The Homer High School track was abuzz last weekend with teams from around the state as the Mariners track and field team hosted their first and only home meet of the season. Twelve schools from around the state participated in the Homer Invitational.
With ideal weather conditions, the Kenai Central girls won a second-straight team title with 130 total points, 31 better than runner-up Soldotna. The Kardinals won their home invite last week as well. Kenai rode the strength of four event victories to the team win.
“We’ve got a (Division I) runner and a couple (Division II) runners, and that makes a difference,” said Kenai Coach Chris Hanson. “We also had some younger runners scoring well.”
The Homer girls finished fifth in the team standings, Cook Inlet Academy took ninth, Nikiski placed 10th and Ninilchik took 11th.
On the boys side, Kodiak took the team crown with 138 points on the strength of six event wins, and were 16 points better than second-place Kenai. Soldotna finished third with 73 points. Nikiski finished eighth with 12 points.
Hosting a meet is a lot of hard work, but Head Coach Bill Steyer couldn’t have been more pleased with the weekend. “It wasn’t only coaching, but coordinating and making sure things ran smoothly, and the meet itself went terrific,” said Steyer.
A lot of credit for that goes to the parents and members of the community who volunteered during the event. In addition to the parents of the athletes, many members of the Kachemak Bay Running Club and others from the Homer running community came out to help with the meet.
“One of the things that we’re known for is our hospitality for our coaches and meet officials. It was a huge success because of the support that we had,” he said.
The team hospitality wasn’t the only thing that made an impression last weekend. Many athletes succeed in recording personal bests during the meet, which also included the final senior appreciation event for seniors that will be graduating in a few short weeks.
Jordan Beachy, freshman, had a personal best time of 4:53.43 in the 1 mile, placing him eighth out of 33 athletes. This is a significant increase from his last performance during the Kenai Invitational, where he ran the 1600 meter event — 9 meters shorter than the 1 mile—with a time of 5:01.77.
Ian Lowe also recorded a personal best during the home meet last weekend, throwing 29-08.50 in the 12-pound shot put event.
Other notable performances include Lauren Evarts placing first in the 100-meter hurdles and Denver Waclawski running 5:00 flat in the 1 mile. Cheyenne Gillette also came through with a good performance in the long jump, with a jump of 14-05.00 and placed 8th out of 30 competitors.
The girls’ 4×400 meter relay team placed second out of six teams with a time of 4:26.25a.
This home meet was also a chance for the team to recognize the hard work each senior has put into track during his or her time at Homer High School. Crystal Crane, Jullian Richburg, John Shank, Ian Lowe and Connor Seay were recognized during the meet with flowers and a special presentation for their multi-year involvement with the track team.
With sunny weather and several great performances to go around, it seems the majority of people that attended the Homer Invitational went home satisfied.
“That’s thanks to all the volunteers that came out and put in a stellar performance,” said Steyer. “It really went exceptionally well.”
On Friday, the Mariners Track and Field team head to Palmer for the Colony Invitational, followed by the Kenai Peninsula Borough Championship on May 16 in Kenai.
Aryn Young is a freelance writer for the Homer News. Peninsula Clarion reporter Joey Klecka contributed to this story.