The way Ninilchik coach Bernie Clark sees it, the Region II Track and Field Championships are finally on the right track.
The Region II meet, which includes small schools from around the state and peninsula schools Seldovia, Cook Inlet Academy and Ninilchik, will be hosted by Ninilchik at Skyview High School Friday and Saturday.
Normally, the Region II meet is held at Susitna Valley and its cement track. Skyview's synthetic track is a better place to hold a meet because athletes can wear metal spikes on a synthetic track, while athletes can't wear metal spikes on a cement track.
"The recommended shoe for a cement track is soft spikes rather than metal spikes," Clark said. "You lose that take off and acceleration you have with metal spikes."
Relay teams and individuals can qualify for state by placing first in the region meet. But after that, qualifications are based on how times stack up against region meets elsewhere in the state. Having the meet at Skyview should put Region II on more of an even footing.
"It's hard for us to host a meet so far from home," Clark said. "The people from Skyview have been the nicest people to work with. I can't thank them enough."
Clark is hoping to repay the favor by training some volunteers for the meet that will be able to help out at future track meets on the peninsula.
"We're always showing up at the big peninsula meets, but we never bring volunteers," Clark said. "Now, we'll have people qualified to work at those meets."
The teams at the Region II meet will be a mixed bag, with the teams ranging in size from one athlete to almost 30 athletes.
"Heritage and Su Valley have won the boys and girls side as long as I can remember, primarily because they always come in with bigger numbers," Clark said, adding that he thinks Heritage Christian is the favorite on both sides this year.
The Ninilchik girls have been third two years in a row. This year, the Wolverines will look for big points from senior Molly Bosick, the defending state champion at 400 meters.
Bosick will run the 100, 200 and 400.
She also will join some combination of Whitney Leman, Melissa Deiman, Amanda Matson and Katie Moerlein to make a solid 1,600 relay team.
Clark also is hoping for big things from Matson in the 300 hurdles, Kelsey Deiman in the discus and Leman in the high jump.
On the boys side for Ninilchik, Vincent Kruzick and John Matson will be two key members of a 400 relay team that should be in contention for a state berth. Jason Schollenberg also is a solid threat in the 300 hurdles.
Over at Cook Inlet Academy, coach Noah Shields also is excited about competing on Skyview's track.
"Since we practice there, it's a home-court advantage in a way," Shields said. "We should be a lot more confident running there."
The Eagles girls will be led by junior Shannon Powers, who placed fourth in the state last year in the discus.
On the boys side, CIA should get solid performances from freshman Brian Beeson in the 1,600 and 3,200, and freshman Andy Hall in the 400.
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