Chilkat Valley News - Serving Haines and Klukwan, Alaska since 1966

Finish frigid for Bear track team


A season of wacky weather came to a fitting close for Haines High School at last weekend’s frigid state track and field championship in Fairbanks, where the girls placed seventh and the boys 13th among the 20 small schools that tallied points.

“The weather was almost worse than our entire winter of weather that we had,” said coach Lexie

DeWitt. “It was about 20s and blowing and snowing and really cold for the athletes and the coaches.”

Haines was competing in only its third meet of the year, following an invitational at Thunder Mountain High School

and the Region V championship in Juneau. Strong headwinds slowed many times, but the Glacier Bears still managed several top-five finishes.

“Despite all of the adversity that happened and all of the challenges, I thought it was a good season,” DeWitt said. “We sent 17 kids to state, which is great.”

For the girls, senior Alisha Young was second in the discus (96’09’’), and classmate Karlie Spud (96’01’’) was third. Junior Serena Badgley placed second in the triple jump (32’07.00), and the 4 by 100-meter relay team

of Badgley, Young, senior Jess Giddings and sophomore Celia Bower sprinted to a fifth-place finish.

“We were just really practicing and focusing on our handoffs, just because, from the regional meet, we were worried that dropping a baton could cost us,” DeWitt said. “I just wanted a good, clean race and to have them feel good

about it.”

Young, who also earned sixth place honors in the shot put, balanced her throwing events with sprints and hurdles as a Glacier Bear. When asked if she was surprised by her performance at state, Young responded, “In those conditions, I didn’t know what to expect.”

She said the weather throughout the season was an obstacle for athletes new to the team, as snow limited time on the track to learn technical points. “I couldn’t imagine starting track in the snow,” said Young, who first took up the discus in eighth grade.

Senior Chris Olsen paced the Haines boys with a fourth-place finish in the triple jump (38’11’’). Senior Patrick Henderson tied for fourth in the high jump (5’6’’) and sophomore Keegan Sundberg ran 54.05 in the 400 meters for fifth place.

The 4 by 400-meter relay team of Henderson, Olsen, Sundberg and junior Kai Sato-Franks was fourth, the best relay finish for the Glacier Bears at state.

“That was Saturday afternoon and by that point, the wind had died down, the sun had come out and it was warming up to about 40,” DeWitt said.

Other state qualifiers for Haines were Badgley, seventh in the girls’ 100-meter dash, junior Chevy Fowler, seventh in the boys’ long jump; and both 4 by 800-meter relay teams; the girls were sixth and the boys eighth.

The Haines girls were the top Southeast team at state for small schools, finishing ahead of Petersburg and Sitka, which had bested the Glacier Bears at regionals.

The boys trailed only Sitka among Southeast small schools. The top three, overall teams for boys in that division were Anchorage Christian, Houston and Grace Christian, while Grace Christian, Homer and Skyview led the girls’ scoring race.

“For next year, the kids need to maintain their fitness,” DeWitt said. “If they enjoy going for runs during the summer, run. There are lots of different programs and videos that they can watch to improve vertical height and

horizontal jumps.”

DeWitt, a first-year coach, said she appreciated the support of her assistant coaches this season, as well as help from parent Al Giddings, who braved the drive to Fairbanks for state.

“Driving up there was beautiful; driving back took us three hours to drive 100 miles, because the weather was so horrific that we had a really challenging drive home,” she said. “Al Giddings stuck it out with us and I was

happy to have him there to help me.”


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