Haines High School freshmen stepped up at last weekend’s Ketchikan Invitational Track Meet, teaming up with the team’s seniors to put dents in the competition. Six freshman and three seniors competed.

Ninth-graders Dante Light and Siyel Galindo-George provided half the wheels for the boys’ 4-by-400 squad. With seniors Jacob Stigen and Mori Hays, the squad placed second overall (4:02.21), including large schools, behind Thunder Mountain (3:51.44).

“That was an amazing race. Dante took us out. Mori passed three people to take us into second (place). Jacob took the baton in the final leg and got passed by Ketchikan on the back turn, then he caught the same guy to put us back into second,” said coach Keri Ewing.

Stigen, the team workhorse, led Haines scorers with a third place in 110 hurdles (17.63) and fifth in the 300 hurdles (46.30). He finished eighth in the preliminary heat of the 200-meter run (25.26). “He’s obviously worked really hard. You can tell he’s really determined this year,” Ewing said.

Senior Dylan Palmieri finished third in discus (109-04) and eighth in shot put (33 feet).

Light made an impressive high school debut, including fourth in the discus (100-10), 14th in long jump (13-09.75) and 12th in the preliminary heat of the 100-meter dash (12.78). “Coach (Ewing) signed me up for the 400,” Light said before the meet. “At running long distances, I’m pretty lazy I guess. I feel better about short distances.”

Ewing said the relay squad’s enthusiasm made the difference. “We brought a vibe to the track. We were loud and excited and fired up to compete.”

Galindo-George notched ninth-place in the 1,600-meter run (5:09) and 10th in the 3,200 meters (11:13). Hays, who took last season off from the sport, placed fifth in the long jump (16-03.50) and eighth in the 110 hurdles (19.53) and ran two places behind Stigen in the 300 hurdles preliminary (47.46).

For the girls’ squad, freshman Becca Walker got on score sheets with a 14th place finish in shot put (18 feet) and 13th in discus (50-06). Classmate Megan Whitermore was 16th in long jump (10-04.50).

“Both girls did great for their first track meet. It was obviously nerve-wracking for their first event. Once they got over that, they were much more relaxed. They got a taste for what a track meet could be,” Ewing said.

Other Haines athletes competing included freshman Kirby Faverty and classmate Cade Clay.

The fate of this year’s squad may rest on rookies finding events in which they can score.

With 18 athletes, the team is three members bigger than last year’s, but seven team members are freshmen. They’re likely to be the team’s future, as six other members are seniors. There are four sophomores and a junior.

“It’s a younger group,” Ewing said. “It will be a lot of learning and kids finding where they fit in and what they like. It’s definitely different from having the big bunch of seniors we had last year.”

The squad will next compete at the Juneau Invitational May 5-6. The girls squad will field a 4-by-100 meter relay team there, Ewing said.

The team includes Keegan Palmieri, Tailer Olsson, Madeline Andriesen, Corbin Holm, Kiana Donat, Patrick Cunningham, and Jordan Stigen.