From the highest of highs to the lowest of lows.
Thunder Mountain’s boys’ 4-x-200-meter relay team had it in the bag. The school’s first state championship in any sport was locked up after a stirring win during the finals Saturday at the ASAA/First National Bank Alaska Track & Field Championships at Lathrop High School in Fairbanks.
“It was a great race and it was close, then our guys started pulling away and led into the final exchange,” TMHS coach Scott May said. “Donald (Stokes) took over and pretty much blew everybody away. We finished in first place by about eight meters and everybody was going crazy, carrying the flag and cheering, ‘State champions!’ And it was a pretty fast time, too.
“And then about 10 minutes later I was called over and notified that we were DQd for an exchange zone infraction.”
An exchange zone violation occurs when the handoff isn’t completed before the runner taking the baton is out of the designated “exchange zone.”
“We were happy as heck, ‘Oh, we’re state champions,’” Stokes said of the initial feeling. “And then we got DQd. That’s when it broke our hearts.”
The Falcons ended up 12th overall with 19 total points, so it was still an impressive performance for the second-year program on the state’s biggest stage.
The 4-x-100 relay, comprised of the same lineup of Alex Tracy, Josh and Ray Jones, and Stokes, bounced back after the stunning disappointment to finish second (44.31) after benefitting from a disqualification.
“I was able to catch three guys because we were in sixth,” Stokes said. “So we had a good two days overall.”
Stokes also tied for fourth in the 200 (23.02).
On Friday, Tracy took second place in the triple jump with a personal record leap of 44 feet, four and 3/4 inches.
Juneau-Douglas’ Emily Sharp also was bitten by bad luck. Sharp was the runner-up in the girls’ 100 hurdles (15.00) for the third straight year after leading the race up until the final hurdle, which she snagged, slowing her long enough to drop her into second behind Bartlett’s Rosie Smith, who set a new state record time (14.82).
“She was leading to the last hurdle but she caught it with her lead leg, causing the hurdle bounce and hit her trail leg,” JDHS coach Janette Gagnon said. “So Rosie was able to pull out in front her. She’s the new champion and the new record holder.”
Sharp was disappointed but took the loss in stride.
“I did as well as I can, and that’s all I can ask for,” she said. “I hit the last hurdle, and I guess that’s OK. I hit it with my lead leg and it bounced back and hit my knee and bruised it. Rosie had a really good race. I guess it just wasn’t meant to be. I could have done better but the last hurdle got me. I guess it was supposed to happen so I’m fine with it.”
Karissa Jackson scored two points for JDHS with a fifth-place finish in the 300 hurdles (49.64).
The Crimson Bears’ girls finished tied for 16th overall with 12 points.
Jesse Miller finished fifth in the boys’ 400, and the Bears finished 20th overall with three points.
The Thunder Mountain girls failed to score any points.
Wasilla ran away with the girls’ championship after scoring 85 total points, followed by Dimond’s 55.5, Lathrop’s 50, and Colony and Bartlett tied for fourth with 45 points each.
Dimond notched a 10-point win on the boys’ side with 74 points, followed by Service’s 64, South’s 46, Palmer’s 40 and Kenai Central’s 36.
Due to space limitations, full results will be on B2 in Monday’s sports section.