The firsts are slowing starting to add up for Thunder Mountain High School and on Saturday the young Falcons claimed an historic track and field team title at the Region V championships on their home turf. It is the first Region V championship in any sport for the Falcons since becoming certified by the Alaska Scholastic Activities Association three years ago.
“I’m hoping this will be the first of many, as we have had, and continue to have fairly young, inexperienced teams at Thunder Mountain,” TMHS coach Scott May said. “Our freshmen who started with us three years ago, will be seniors next year.”
TMHS had 18 boys score points and 16 PRs were set and four school records fell.
The Falcons boys used solid running and jumping events to solidify the accomplishment but the feat was truly a team effort, and the effort ended a 25-year region-winning streak by the JDHS track and field team.
“It was great to see how close the competition was between the three boys 4A teams,” May said. “Going into the final day, it really was anybody’s meet. We have not had close Region Meets like this in many years, as JDHS has always been so dominant in our sport. It was very exciting.”
TMHS school records were set by senior Captain Wilson Suzuki in the 110 Hurdles, Khalil English in the 800 meter run, the 4 x 400 meter relay of James Steeves, Brendan Pietz, Khalil English and Kenny Fox. The 4 x 800 meter Relay consisting of James Steeves, Hugh Watts, Nicolas Wright and Khalil English also set a school record and qualified to advance to the State Championships.
The boys qualified 10 athletes to advance to the State meet this coming weekend: Nick Bursell in the High Jump, Brendan Pietz in the Triple Jump, Khalil English in the 4 x 800 Relay, 800 meter run, and likely the 1600 meter run (as one of the next 10 best times in this event), Joe Ia, Chris Luna Landon Johnson and Jed Salazar in the 4 x 100 Relay, and joining Khalil in the 4 x 800 Relay are James Steeves, Nicolas Wright and Hugh Watts. The Falcons’ girls qualified four athletes to the State Championship Meet this weekend: Maddie Hall, Shayla Reeves, Estie Dawson and Sammy Haight, with Luhrs on the bubble.
“I believe that our depth in the boys team also helped us to achieve the win, as well as great efforts and a great staff,” May said. “Our Coaching staff and community assistance this year has been phenomenal. With TMHS Coach and Physical Education Teacher Tina Lee heading up Jumps, former Yakutat Head Coach Alex Souza heading up sprints & High Jump, and veteran coach and physical education teacher Jim Kearns heading up Throws, we have a very talented staff. But what really made the difference this year, was the support of volunteers such as Personal Trainer and certified Coach Brian Gwaltney, Throwing expert Lorna Wilson, Hurdles expert Kari Tupou and accomplished sprinter DWayne Duskin all assisting in key event areas, allowing us to individualize and focus on very specific technique training, injury prevention, and effective workouts.”
As well as the Falcons did they could not stop the running wizardry of JDHS senior Jesse Miller.
With wins in the 100-meter, 400-meter and the long jump, Miller was awarded the Region V Championships Outstanding Male Athlete Of The Meet by attending coaches and officials. Miller also opted to not run in his specialty, the 200-meter, and helped the boy’s 4x200 relay win the title.
“It is only logical he is also our choice for the JD boy’s athlete of the meet as well,” JDHS coach Janette Gagnon said. “He is not just a great athlete and teammate, but a very unselfish person as well.”
JDHS will be taking 12 girls and seven boys to State Meet next weekend at Fairbanks. Crimson Bears girls heading to state are Pelle Arthur, Caitlin Bossio, Jean Cumlat, T-Jae Garcia, Zoe George, Arianna Hintermeister, Karissa Jackson, Gina Kim, Sarah McDermott, Martina Miller, Esra Siddeek and Claressa Ullmayer. Crimson Bears boys heading to state are Ian Andrews, David Francis, Kiko Iona, Jesse Miller, Joel Perry, Jaden Sierra, and Monico Yadao.
The JDHS girls notched the school’s 28th team title with 72 points (TMHS 45, Ketchikan 35).
Led by Jean Cumlat, the JD Female Athlete of the Meet, and hurdles captain Karissa Jackson the Crimson Bears had their highest margin of victory for the season.
Cumlat won the triple jump with a PR just one inch shy of 30-feet.
“Instead of dwelling on the missed milestone Jean Bean The Jumping Machine said at least she would get to try again next week,” Gagnon said. “And then she went over to congratulate other jumpers. Jean is an amazing captain for the team and keeps her relay team members ready and pumped for their events, is a joy to everyone at the jumping events and is always asking teammates how they did and congratulating them on PRs.”
Jackson won both the 100 and 300-meter hurdles and ran a superb anchor leg in the 4x400 relay to secure the win.
“Karissa often gives up workout time to assist new hurdlers in learning the craft,” Gagnon said. “That helps the team for this year and in the future. Our coaches are very proud of the girls for the teamwork displayed while working together to win their title. Many girls worked hard to learn new events to give the team the depth they needed in multiple events this weekend. We also had alternates ready for each relay, just in case the were needed by their team.”
Gagnon also mentioned the accomplishment of senior Warren Eckland who took seconds in the shot put and discus.
“He is one of those guys who comes out as a senior,” Gagnon said. “And we are all wishing he would have tried this sport as a freshman. The boys team showed equal determination, however, couldn’t overcome a missed handoff, a couple of sick teammates and missed performances in a couple of the field events. Despite all of this the boys worked hard to the very end, trying to clinch a few more state berths.”
Gagnon also congratulated the TMHS boy’s team.
“I know they worked hard,” Gagnon said. “They showed great depth and deserve this impressive win. We wish them the best at state.”
For the TMHS girls, 12 of their 13 athletes scored points, with 10 PRs and 3 school records. Among them was Jenna Luhrs discus throw of 97 feet seven inches with a fever, after which she returned home to bed. The throw is on the state bubble. The Falcons 4 x 400-meter Relay of Ashlynn Kay, Sammy Haight, Estie Dawson, and Maddie Hall broke the TMHS relay record by 2 seconds.
In the 4 x 800 relay, Estie Dawson, Katie Jones, Danielle Steinman and Ashlynn Kay broke the school record by 12 seconds.
Falcons’ coaches named freshmen Maddie Hall and Landon Johnson as the TMHS athletes of the meet. Hall for a combination of sportsmanship, attitude, effort, and results. Maddie won the 3200, 1600, was 3rd in the 800 and was on the Falcons’ school record breaking 4 x 400 relay. Johnson scored the second highest number of points to Khalil English, and achieved personal records in the 100-meter dash, 200-meter dash and was on the State Qualifying 4 x 100 relay. According to May, Johnson showed great sportsmanship and a positive attitude in his training, and overcame illness this week to put in solid performances.
According to the ASAA website this is the qualification standards for state berths:
4A Individual Running Berths - The top finisher from finals of each region and the next best 12 statewide times.
1A-2A-3A Individual Running Berths - The top finisher from region
finals and the next best 4 statewide times. (Note: Region 1 boys will have an automatic qualifier for HJ, TJ, 400, 1600.)
1A-2A-3A-4A Relay Berths - The top finisher from region finals and the next best 4 statewide times.
The state track and field championships are Friday and Saturday at Fairbanks’ Lathrop High School.