Placing first at last year’s state track and field meet may have earned Kenai Central High School senior Levi Sutton more than just a medal and a spot atop the podium.
Sutton received a partial scholarship from the University of Alaska Anchorage, where he signed a national letter of intent on Tuesday to run track and field and cross country for the Seawolves next year.
“I wanted to stay in state. I wanted college to be pretty well paid for and I wanted to have a good, quality team,” he said. “Everything fell into line. I couldn’t have asked for anything better. How everything worked out was just perfect.”
Last spring, Sutton won the 400-meter dash with a time of 51.66 seconds and also anchored the Kardinals’ 1,600-meter relay team to a second-place finish at state.
Kodiak’s Cory Pena also inked a letter of intent with the Seawolves for the 2007-08 campaign.
“We are extremely thrilled to have both Cory and Levi sign with us,” UAA head cross-country and track and field coach Michael Friess said in a press release. “Both are skilled athletes who I anticipate being solid contributors right away next season.”
Sutton also considered Western Washington University, Eastern Oregon University and George Fox University (Oregon), but in the end, his desire to remain in state won out when he signed with his top choice.
Other elements, however, also contributed to his choice such as his comfortable relationship future UAA teammates.
“I like the team a lot. I know a lot of the kids on the team. If I don’t know them personally, I know about them. I have talked to them before through running,” he explained. “I know about half the kids on the team pretty good from over the years of running.”
Three current Seawolves even attended high school with Sutton.
“Amber McGlasson, Mick Boyle and Clifford Cochran I know really well,” he said.
The fact the program is in, what Sutton deemed, its early stages and an indoor facility is being constructed also factored into his decision.
“It’s a really young team. It’s only been around for three years or so before. So it will be fun to be one of the first people, in a sense, to run for UAA. Hopefully, I’ll get some records up.”
That may be a possibility, as Sutton said the UAA school record in the 400 is around 52 seconds. He has already topped that last year in state.
Right now, though, he’s just glad he can stop thinking about college for a while.
“He was pushing me to sign early,” he said of Friess, “which is a good thing. I can’t really sit back, but it is a big ease off looking for colleges because now I can focus on my studies and on running how he wants me to next year.
“I’m really excited to run for him.”
SoHi’s Verhelst makes all-conference
After winning the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin football championship for the 21st time in school history with a 6-1 league record, the Augustana Vikings of Rock Island, Ill., were well represented on the all-conference team.
Junior guard Jon Verhelst, of Soldotna High School, was picked as a first-team all-conference member on offense. Verhelst was the ringleader of an offensive line that paved the way for his running backs to the tune of 261.8 yards per game rushing in 10 games, according to a press release. In CCIW action, the Vikings led the league in rushing with 1,971 yards on 392 attempts in seven games for an average of 281.6 yards per game, nearly 70 yards per game ahead of second place Wheaton’s average of 212.9.
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