The Haines High School boys’ and girls’ track and field teams will open their season this weekend, April 26-27, at Juneau’s Thunder Mountain High School.
The schedule includes a May 3-4 meet in Haines, the May 10-11 Region V championship in Juneau, and the state championship May 17-18 in Fairbanks.
“Now that the meets are approaching, we’re really going to harness in on their technique,” said first-year coach Lexie DeWitt. “We’ve given them a good base of fitness, and now we need to work on the technique.”
Her team of about 40 students started practicing in late March. Around 30 of the athletes will be making the trip to Juneau for the first meet, DeWitt said.
“It’s been pretty rainy; they haven’t been able to get on the track,” she said. “This past week has been, really, the only time we’ve been able to practice on the track successfully, without the kids being covered in mud or stepping in puddles and snow and ice.”
The boys were third among small schools at the 2012 state meet, trailing Grace Christian and Anchorage Christian in a field of 18 teams. Two of the most decorated returnees for the Glacier Bears are senior Chris Olsen, runner-up in the triple jump, and senior Patrick Henderson, who placed fourth in the high jump and sixth in the 800 meters. Haines also was impressive in relays in 2012.
“We’re really excited about our senior talent this year,” DeWitt said. “They’ve been on the team for four years, and they’re going to be able to demonstrate all their ability that they’ve learned.”
Both the boys’ and girls’ squads were regional champions last year, and 25 Glacier Bears advanced to the state meet. The girls were fifth of 16 squads in their division at state, behind Grace Christian, Anchorage Christian, Monroe Catholic and Cook Inlet Academy.
Several returning Glacier Bear girls have state experience, including senior Alisha Young, who was second in the discus and fourth in the shot put last year; junior Serena Badgley, third in the triple jump; and sophomore Zayla Asquith-Heinz, eighth in the 1,600-meter run.
DeWitt said she is working with “expert” coaches like Greg Schlachter and Jim Stanford “to really help me put together a great season for the kids and, hopefully, have a lot of successful events.”
Schlachter focuses on the jumping events, while Stanford works with the throwers. The Glacier Bears seem well set in the triple jump, as Olsen and Badgley figure to be in the mix for state titles.
“It’s a combination of speed, technique and strength,” Schlachter said.
Olsen said what he enjoys most about track is “all the company, we’ve got great coaches, and I’d have to say the competitiveness.”
DeWitt was a collegiate rower and teaches physical education at the Haines School.
“I’ve taken a lot of my rowing training to really get the kids to work to motivate each other - even though it’s an individual sport – to really work as a team and demonstrate positive behavior and leadership to make this a memorable season for them,” she said.