Athletes endure cold, snow at Juneau track meet
Senior Patrick Henderson opened Haines High School’s track and field season right, soaring to the title in the high jump even as the fate of last weekend’s meet was in doubt.
The competition at Thunder Mountain High School in Juneau started with indoor events due to unseasonably late snow in Southeast.
“I woke up and noticed there was upwards of six inches of snow on the ground and thought, ‘How is this going to work?’” said coach Lexie DeWitt. “Especially with this being my first meet I’ve attended as a coach, I was a little nervous about how the whole procedure was going to go, and whether or not we were even going to have a meet.”
Along with the high jump, the shot put was held indoors at Thunder Mountain, in an auxiliary gym. Henderson topped 4A opponents to take the overall title in the high jump, clearing 5’8’’ to win by four inches. That height matched Henderson’s best mark from 2012. The outdoor slate on Friday was set to be limited to the two-mile, until the weather improved and the meet continued through around 10 p.m., under the lights.
The meet included athletes from Juneau-Douglas, Ketchikan, Petersburg, Sitka, Skagway, Thunder Mountain and Yakutat. The Haines boys placed fifth as a team, trailing only Sitka among small schools, and the girls were sixth, behind Sitka and Petersburg.
“I forgot how fun it is to watch the kids race,” DeWitt said. “It’s a really, really exciting time, and the kids, I think, had a great time. A lot of (personal bests), even for the conditions, and a lot of first-time runners doing events that they’ve never done before, and I think they were all successful.”
The Glacier Bears unexpectedly left a day early for the meet on Thursday, April 25, she said, and that dropped participation a bit.
“The kids actually came to school and then found out, so then they had to run back during advisory and go pack and then make the ferry,” DeWitt said. “I didn’t have that many kids go because of illness and some of them had a hard time getting stuff, and with the changes it was hard for them to wrap their mind that they were leaving that day.”
Seven Haines girls made the trip to Juneau, with their performances highlighted by senior Jess Giddings, second in the 100-meter hurdles; junior Serena Badgley, second in the triple jump and fourth in the 100-meter dash; and senior Alisha Young, third in the shot put and fifth in both the discus and 100-meter hurdles. Badgley was first for small schools in the triple jump and 100 meters, and Young was the top small-school shot putter.
Badgley, who finished third in the state last year in the triple jump, said her goal is to reach 34 feet. She was less than an inch short of 31 feet last weekend in Juneau. “I’d like to get to state again for triple jump,” she said.
Among the top results for the Haines boys were senior Chris Olsen, second in the triple jump; and sophomore Keegan Sundberg, second in the 400-meter dash. Both Glacier Bears were first for small-school entrants. Haines was strong in the 400 meters, with juniors Walker Blair and Kai Sato-Franks finishing fourth and fifth, respectively.
“It was a different experience,” Sato-Franks said. “It was pretty cold, and I cramped up during my event.”
Henderson was fourth in the 800 meters, junior Chevy Fowler fifth in the long jump and 110-meter hurdles, junior Justin Swinton sixth in the 200 meters, and junior Dalton Tuohy sixth in the 1,600 meters.
Tuohy did not run track last year, and still managed to post a 5:07.13 time in the mile. Tuohy said he’s aiming to break five minutes this season. He said his racing strategy is to “save it all, as much as you can, for the last lap, but don’t wait until you’re too far behind.”
DeWitt noted the meet closed with the 4 by 400-meter relay, when the anchor Sundberg passed a Juneau-Douglas runner on the last leg to give the Glacier Bears second place overall, and first in their division.
“That was the last race of the day, so it was a great ending to a long weekend,” she said.
The Glacier Bears were set to host the Haines Invitational track meet this weekend, May 3-4, but that event was cancelled Wednesday due to unsuitable conditions at the high school track. The next meet on the schedule is the May 10-11 Region V championship in Juneau, leading up to the state competition the following weekend in Fairbanks.