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Track teams place 2nd, 3rd at regional meet


About 20 athletes will represent Haines High School at this weekend’s state track and field championship in Fairbanks.

The Glacier Bears advanced to state through their performances at the May 10-11 Region V championship in Juneau, where the boys finished second among small schools, and the girls were third. Sitka was first in both divisions, and Petersburg was second in the girls’ overall scoring. Angoon, Gustavus, Skagway, Thorne Bay and Yakutat also competed at the event.

“It was a lot different than the two weeks before; everybody was sunburnt,” said first-year coach Lexie DeWitt. “I think the heat really got to some of our distance runners.”

Haines opened its season last month at Thunder Mountain High School in a meet that was nearly canceled due to heavy snowfall. The following weekend’s Haines Invitational was scrapped due to poor track conditions. The Region V championship, though, had one clear day and one rainy day as athletes vied for state.

Each regional champion from throughout Alaska advances to state, as well as select, next-best finishers, regardless of region. Champions for the Haines boys’ team at Region V included senior Patrick Henderson in the high jump (5’6’’), senior Chris Olsen in the triple jump (39’01.50), and sophomore Keegan Sundberg in the 400 meters (55.06).

Sundberg said he is aiming for a top-five finish at state. “I have lots of stamina, so I’m able to go fast for a long period of time, and I’m competitive.”

Henderson, Olsen and Sundberg also were on the winning 4 by 400-meter relay team, along with junior Walker Blair. The Glacier Bear team of senior Zach Rossman, juniors Kai Sato-Franks and Dalton Tuohy and sophomore Terry Davis won the 4 by 800-meter relay. Junior Chevy Fowler rounded out Haines’ state qualifiers with a second-place finish in the long jump (18’01.75).

“I thought I’d have a good chance at first, and then the two guys who I was trying to beat jumped way farther than I thought they’d jump, so it was unexpected,” said Fowler, who noted he jumped three feet farther than he did last year.

Junior Serena Badgley won the 100-meter dash (13.93) and triple jump (31’03.25) for the Haines girls. Senior Alisha Young was first in the discus (92’02’’) and second in the shot put (29’11.75), qualifying for state in both events. Senior Karlie Spud’s runner-up discus throw of 84’03’’ also earned her a spot at state.

Sophomores Zayla Asquith-Heinz, Jennie Humphrey, Natalia Taylor and junior Libby Jacobson took the title in the 4 by 800-meter relay. All were running in their first meet of the season.

“It’s rewarding, because it’s such a hard race to do,” Humphrey said.

Jacobson said relays help to ease nerves. “You get to warm up with your team and it’s not as nerve racking, because you’re all in it together.”

Badgley, Young, sophomore Celia Bower and senior Jess Giddings were second in the 4 by 100-meter relay to Sitka, but later landed a place at state when that Wolves’ team scratched, DeWitt said.

“It was a very close race, so they deserved to go,” she said.

Sitka, under the direction of former Haines coach Jeremy Strong, had strength in numbers at the regional meet.

“Sitka has a big team and they have a lot of depth,” DeWitt said. “As (throwing coach) Jim Stanford would put it, we’re like David and all the other teams are like Goliath, especially at the state meet, but ‘even though we’re small, we continue to dominate.’”

She said the boys’ throwers will be strong next year. Freshman Kai Hays was third in the shot put and fourth in the discus. Among the distance runners, Tuohy broke five minutes in the 1,600 meters (4:59.81) as a fourth-place finisher, and Asquith-Heinz was second in both the 1,600 and 3,200 for girls, narrowly missing a state berth. Relays also had some near-misses, DeWitt said.

“I think there’s a lot of stuff that I definitely learned and the kids learned, and we will do better next year,” she said. “Some of our relays struggled a little bit, as far as handoffs, but those are all things that I, as a coach, know that I need to improve on, working with the kids more on the more technical aspects.”