Track team makes strong debut
By Tom Morphet
Though a bit shrunken in numbers from previous years, the Haines High School track and field teams ran fast enough, jumped high enough and threw far enough to beat several larger schools at the Capital Invitational meet last weekend in Juneau.
The teams compete at the Haines Invitational beginning 3 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m Saturday at Sharnbroich Field.
In Juneau, Haines boys placed third behind Thunder Mountain and Juneau Douglas, respectively, and ahead of Ketchikan, Sitka, Petersburg, and Gustavus last week. Glacier Bear girls were fourth behind Thunder Mountain, Juneau and Sitka, topping Ketchikan, Petersburg and Yakutat.
“It’s great news,” said field coach Jim Stanford. “We had snow on the track all spring. A bunch of kids missed three weeks of practice in a row for student government and music fest. Some of our best athletes are injured. It was just nuts.”
Seniors Devin Braaten and Brandon Haxton provided the muscle behind the strong showing by the Haines boys, winning two events each, besting even athletes from large schools. Devin Light, a 15-year-old sophomore, topped all other competitors in high jump and placed second behind Juneau in the 100-meter dash.
Braaten won the 110-meter high hurdles and 300-meter intermediate event with an aggressive style coach Ray Chapin described as an attack. Braaten said this week he was pleased with his performance, considering that he missed two weeks of practice for other school activities. His time of 17.59 in the 110-meter high hurdles is the fastest among small schools this season, and he’s aiming for the 3A crown this year.
He would need to shave about two seconds off his time in the 300-meter event to wear the 3A crown there. “That’ll take work,” Braaten said.
Haxton won shot put and discus. His winning discus toss of nearly 130 feet was a major improvement over his best throw last year, 106 feet. “I got a little bigger and my footwork has gotten better,” the 18-year-old said this week. He’s also doing more weightlifting. “I’m a lot more serious about it this year.”
Haxton stands 6’6” and weighs 240 pounds. His winning put was 41’8.5”. He’s ranked about third in both events among small schools statewide.
Light’s high jump of 5’6’’ was good enough to beat everyone else at the meet, but six inches less than he’s previously jumped. He’s aiming for the Southeast record of 6’3” held by Haines’ Will Egolf and said he has already jumped that high.
Light’s time in the 100-meter dash, 11.53, is the second fastest in Alaska for small schools this year.
Other standout performances for Haines boys were junior Patrick Henderson’s second-place finish in the 800-meter dash (2:10.53), classmate Chris Olson’s second-place in the triple jump (38’3.25), and senior rookie Tyler Swinton’s second place in the discus (122’8”) and sixth-place in shot put (36’5”). Senior Logan Simpson was fifth in discus.
Haines placed third in the 4-by -100 relay, with runners including Braaten, Light, senior Caullen Taylor and sophomore Isaac Wing. Chris Olsen placed fourth in the 400 meters (57.72).
Thrower Alisha Young, a junior, led the Haines girls, who spread scorers across a broad range of events. Young beat all competitors in the discus (101’8”) and placed second overall in shot put (31’10”). Sophomore teammate Celia Bower was third in discus and sixth in shot put. Junior Karlie Spud notched a fourth in discus.
Besides Young, sophomore Serena Badgley captured the only event victory for the girls squad, winning the triple jump with a 31'1.25" leap. Long-distance freshman Zayla Asquith-Heinz posted third-place finishes in the 1,600-meters (6:10.89) and 3,200-meters (13:20.62). Senior Hannah Wing placed third overall in the 100-meter dash (14.11), classmate Marnie Rasmussen was third in the 400-meter run (1:08.86) and sisters Anna and Libby Jacobson were fifth and sixth respectively in the 800-meter run (2:56.46 and 2:58.12).
Junior Jess Giddings was fourth in the 100-meter hurdles (19.25) and freshman Natalia Taylor placed fifth in the 300-meter hurdles. Haines girls’ teams finished second in the 4-by-200 relay (2:02.37) and fourth in the 4-by-400 relay (5:03.79).
Longtime field coach Stanford said the program owes its success to the many volunteers and assistant coaches like Dave Berry Jr. and Tyrell Horton who volunteer to work with athletes.Brian O’Riley generates excitement for the sport through a junior high track program he leads, Stanford said.“It’s the whole system that’s in place.”