By McKibben Jackinsky
For the Homer News
The 2017 Region Track and Field Championships drew a crowd of athletes and fans to Homer High School on Friday and Saturday, with six division 4A and eight 3A schools competing.
The Homer girls team was the clear champion of the 3A competition. Their 162 points put them well ahead of second-place Grace Christian at 103 and third-place Anchorage Christian at 72.
“It’s pretty impressive,” said Bill Steyer, Mariner track and field coach. “It’s the first time they’ve won a regional championship.”
Senior Lauren Evarts took first in both the 100- and 300-meter hurdles, earning one word of praise — “outstanding” — from the coach.
“It was a really smooth meet,” said Evarts. “(Steyer) was really nervous about hosting regions, but it turned out pretty well and the weather was great for us.”
The girls scored wins in each of four relays. The team of Cheyenne Gillette, Lauren Evarts, Alia Bales and Kaylee Veldstra took first in the 400-meter event. The 800-meter relay was won by Gillette, Veldstra, Marina Carroll and Evarts.
In the 1,600-meter, it was the combination of Megan Pitzman, Gillette, Evarts and Autumn Daigle that crossed the finish line in first place. The 3,200-meter race was won by Pitzman, Audrey Rosencrans, Lauren Kuhns and Daigle.
Anna Brock won the girls discus throw, Carroll won the title in the girls triple jump and Veldstra raced to first place in the 100-meter dash.
The Homer boys also did themselves proud with a second place finish. Anchorage Christian was first with 120 points and Homer tied with Grace Christian, each team having 98 points. Seward was next with 88.
“The boys are really good. They’re pretty good at the triple jump and really good at the high jump, we don’t have boys that are strong throwers or long jumpers, but our sprinters and distance boys are outstanding,” said Steyer.
The boys team of Jared Brant, Bill Rich, Jacob Davis and Luciano Fasulo claimed a first-place finish in the 3,200-meter relay, while the team of Zane Boyer, Brant, Davis and Fasulo took second place in the 1,600-meter relay. Joel Carroll took the high jump, clearing the bar at 6 feet.
“His first time to hit six feet at this meet,” said Steyer. “He’s one of the best in the state in large and small schools.”
It’s the first time region competition has been held at Homer High School since the previous track’s deteriorating conditions in 2009 made unsafe for school events. The track and field were replaced in 2012.
“My friend Lance (Williamson, a local runner) and I were reflecting on how this was like the culmination of a dream we had of getting the facility here and being able to host really good track and field meets,” said Steyer, adding that hosting such a high level meet was only possible with the help of numerous volunteers.
Homer’s win made it even sweeter for Steyer, who is completing his seventh — and last — year coaching at Homer High. Steyer and his wife, Dr. Judith Steyer, are relocating to Eugene, Oregon. (See related story, page 13.)
“I’m glad the kids did so awesome,” said Steyer. “That’s pretty cool.”
At Region II track and field championships at Su Valley High School near Talkeetna, the Ninilchik boys took ninth in the team standings with five points and the Ninilchik girls finished eighth with 16 points. Ninilchik senior Mikayla Clark finished second in both throwing events, reaching new personal bests in the shot put (28 feet, 5 inches) and discus (82 feet, 1 inch).
McKibben Jackinsky is a freelancer who lives in Homer. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. The Peninsula Clarion also contributed to this story.