As Kenai Peninsula track teams prepare for the Region II, Region III 1-2-3A and Region III 4A meets today and Saturday, past performances are insignificant. The top finishers from each region finals and the next best 12 times statewide qualify for Class 4A individual events. On the 1-2-3A side, the top finisher from each region is joined by the next best four statewide times. The top relay team and the next best four times qualify for state for all relays and all classifications.
"Everything they have done up until this point means nothing," Seward track coach Lori Krier said. "You got to do it this weekend."
Nikiski is hosting the Region II and Region III 1-2-3A meets while Palmer has the Region III 4A meet.
Field events in Nikiski start at 11 a.m. today. The 3,200-meter run will be at 2:30 p.m. today.
Saturday, field events begin at 9:30 a.m. and running finals begin at noon. Here's a look at how each team should fare:
On the girls side, Lierin Flanagan is ranked first in the state in the 200-meter dash and 400 on athletic.net. She's also part of the top-ranked 1,600 relay with Leah Sandahl, Bailey Beeson and Shaynee DeVito. The same foursome is second in the region in the 800 relay and fifth in the state. Kenai track coach Tim Sandahl said he expects both relays to make it to state.
Kenai's 400 relay of Samantha Hull, Beeson, Leah Sandahl and Sasha Thompson also has a chance to make it to Fairbanks, Sandahl said.
Sandahl said Beeson should qualify for state in the 400 and DeVito should make it in both hurdle events. Both are ranked fifth in the state their individual events.
Leah Sandahl is 10th in the state in the 100 hurdles and Hull is ranked eighth in the region and has a shot at making state, coach Sandahl said.
Kailey Mucha and Carolyn Kiefer will look to earn a state bid in the 800, Sandahl said. Mucha is ranked fourth in the region in that event and Kiefer qualified for state last year.
Kendra Ashwell has a chance to qualify for the discus, Sandahl said. She took fourth in that event at last week's Kenai Peninsula Borough meet.
On the boys side, Tyler Spalding shares a first-place ranking in the state in the high jump and the No. 1 spot in the triple jump all to himself. He's eighth in the state in the long jump and seventh in the discus. He should qualify in all four events, Sandahl said.
Billy Kiefer will look to go to state in the 800 and 1,600. He's ranked fifth in the region in both events.
AJ Hull is third in the state in the 300 hurdles and should advance to state, Sandahl said. He said Joe Sandahl, too, can make state in both hurdle events should he run personal bests in both.
The boys 1,600 relay is third in the region and tied for sixth in the state and has a good chance to qualify for the state meet.
Sandahl said Kodiak, Palmer and Colony will battle for the team title at regions due to their depth.
"They seem to have guys in just about every event," he said.
Wasilla's girls should win but second place is up for grabs, Sandahl said. But Kenai can't be counted out, he said.
Head coach Dave Emery is hoping his 400 and 800 relays, both comprised of Megan Gordon, Jelly Nolden, Alicia Hamilton and Mariah Ulen, can earn a state berth. He said Gordon also looks strong in the long jump and 200.
Ulen is tied for fifth in the state with six other girls in the high jump and is ranked fourth in the 300 hurdles. She should make it to state in both events, Emery said.
"She's having a great year and she's just starting to peak now, too," he said. "She's really improved her 300 hurdles. I think she's going to be a legit contender for those hurdles at the state meet."
Emery said he's hopeful that Jessie Duke will qualify in the discus and Bree Mucha in the 400. They are ranked second and fifth in the region, respectively.
On the boys side, Colton Schneider should qualify in the 400. He's ranked third in the region in that event. Emery said he hopes the 800 relay of Schneider, Chris Nolden, Tyler McGillivary and Philip Bennett, and the 1,600 relay of Schneider, McGillivary, Bennett and Lucas Michael can make state.
Discus thrower Tanner Minogue, ranked sixth in the region, also has a shot at state, Emery said.
"We had a lot of PRs last weekend," Emery said of the borough meet. "I'm hopeful that we can take another step this weekend."
He said Kodiak, Wasilla and Kenai will compete for team titles on both sides. As for SoHi, it's trying to have as much representation possible in Fairbanks.
"We want to try to get as many kids to state as we can," Emery said.
Reigning 800 champion Ivy O'Guinn will look to defend her crown as well as compete for titles in the 3,200 and 1,600. She'll run all three at regions but might cut it down to two individual events at state, Panthers head coach Rob Sparks said.
She's ranked second in the 800, first in the 1,600 and third in the 3,200 in the state.
Jumping specialist Casee Penrod should qualify in the long jump. She's currently ranked ninth in the state. She also has a chance to make it in the triple jump, Sparks said.
Paris Cooper will look to return to state in the 200 and 400 and Megan Parham has a chance in the discus, Sparks said.
Cody Williams has a chance in the 800, 1,600 and 3,200 for the boys, Sparks said. Derrick Parham is seventh in the region in discus and could to go state. Sprinters Jasen Sounveri and Albert White could make it in the 100 and 200, Sparks said. Sounveri is eighth in the region in the 100 and sixth in the 200. White is ranked sixth in the 100 and eighth in the 200 in the region. Brayden Holt also has a chance in the 1,600 and 3,200, he said.
A total of 17 boys and 15 girls will represent SkyHi at regions, Sparks said. Improving on times will depend, to some extent, on the weather, he said.
"If we get a nice day and good weather, we tend to have pretty good times," Sparks said.
Wasilla's girls and Kodiak's boys will be tough to beat, Sparks said.
"It just seems like Wasilla has the numbers this year," he said.
Palmer and Colony will give Kodiak a fight for the boys title, Sparks said.
Megan Hansen will look to defend her state title in the discus.
"We're hoping she can do a repeat," Bulldogs head coach Dan Adair said.
Hansen, along with Kassi Johnson, should qualify for both throwing events at state, he said.
Hansen is currently third in the state in the shot put and fourth in the discus for 1-2-3A schools. Johnson's ranked sixth in the shot put and second in the discus.
On the boys side, the 1,600 relay team of Stephen Hartley, Trevor Ray, Jordan Taylor and Sayyid Parrish have a chance at state, Adair said. He said Parrish has been improving each week.
"He's been getting faster times every week," Adair said. "If he continues that trend though this weekend, he has a decent shot to go to state in the 100 or 200."
Adair said he expects Seward to have a good showing at regions.
"Seward has some really good distance runners," he said. "They always do well there."
Heritage Christian, too, will contend for a team title.
"They always have some good talent," Adair said. "It should be an exciting track meet."
Maddy Campbell and Kristina Atherton should both go to state in the 300 hurdles, Krier said. Atherton is currently sixth in the state for 1-2-3A schools.
Distance runner Alison Barnwell could go in three individual events, the 800, 1,600 and 3,200, Krier said. She's ranked third in the 800 and second in both the 1,600 and 3,200.
Barnwell's also part of the second-ranked 3,200 relay team along with Atherton, Kelley Sefton and Maggie Herbert, which should be running in Fairbanks.
Herbert is ranked in the state in the 400. Herbert and shot putter Tessa Adelmann should both go to state, Krier said. Adelmann is ranked second in the state in the shot put.
If handoffs go well, the girls 400 and 800 relays, too, could earn state berths, Krier said.
On the boys side, throwers Beau Crosby and Evan Pullins should make state, Krier said. Crosby is ranked eighth in shot put and seventh in the discus in the state. Pullins is ranked third in the discus. Jesse Atherton is ranked seventh in the shot put and also should go to state, she said.
Both the 400 and 800 relays are ranked second in the state.
Hurdler Aaron Sorenson should run both events at state. He's ranked fifth in the state in the 110 hurdles and seventh in the 300 hurdles. Atherton's ranked sixth in the 300 hurdles.
Andrew Buchanan should qualify for state in the 400 and 800, Krier said. He's ranked fourth in the state in the 400 and sixth in the 800. Brett Chase is ranked ninth in the 800 and fourth in the 1,600.
Austin Gillespie is ranked sixth in the 1,600 and fifth in the 3,200.
Krier said Grace Christian and Anchorage Christian Schools will compete for team titles on both sides.
Cook Inlet Academy
CIA's Sadie Arneson is ranked first in the state in the 100 and fourth in the 200. Megan Bauder is ranked second in the 400 and third in the 100 hurdles. Arneson and Bauder, along with Lauren Bauder and Cara Davidson, make up the third-ranked 400 relay team. Lauren Bauder is also ranked sixth in the long jump.
On the boys side, Josh Holly is currently ranked fifth in the 800 in the state. He's also ranked seventh in the 1,600 and sixth in the 3,200.
Brianna Goins is tied for fourth in the state in the high jump. She's also ranked eighth in the triple jump. On the boys side, Dillon Covey is ranked fourth in the 110 hurdles. Jack Wheeler is tied for sixth in the high jump.
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