It took a strong finish for Ketchikan junior Geoff Nordlund to claim a state title Saturday in the Alaska high school track and field championships in Palmer.
Nordlund devoted much of his training time this season to closing out his races with power, and he needed that extra boost to win the 110-meter high hurdles at the Machetanz Field track at Palmer High School. Nordlund was running neck-and-neck with Trevor Millar of Heritage Christian School in Anchorage, but Nordlund found an overdrive gear with three hurdles left.
The Ketchikan runner finished the race in 15.19 seconds, a personal record, leaving Millar to cross the finish line in second place with a time of 15.40.
``I could see him (Millar) out of the corner of my eye,'' Nordlund told the Anchorage Daily News. ``When I kicked in at the end, I could see him slowly moving back.''
Nordlund was the only state champion this year from Southeast, and the only athlete to finish better than third place in any event.
The Colony boys and the Bartlett girls successfully defended their team championships from last year, with those two programs dominating the team scoring. The Bartlett girls beat runner-up Colony 84-53 and the Colony boys edged Bartlett 74-70 in their half of the meet.
The best Southeast finish was by the Ketchikan boys, who scored 10 points for 17th place. The Haines boys scored six points to tie for 18th place, with the Juneau-Douglas boys in 23rd place with 2.5 points. The Haines girls scored six points to tie for 17th place, while the Petersburg girls scored five points to tie for 19th and Juneau's girls did not score. The Petersburg boys and girls both won the team academic awards with identical 3.92 GPAs, while the East Anchorage boys and West Valley girls won the team sportsmanship awards.
Petersburg junior Amber Beardslee entered the meet as the top seed in the girls high jump, but Christina Watson of Bartlett jumped 5 feet, 3 inches to win the title for the second straight year. Beardslee was one of three jumpers to finish next at 5-2, but she had more misses than the others and took fourth place. Beardslee also took sixth place in the triple jump.
Haines freshman Sarah Lende was among the top seeds in the girls 400 meters, taking third place with a time of 59.84 seconds. Mary Pearce of Dimond won the event in 58.88, with North Pole's Regina Cambilargiu second in 59.09. Lende's time of 59.62 in Friday's preliminaries was a personal record. Lende was the Region V champion in the 800 meters, but she scratched from that event at state so she could focus on the 400.
In the boys meet, Haines picked up a surprise fifth-place finish from John Plucker in the long jump and another fifth in the triple jump. Plucker was also a member of the fifth-place Haines 4x200-meter relay team with Ryan Josephson, Tim Kaloostian and Patrick Katzeek.
Juneau picked up a fifth-place finish from its boys 4x800-meter relay team of Wesley Brooks, Jeremy Carpenter, Corey Denton and Jesse Stringer for the best Crimson Bear finish of the meet. Zach Gaber tied for sixth place in the high jump with a leap of 5-8.
The best Juneau girls finish was seventh place from the girls 4x800-meter relay team of Breea DeSloover, Molly Krehlik, Brandy Weston and Breanne Rohm, but only the top six in each event score points in the team standings. The Juneau girls also picked up seventh-place finishes from the 4x200-meter relay team of Sarah Ballard, DeSloover, Adrian Rodriguez and Emily Krehlik, and from the 4x100-meter relay team of Ballard, Sarah Elliot, Emily Krehlik and Claire Martin.
Juneau's boys 4x100-meter relay team of Ryan Wilson, Carpenter, Gaber and Eric Hull also took seventh place, while Clay Brown took eighth place in the triple jump.
The best individual finish for Sitka, which was held scoreless, was eighth place in the boys 400 meters by Matt Mangini. The Sitka boys and Juneau girls 4x400-meter relay teams both took eighth place.