glacier Bear athletes also placed in several relays.

“The kids who did go to state are some of our most motivated people,” Chapin said. “They’re really looking forward to a return trip.”

He said about 40 students have practiced since the start of the season last month.

Chapin said he expects seniors Brandon Haxton and Logan Simpson, juniors Chris Olsen and Caullen Taylor, and sophomore Devin Light to be among the top performers for the boys. He also credited junior Alisha Young in throwing events and said sisters Anna and Libby Jacobson are strong middle-distance runners.

“The kids, for the most part, want to work hard,” Chapin said. “I’ve been impressed with their work ethic.”

Track newcomer Tyler Swinton, a senior, has taken up the high jump, and freshman Zayla Asquith-Heinz should be formidable in long-distance races, Chapin said. Asquith-Heinz placed 13th in the small schools division at the state cross-country championships last fall.

Chapin said freshmen Jordan Badger, Celia Bower and Natalia Taylor show potential.

The Glacier Bears also have received coaching from senior Austin Badger, Dave Berry, Tyrell Horton, Kerry McIver, Dean Olsen, Greg Schlachter and Jim Stanford. Jeremy Strong was the head coach last year.

“I do know all the kids,” Chapin said. “I know that they’re a good bunch, so they would be fun to work with, and the support system they have set up for track, with all the assistant coaches and their expertise, really makes working with all those guys just really easy.”