Mariner Crystal Crane takes a running leap during the Kenai Invitational last weekend.-Photo provided

Mariner Crystal Crane takes a running leap during the Kenai Invitational last weekend.-Photo provided

Kards clean up at home invite

It is hard to duplicate the kind of weekend that the Kenai Central track and field team enjoyed Friday and Saturday. The Kardinals romped to a clean sweep of the boys and girls competition at the Kenai Invitational under sunny but breezy skies on their home track at Ed Hollier Field.

The Kenai boys cruised to the team title with 147 total points on the strength of nine event victories. The Kards scored nearly twice as many points as the 75 that Anchorage Christian School and Colony had. Soldotna finished fourth in the standings, Nikiski was eighth, Homer took 10th and Seward took 12th.

The Kenai girls took the team crown with four event wins and 127 points, better than the 79.5 points that Soldotna compiled. Homer placed fifth and Cook Inlet Academy took 22nd.

Overall, Mariner Head Coach Bill Steyer was pleased with all of the Homer athletes’ performances.

“Everybody did great, we’re definitely improving.  Everybody is improving in their throws, and running better times than they did last week,” said Steyer. 

Several Mariners achieved personal best records last weekend. Ralph Mitchell threw a personal best shot put throw with a distance of 31-05.75. Angie Cordoza also came away from the invitational with a personal best record in the 100-meter dash with a time of 14.01a, placing her in sixth place out of 44 athletes.  

The girls’ team had a strong showing during the invitational. Specific athletes that competed particularly well during the event include Aurora Waclawski, who came in third in the 400-meter event and Lauren Everetts, who came in second in the 100-meter hurdles.  

For the boys’ team, the metric mile turned out to be a good event.  Jordan Beachy came in with a time of 5:01.77a and Denver Waclawski ran with a time of 5:12.38a. 

Although it was the girls’ team that came away from the Kenai Invitational with a solid performance, Steyer is also optimistic about the season for the boys’ team.  

“The boys are doing really good, and once we get them situated in their best events, which takes time, I think they’re going to have a really good season,” said Steyer.  

The Mariners will have another chance to strut their stuff this weekend at the first and only home track event this year. Thirteen teams are scheduled to come and participate at the Homer Invite, with events spanning two days. The competition starts at the Homer High School Track at 2 p.m. Friday and continues at 9 a.m. Saturday.

“We’re really looking forward to it,” said Steyer.  “We’ve got a great track and a great facility and we’re really hoping the weather will be good.”  

The Kenai boys relay squads in particular did the most damage, winning every race except the 400-meter sprint relay, in which they finished second.

The age-old question of the “rabbit versus the hare” was given another answer Saturday in the girls 800-meter dash. ACS sprint specialist Tanner Ealum toed the starting line with distance queen Allie Ostrander of Kenai in a race that features a nice blend of raw speed and endurance.

Ealum ultimately prevailed in a race that was decided in the final 100 meters. Ostrander led throughout most of the race, but Ealum shadowed her throughout the first 600 meters. Coming off the final curve onto the front straight, Ealum moved to the outside and outkicked Ostrander to the line by a tenth of a second to win with a current state best of 2:12.88.

“She has me in the speed department,” Ostrander admitted. “If we raced again, I would need to pick it up on the third 200 (meters) because I need to be at almost full speed the whole race in order to build a gap, because I don’t have the speed to hold her off.”

The winning time also gives Ealum a state best in the four fastest events in the state — the 100, 200, 400 and 800 meter races. Ealum’s times in the 200 (24.80 seconds) and 400 (55.81) are also below the state record.

“Way too long for me,” Ealum said about Saturday’s 800.

The ACS junior said she did not have a strategy in mind, but entered the race simply as a way of fine-tuning her endurance.

“I wasn’t in that race to beat Allie,” Ealum said. “This was a race I just wanted to get in, get a time and see where I stand.”

Ostrander was running for a similar cause. After winning the girls 3,200 Friday and the 1,600 Saturday, Ostrander said she was trying to save some energy for the 800, which was preceded by the 1,600. Ostrander won that race in 4:54.51, about five seconds off her state record time.

In the boys distance events, the Theisen brothers produced a clean sweep. Jonah Theisen swept the 800, 1,600 and 3,200 races, with twin brother Jordan finishing right behind him in each one. In the two longer events, Jonah stalked Jordan up until the final lap before making his move. With the wind gusts that were blowing into runners’ faces down the backstraight, the strategy worked well.

“I was drafting my brother and then made my move on the final lap,” Jonah said. “The last lap I gave it my all, but that wind was tough.”

Jonah said he could have run a quicker time in the 1,600, but decided the speed was not as important as simply placing well to gain Kenai valuable points. In the overall season picture, he added that he is shooting for a time near 4:15 in the 1,600 at the end of the season, and a sub-9:20 in the 3,200.

Also among boys, Kenai sophomore Josh Jackman swept the hurdling events, taking the 110-meter race by a whopping 1.76 seconds with a time of 16.26, which pushed him up to sixth among high school boys in the state. Jackman also won the long jump with a leap of 20 feet, 3 inches, and was a part of the winning 1,600-meter relay team.

Madison Orth proved to be another one of the dominant forces of the day, winning the girls 100-meter hurdles (17.15 seconds; 0.65 seconds faster than the field) and long jump (16 feet, 1 inch; seven inches further than anyone else).

Joey Klecka is a reporter for the Peninsula Clarion. Homer freelance writer Aryn Young also contributed to this story.

Homer Invitational

When: Friday and Saturday

Where: Homer High School Track

Who: 13 teams from around the state

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