Believe it or not, the road to the state track meet for Kenai Peninsula schools Ninilchik and Seldovia goes through Talkeetna.
Both the schools will pass right past Skyview High School, home of Friday and Saturday's Region III meet, en route to Thursday and Friday's Region II meet at Susitna Valley High School.
The reason Ninilchik and Seldovia are in Region II is because they are Class 2A schools, or schools with less than 100 students.
And, as often is the case with high school sports in Alaska, the zaniness doesn't stop there.
First of all, the track is made of concrete.
"Spikes are, in effect, useless," said Ninilchik coach Bernie Clark, who is one person working on bringing the Region II meet to Skyview next year. "You slip around like a hog on ice."
Runners, throwers and jumpers also will get a chilling reminder of how far Alaska is removed from winter.
"There is still snow on the infield of the track," Clark said.
Such factors can hurt Region II's athletes because after the first place finisher in each event, additional qualifiers for the state meet are determined by comparing times throughout the state. Also, region times are used for seeding at state.
One girl who Clark said has a good chance of qualifying despite those factors is Ninilchik junior Molly Bosick. Bosick currently is second on the state honor roll in the 200- and 400-meter dashes. She also is tied for fifth in the 100.
Another Ninilchik competitor who has a chance to be a factor in the meet is junior Melissa Deiman. Deiman has been knocking huge chunks off of her time in the 300 hurdles every time she runs it, and if she keeps it up, she has a chance of winning the race.
Except there's only one problem.
"The Region II meet is a mystery meet," Clark said. "You don't know who's going to show up, and you don't know how good they are.
"You just get down on the track and run. Once the gun goes off, you can't be playing games."
Other Ninilchik girls athletes who are close to qualifying, as far as Clark can tell, are Katie Moerlein in the 1,600 and Brieanna Leman in the shot put.
On the boys side for Ninilchik, senior sprinter Josh Smith will be a factor in the 100, 200 and 400. At last weekend's Kenai Peninsula Borough meet, Smith was third in both the 200 and 400.
"As a senior, he's finally become serious about running," Clark said of Smith. "He's started to do things like stretching and eating a proper diet."
Junior John Matson, who placed fourth in the borough in the long jump, also gives the Wolverines a shot at a qualification.
Seldovia also has some solid athletes in Amelia Dillon (fifth in boroughs in the triple jump), Jeremiah Dillon (fourth in boroughs in the triple jump) and Bryan Chartier (fifth in the borough in the 3,200).
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