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

Bananas: Glacier Bears mix it up before regional championships


Glacier Bear runners and throwers went a little off script at last week’s Haines Invitational, and it included a banana relay.

Besides a baton, runners in the boys’ 4-by-100 meter relay ran with a banana. That is, the fruit.

“It was one of those things they really wanted to do,” said coach Keri Ewing. “I thought, ‘Is this worth a fight in front of everyone? Probably not. ’”

Seniors Matthew Green, Kai Hays, Zane Durr and sophomore Carl Tupou carried the banana for Haines, finishing amid squads from Thunder Mountain and Juneau-Douglas high schools.

Coach Ewing said he relaxed rules for the meet, including by allowing a Juneau coach to fill out a relay team and permitting Green to participate in eight events – the relay, 100-meter run, 110-meter high hurdles, 300-meter hurdles, high jump, long jump, shot put and discus.

Green’s finishes include second in 110-hurdles (21.06), fourth in 300 hurdles (48.95), third in shot (39-1.5), third in discus (112-5.5), second in high jump (5-0) and fifth in long jump (16-1.5). Competitors finishing in the top four places in events scored points in the three-way meet.

“The field events were held early in the meet and the runs were split up, so doing all those events was possible,” Ewing said. Under official rules, track athletes are held to four events.

Green, junior Jacob Stigen and twin sister Jordan Stigen entered the 110-meter high hurdles, a first for each. Jacob posted a 20.84 to win the boys’ event (39-inch hurdle), as Juneau hurdlers sat out the event. In the girls’ race (33-inch hurdle), Jordan ran 23.89 to place fourth behind Juneau runners. Naomi Welling of Thunder Mountain won the girls’ in 17.62.

The Stigen twins each will be entered in both hurdle races at next weekend’s meet in Juneau. Coach Ewing said Jacob’s time in the 300 meters puts him at about 11th among small school runners statewide in the event. Jordan placed fourth in the 300 last week in 1:05.25. Welling of Thunder Mountain won the event in 48.20.

“As rookies, Jacob and Jordan have come a long way. Jordan shows great consistency in going over the hurdles. She has really good form,” Ewing said. In the 110-meter race, that helped her beat a Juneau runner who stumbled next to her.

Senior sprinter Casey Bradford placed second in the 400-meter run last week (58.25) behind Thunder Mountain’s John Morris (57.71) and placed an impressive fourth in shot put with a throw of 35-8.5

In addition, Bradford led the Haines 4-by-400 meter relay team on an impressive comeback, catching several places. “Casey came back from being about a half-lap behind. We were able to catch a couple guys. It made it exciting to end a track meet like that,” Ewing said.

Bradford is expected to lead Haines runners at regionals, and will be entered in the 200 and 400-meter races, 4-by-100 relay and discus. “He’s fast and he has fast starts, so I need him coming out of the blocks,” Ewing said.

Senior Nattaphon “Ice” Wangyot again led the girls’ running effort, winning the 100-meter (13.66) and placing second in the 200-meter (29.63), close behind Thunder Mountain’s Aly Heaton (29.45).

In throwing events, classmate Destinee Cowart again dominated, winning discus with a throw of 90-5, nearly five feet beyond a 85-6.5 throw by classmate Bailey Stuart. Cowart has consistently improved, adding 21 feet to her personal record in the event in the last three meets.

Senior Autumn Gross placed second in shot (29-6) behind Ava Tompkins of Thunder Mountain (32-9). Stuart was third in the event (27-10).

Haines will take 10 boys and five girls to this weekend’s regional championship in Juneau.

The team will include freshman Kamakana Kanahele, entered in 100-meter and 200-meter dashes, freshman Corbin Holm, 100-meter run and high jump, junior Dylan Palmieri, discus and 4-by-400 relay, and freshman Patrick Cunningham, 110-meter hurdles, 300-meter hurdles, 800 meters, and 4-by-400 meter relay.

Ewing said he’s aware that his teams are thin in distance runners, once an area of strength for the Glacier Bears.

“I’m hoping with the success we’ve had with a smaller number of athletes this year, it will encourage more kids to come out next year. (Middle school track coach) Brian O’Riley has done a good job with his program this year,” Ewing said.

To contribute to sending Glacier Bear athletes to the state meet May 27-28 in Anchorage, contact athletic director Tiana Taylor at the school, 766-6700.


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