Hulien is 'Dawgged in pursuit of excellence

Posted: Tuesday, May 15, 2001

As far as Nikiski senior Inger Hulien is concerned, anything worth doing is worth doing right.

"I think that's her natural personality," said Kari Hulien, Inger's mother. "She wants to be busy, involved and do the best in whatever she pursues."

That personality trait has surfaced in Hulien's involvement with track and field, academics, student council, National Honors Society and her youth church group.

Hulien placed fourth in the state in the discus last year, but Nikiski track coach Jim Arness said it wasn't natural ability that put her there.

"A number of kids were actually better than her as a freshman, not just at this school, but at other borough schools," Arness said. "But she never wavered and she never quit on it.

"She's one of those kids that always wanted to learn and do better. She was that way when she first started, and she's still that way. She's moved up through the discus group of kids to the point where she is now."

Inger Hulien

In sports

Took fourth place at the state track and field meet last year in the discus.

Heading into last weekend, was third on the state track and field honor roll in the discus this season.

Was a manager for the state-champion football team this season.

Out of sports

Carries a 3.98 grade point average, which means she will be the salutatorian.

Was junior class president last year.

Has been to the Dominican Republic twice on mission trips with her church.

The passion Hulien has for doing preparation the right way showed last year when, as usual, Alaska's "spring" weather wasn't cooperating with track and field athletes.

"One day it was snowing here at practice, and I told them we were staying inside that day," Arness said. "Inger said we needed to go outside and throw, because it very well could be like that at a meet, so we need to practice in it.

"She actually wanted to go out and practice in the snow."

Hulien started the discus in seventh grade, in part because she said throwing a discus didn't look that hard.

"I really don't know why I liked it," Hulien said. "I thought it looked pretty easy, but it's not easy.

"A lot of little things have to come together at one time in the discus. And if just one of those things goes wrong, it completely messes you up."

It took Hulien until her junior year to feel she was finally starting to get the hang of throwing the discus. She set a personal best of 111 feet, 4 inches, at the Region III meet last year en route to getting fourth at state.

This year, Hulien has picked up where she left off. She matched her personal best to win the Homer Invitational on May 5. As of late last week, her toss was the third best in the state.

"I'm really excited," Hulien said. "I've been able to throw that far in practice, but being able to throw it in a meet has been hard.

"Reaching my (personal record) before boroughs makes me hope I can go farther."

Hulien said she'd like to throw 116 feet and break the school record of 115-8 held by Rebecca Arness, who is the daughter of coach Arness. Arness and Hulien are friends because Hulien was a freshman at Nikiski when Arness was a senior.

"Rebecca has always been supportive of her," coach Arness said. "They kid about it back and forth, but I know if Inger does break it, Rebecca will be the first one to congratulate her."

Hulien also puts considerable energy into the youth group at Kenai Christian Church. She spends Sunday mornings, Sunday evenings and Wednesday evenings with the group, plus she went on two-week mission trips to the Dominican Republic with the church in 1998 and 2000.

"That made me appreciate what I have," said Hulien, who also has been to Norway. "It's amazing how they can be so happy when they don't have any possessions.

"It wasn't too hard to believe, but it was pretty awesome to see it."

Last year, Hulien also served as the junior class president at Nikiski. In typical fashion, she threw herself into the position, spending a bunch of time over the second half of the school year organizing prom.

"It took a lot more work than I thought to get everything together," said Hulien, who also served as a manager for the state-champion football team this year. "It went pretty well, though. I think everybody had a good time."

Finally, Hulien has found time to succeed in the classroom, posting a 3.98 grade point average and getting salutatorian honors.

She plans to attend Manhattan Christian College in Kansas and take courses in nutrition, food science and business. The college has a setup that allows students to also take courses at Kansas State University.

"She's always had that interest in nutrition," said Kari Hulien, whose husband's name is Claude. "I remember in elementary school she had to do a paper on it and it's interested her ever since that."

Hulien's mother also pointed out that the college allows Hulien to be close to family and to go see Kansas City Chiefs football games.

"She's just the type of kid that proves through hard work and dedication, you can accomplish a lot more than you think you can," Arness said.

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