Did Saturday's cold, damp, rainy, miserable weather slow down the 2003 Kenai Borough Meet at Skyview High School?
"Maybe just the times," said Skyview track coach Rob Sparks.
But poor weather conditions, flashing spots of sun between frequent rain showers, drizzles and wind gusts could not stop Sparks' boys team and the Soldotna girls from winning team competition crowns from the Friday and Saturday meet.
The Panthers earned 154 points to beat out second-place Kenai, with 122 points, and a third-place Soldotna team that earned 104 points. On the girls side, Soldotna tallied 153 points to outscore runner-up Seward's 118 points and third-place Nikiski's 84 points.
Some athletes blamed the rain and cold for foiling what had been progressive improvement of their individual performances.
"On a warm day, when we get everything going, we would've gotten the school record," said Skyview senior Mike Waer about his 800-meter relay team missing the 1 minute, 34.9 second-mark by three-tenths of a second. "We've been working really hard to reach it."
Soldotna's Ari Goldstein moves away from Seward's Whitney Anderson at the beginning of the last lap of the 1600-meter event Saturday.
Photo by M. Scott Moon
The team of Waer, juniors Ty Pepper and Jack Reed and freshman Jacob Bellinger easily won the 800 relay and the 400 relay in times of 1:35.38 and 45.76, respectively.
The Kenai boys middle distance runners weren't affected by the chilly climate, however, and managed to bring home a sizable win in the 3,200 relay, while a sheet of rain poured on them.
The combination of Mick Boyle, Trevor Baldwin, Morgan Salten-berger and Clifford Cochran sped through the downpour to finish in a time of 8:43, more than 15 seconds ahead of the next team. Baldwin won the open 3,200 race, and Boyle and Baldwin finished one-two in both the 1,600 and 800 races.
"We were looking forward to this meet," Boyle said. "We wanted to finish one-two in both races."
Kenai senior Dallas Baldwin won the girls' high jump, clearing 5 feet, 4 inches. She said she was disappointed, however, because she wasn't able to tie the state record of 5-6.
"My goal since my freshman year has been to break (that) record," she said. "I jumped it today, but I dropped my butt and knocked the bar down."
Skyview's Adam Kosydar competes to a first-place finish in the discus event with a 159-foot, 8-inch throw.
Photo by M. Scott Moon
A cloud of a different kind settled over the Kardinals when freshman Kyle Coleman broke his left knee while attempting to clear 5-6. He was taken to Central Peninsula General Hospital where Coach Liz Burck said he would be seen by a bone specialist and would probably have surgery on Monday.
"Everyone from the Skyview team is thinking about Kyle," said Skyview senior Kevin McGrady, who won the event with a 6-foot leap.
Homer senior Cody Smith won the 400 race with a time of 52.45. He said he wants to overcome the freeze-up he experiences at the end of races.
"I went out on the first 200 meters too fast," Smith said. "If I see anyone in front of me, I'm going to try to catch them. But I tightened up in the last 150 meters."
Soldotna's girls were led by wins from hurdler Tracy Pitts, triple jumper Brittany Gardner, Ari Goldstein in the 800 and 1,600 and by a victory from junior Brandi Denna in the 400. Both Stars overcame opponents who led going into the final stages of their particular races.
Denna was behind two runners going into the third turn of the 400 when she burst past them in the curve to spring ahead after the final turn.
Kenai's Nathan Schmidt lunges to third place at the finish of the 100-meter dash Saturday.
Photo by M. Scott Moon
"I knew I was going to pass Skyview's (Laurel Creel) in the first turn," Denna said. "And I passed Rachel (McCarten, of Soldotna) in the second turn. I was all alone in the front stretch."
She finished with a time of 1:03.93.
Goldstein followed closely in the hip pocket of Seward's Whitney Anderson in the first three laps of the mile race. At the beginning of the final lap, just after the gun sounded the warning, Goldstein shot past Anderson and opened up a gap between the two 20 meters wide, before finishing with a time of 5:13.95.
"I didn't expect her to take out so early in the last lap," Anderson said. "I tried to run with her, but I haven't learned to sprint for as long as she can."
Goldstein said the pass was not difficult.
"It's just training," she said. "We train to be able to do that on the last lap."
Goldstein also reeled Anderson in on the second (and final) lap of the 800 run, quickly rabbiting ahead of the Seward runner for another win, with a time of 2:28.65.
Gardner won the triple jump with a distance of 33-1 3/4, but said she missed out on setting a personal record.
"I scratched on what would have been 34-7," she said. "And the time I logged was one foot behind my P.R."
Pitts, who has logged high-ranking state times in both the 100 and 300 hurdles, only won the 100 Saturday. Although she also took second in the 300 and in the long jump, she said she was displeased with not sweeping the hurdle events.
"That's all I've really been concentrating on all year," Pitts said. "In my mind, compared to other state times, I should be first in both."
She ran a 17.10 in the 100 Saturday, and clocked a 49.96 in what she considered a slow 300.
Nikiski's girls 400 relay team cruised to victory and a new school record of 51.98 seconds, beating the previous record of 53.49. The team of Eirleen Lee, Angie Doty, Svenja Lau and Georgi Heaverly opened up a lead on the rest of the field that was never relinquished.
Nikiski coach Ned Clooten said he noticed faults, however, that could prove to be the team's undoing against stiffer competition.
"Every time, we have one hand-off we botch," he said. "In regions, we're not going to be able to do that."
Doty also won the 100 dash with a time of 13.38.
Seward's Anderson was able to grab victories from Soldotna in the 3,200 and in the 3,200 relay, winning the individual race in a time of 11:32.60 and beating second-place Soldotna finisher Katie Franzmann.
The Seahawks' Michelle Dieckgraeff won both the discus and the shot put, throwing for distances of 107-10 and 32-8, respectively, without having practiced for a week due to a shoulder injury.
She said she expected to be active this week, however, preparing for the Region III Championships to be held at Skyview High this Thursday through Saturday.
"I think I did well for not having practiced," she said. "But I'm going to practice this week to get my steps down."
Sparks said he didn't expect the Panthers' team win, and said he anticipated a challenge from Kenai.
"When I figured this up on paper, I figured Kenai would beat us," he said. "This is a big surprise. Their sprinters have been running faster times. But everybody on our team went out there today and ran their best races."
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