Two Big Reds made a smashing return to the top of the Kenai Peninsula Borough track scene Friday and Saturday at Skyview High School in the borough meet.
Red-headed Michelle Edwards, competing in her first meet of the year, took two individual events and anchored a victorious relay to lead red-wearing Kenai to its first borough title since the early 1980s.
The Kardinals scored 169 points to defeat runner-up Soldotna by 60 points and snap the Stars' streak of seven straight borough titles.
Edwards punctuated the victory by coming from behind and passing Soldotna on the final leg of the meet's final event -- the 1,600-meter relay.
Even though she ran two 400s and two 800s Saturday, Edwards actually felt good enough to smile and raise her arms as she crossed the finish line after the 1,600 relay. Moments later, she was mobbed ecstatic teammates.
"That was what it's all about," said Kenai senior Tamanika Haynes of Edwards' final relay leg. "It was just like saying, 'Kenai is back.'
"Nobody has looked at us as being good in track. Skyview has been Soldotna's rival for a long time, not us. Maybe now Soldotna will look at us as their rival."
Edwards finished second in the state in the 400 last year, but her season got off to a slow start this year. The sophomore is a 3.8 student, but she became ineligible when she missed a week of school while attending a state bowling tournament.
"It's been tough not running," Edwards said. "I've been ready to run at all of the meets. I was really excited to come out and finally run."
In Friday's preliminaries, Edwards ran the 400 in 59.7 seconds, which would have been the state's fastest heading into the weekend. She also outkicked Skyview's Erika Edwards, who set the borough record in the 3,200 Friday, in the 800. The two Edwards are not related.
"Having to sit out the first part of the year increased (Edwards') drive and desire," said Kenai co-coach Rebecca Hunter, who was a senior in high school when Soldotna won the first of its seven straight titles in 1993. "She has become really focused on track."
Kenai's victory was particularly satisfying for Haynes, the only senior on Kenai's girls team. Haynes won the 100, finished second in the 200 and anchored Kenai's victorious 800 relay team Saturday.
All of this came even though Haynes is still battling to come back from a nasty case of mono she contracted back during Christmas break.
"All the hard work is paying off," Haynes said. "I wanted this so bad, especially in my senior year."
The other big chunk of Kenai's points came from Dallas Baldwin, who took both the long jump and high jump. However, what really carried the day for Kenai was depth. The Kards placed two in the 100, three in the 200 and three in the 400.
"Every point counted today," Hunter said.
The Stars ran well, but got nothing from their field events. The only points there came from Sasha Cvetkovski, who won the discus and was third in the shot put, and Janna Schaafsma, who was third in the long jump.
"We used to win the field events, but now that area is just decimated," said Soldotna coach Mark Devenney. "We have to rebuild there."
On the track, Soldotna got a win from Schaafsma in the 100 hurdles and received victories from the 400 and 3,200 relay teams.
The 3,200 relay team of Sarah Histand, Marisa Kimbrell, Annette Rhoades and Megan Newbould turned in a 9:57.70 to break a borough record.
The Stars also put up a 51.79 in the 400 relay, which would have been the state's best heading into the weekend. That team is made up of Schaafsma, Histand, Rhoades and Lissa Cristiano.
"The 400 relay is a handoff race," said Histand, who is in the unique position of playing a key role on a 400 and 3,200 relay team. "We did that well today because we've been working on handoffs a lot."
The other borough record came from Skyview's Edwards, who won the 3,200 in 11:20.0 to lower her own borough record by 20 seconds. That mark also broke Skyview's school record and would have been the state's best heading into the weekend.
"I'd been sick last weekend so I didn't know how I'd do," said Edwards, who also won the 1,600. "I decided I'd come out today and really go for that school record."
Edwards' performances led Skyview to third in the borough even though their team has just six girls.
"We don't have a lot of girls, but they're very competitive," Skyview coach Rob Sparks said. "It's not easy to score over 80 points with just six girls."
Other individual winners on the day were Homer's Erin Pate in the triple jump, Homer's Karen Parkinson in the discus, Nikiski's Katie Floyd in the 300 hurdles and Ninilchik's Molly Bosick in the 200.
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