Sitka schools look at drug testing for athletes

Posted: Wednesday, June 14, 2000

The Sitka School Board on June 6 moved one step closer to random drug and alcohol testing for student athletes.

If adopted, the policy would be the first of its kind in the state.

``We're in somewhat uncharted water here,'' said school district superintendent John Holst, adding that a similar policy implemented by an Oregon school district was contested in court.

``It went all the way to the Supreme Court, where it won,'' he said. ``They were able to show that the community had a real drug problem.''

Holst said initially the board's plan was to have random drug and alcohol testing for students involved in all extracurricular activities.

``(The school district's) attorney has singled out athletics because we're on much stronger legal ground,'' Holst said. ``Athletics have inherent dangers that are worsened while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.''

But, Holst said, the board might expand the policy if state law changed to support the district.

Not everyone at the meeting thought it was a good idea to single out the athletes.

``I don't think that if you want positive student participation, you can single out the athletes,'' said Therese Horan, student representative to the board. ``There are kids traveling representing our school for all kinds of things. If you limit it to athletes, it's not going to fly. The kids are going to want it to be as fair as it possibly can be.''

While other board members seemed sympathetic to Horan's concerns, Holst said the district would be on shaky legal grounds testing participants in non-athletic extracurricular activities.

``Our attorney has never led us astray, and I'm going to hang my hat on the legal opinion of our attorney,'' he said.

Sitka already has a policy stating that any student can be asked to submit to testing if reasonable suspicion of drug use is found.

The board voted in favor of the new policy in its first reading, but Horan (an honorary member whose vote is not officially recorded) voted against the testing because it was confined to athletes. A special meeting has been set for July 18 to discuss the policy.

Chris BernardThe Daily Sitka Sentinel

Baggen bags derby crown

Vicki Baggen held on to win the 45th Annual Sitka Sportsman's Association Salmon Derby with a 48.1-pound king caught Memorial Day weekend near Vitskari Rocks.

That fish, which Baggen said she caught with her ``secret weapon,'' earned her roundtrip tickets for two anywhere Alaska Airlines flies and $5,000 cash.

When the derby wrapped up June 4, Debby Puckett and her 46.9-pound king owned second place, worth a new 9.9-horsepower Yamaha outboard motor and $350 credit toward marine fuel. Third place - a claim staked with a 46.0-pound fish - belonged to Angela Ketah, who won $1,500 cash.

The remaining top five finishers were John Roberts and Eric Olsen, with 43.9- and 43.6pound fish respectively. Roberts also took home the $1,000 prize for total weight, with 168.4 pounds of salmon entered during the five-day derby.

Chris BernardThe Daily Sitka Sentinel

Changes for Sitka football

Football in Sitka will see some new competition this year, as the Sitka-Edgecumbe Football League Storm becomes the Sitka High School Wolves.

The Sitka School Board approved a motion at its June 6 meeting to allow the local team to be connected to the school in name only, giving the team no funding from the budget but allowing it to play against other high schools under Alaska School Activities Association regulations.

The local football program was started five years ago as a club-type league, but with the goal of eventually becoming the high school team. Sitka coach Mark Mangini said the football program had outgrown the club-team format after winning the last three area championships.

Sitka's high school team will compete in the Greatland Conference, pitting the Class 4A team against Class 3A teams from Seward, Houston, Anchorage Christian Schools, Glennallen and Nikiski.

The agreement between the SEFL and the high school will not allow Mount Edgecumbe students to be on the team, because including any players from a second school would move the Sitka team to a bracket with much larger schools, such as Juneau-Douglas and Anchorage. SEFL president Leo Evans said the program will try to find a way to accommodate Mount Edgecumbe players, but they will not be allowed to play on the Sitka High team this year.

Football practice starts July 31, and players need to have 10 practices in before they can play in a game. The Wolves open their season against Seward at home on Aug. 12.

Ben MurrayThe Daily Sitka Sentinel

Smith, Merrill win triathlon

Dominating performances by two Sitka athletes were the highlights of the 16th Annual Julie Hughes Memorial Triathlon on May 20, as Gary Smith and Karen Merrill ran, biked and swam their ways to respective victories.

Graced by good weather, Smith individually beat the fastest men's relay team by almost nine minutes, posting a time of 1 hour, 8 minutes, 52 seconds for the course at Sheldon Jackson College in Sitka.

Merrill cruised to her finish nearly 12 minutes ahead of the women's second-place finisher, posting a time of 1:30:34. Merrill gave birth 11 weeks before the race and she said she wasn't sure she was going to be ready to compete.

The triathlon drew 115 athletes, most competing as part of three-person relay teams. The fastest relay team was the trio of John Hedden, Brent Peters and Guy Simmons, who posted a time of 1:17:00.

The triathlon has been a Sitka springtime tradition since 1985, when the race began as a memorial to Julie Hughes, who contracted leukemia as a teenager and later died. A percentage of the race proceeds are donated to a local cancer support group.

Ben MurrayThe Daily Sitka Sentinel

Viechnicki wins POW Marathon

Petersburg's Joe Viechnicki became the first winner of the Prince of Wales Island International Marathon between Hollis and Craig on May 26.

Viechnicki, who had never before run a marathon, was the first of nearly 100 participants to cross the finish line, covering the 26.2-mile course from Hollis to Klawock and on to Craig in 3 hours, 23 minutes, 46 seconds. Nancy LeClerc-Davidson of Sitka was the top individual woman, posting a time of 4:10:49.

``I was hoping to take it slow, but I went faster than I wanted at the start and I was pretty hurting at the end. I paid for it later,'' Viechnicki told the Petersburg Pilot.

Viechnicki told the Ketchikan Daily News that he was also aware of the local black bear population, and that might have spurred him on to victory.

``A very large rustling in the bushes around Mile 14 got me moving,'' Viechnicki said.

Most of the about 100 participants competed in relay teams, either as two-person, four-person or eight-person teams. Only eight individuals ran the entire 26.2-mile course as solo competitors. Other individual finishers included Dean Orbison in 4:09:08, Dave Johnson in 4:18:47, Lou Hu in 4:24:42, Bill Altland in 4:33:57, Jean Jackson in 4:34:10 and Samuel Acosta in 5:24:17. Shirley Hughes of Glennallen started the race as part of a fourperson team, but kept on running and completed the course (although only her team's time was available).

Finishing second overall behind Viechnicki was the eight-person team of junior high school runners Corby Weymiller, Spencer Beckman, Mike Demmert, Alexei Gamble, Phillip Pierce, Kelvin Vaughn, Bryan Westfall and Jared Williams, who combined to post a time of 3:26:10. The two-person team of David Pratt and Matt Hottle took third place overall in 3:29:31.

The Petersburg Pilotand Ketchikan Daily News

Linekar takes third in state karate

Maria Linekar of Craig returned from the 27th Annual Alaska Karate Championships May 21 with a third-place finish.

Linekar, 39, traveled to Anchorage to take part in the state championships with more than 150 other competitors at the University of Alaska Anchorage campus. The championships are sanctioned by the USA National Karate Federation, which is a member of the U.S. Olympic Committee.

Linekar actually tied the second-place finisher in the kata - or forms - competition, both with 24.3 points, but Linekar came in third due to a tiebreaker. The winner scored 24.5 points.

At this year's championships, 50 schools representing varying styles of karate were in attendance. Competitors are judged in both kumite (sparring) and kata (forms) events based on their age and belt levels.

This isn't the first trip to the state championships for Linekar, who took first place in 1996. The state championships act as a qualifier for the 2000 nationals, which are July 28-30 in Sacramento, Calif. Linekar is unsure whether she'll make it to nationals, but is considering the trip.

Linekar has been an instructor in an Okinawan style of karate since 1991 and is a member of the Seibukan Karate Association, American Branch. Linekar teaches karate in both Craig and Hollis.

Jerry BlairKetchikan Daily News

Yukon River Quest starts June 21

The Second Annual Yukon River Quest canoe/kayak race will start at 12:15 p.m. (PDT) June 21 in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory.

Competitors in the 700-kilometer (460mile) race will cross Lake Leberge before entering the Yukon River, where they will race to the finish line in Dawson City, Yukon Territory. The race is billed as the longest endurance marathon canoe race in the world.

Each of the solo competitors or two-person teams will be required to load their canoe or kayak during the LeMans-style start to the race. The race, which has a purse of at least $13,000 (U.S. funds), generally takes three to five days.

Last year's race was won by the team of Solomon Carriere of Cumberland, Saskatchewan, and Jim Lokken of Fairbanks, who covered the course in 56 hours, 8 minutes to win $1,750. The only Southeast racers last year were Jeff and Dorothy Brady of Skagway, who took 12th place overall.

As of Wednesday morning, there were several Alaskans entered in this year's race but none from Southeast. The entry deadline was May 31.t

The Whitehorse Daily Star

Billi wins Loped the Loop

Keith Billi posted the fastest time to win the Loped the Loop run May 20 in Petersburg, covering the course in 26 minutes, 51 seconds to just edge runner-up Father Mike Schwarte. Joe Viechnicki took third place overall.

Suzanne Hebert was the first female finisher, posting a time of 31:39. Lorri Shaver took second place, even though she led most of the race, and Rikka Brunner took third among the women.

Sarah Aiken and her mother Susan Harai tied for the victory in the women's walking division, posting a winning time of 54:45. Dave Berg was the fastest male walker. The race had 79 entrants, all on foot except Norwegian visitor Gunnar Tronsmoen who chose to use roller skis on the course. The race was sponsored by the Petersburg Run-Walk Club.

The Petersburg Pilot

Kake Dog Salmon Festival races

Tlingit canoe races, a 6-kilometer run, swimming races, tote races, fish processing races and other events will be among the highlights at Kake's Sixth Annual Dog Salmon Festival on July 22, and the Kake Tribal Corp. is inviting all its chums to the festival.

Participants can take the ferry LeConte to Kake from Juneau, leaving at 4:15 p.m. on July 21 with stops in Hoonah, Tenakee Springs and Angoon. The ferry returns to Juneau at 11:45 a.m. July 23. For more information, contact Kake Tribal Corp. at 785-3221.

Press release

The Juneau Empire's Southeast Sports Roundup is compiled about once or twice a month by sports reporter Charles Bingham from area newspapers and tips from readers. To submit an item for this feature, please fax the information to 1-907-586-3028 or e-mail the info (please do not use attachments) to

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