Dinnan wins Gatorade honor

Juneau runner is first Southeast athlete to claim state's top track award

Posted: Sunday, June 26, 2005

The 2005 track and field season was a wonderful dream for Juneau-Douglas High School junior Tyler Dinnan.

The Crimson Bears won their first state team title, Dinnan set region records in the 800, 1,600 and 4x400-meter relays, and he won the 800 and 1,600 meter races at last month's state track meet in Fairbanks.

This week, Dinnan, who will be a senior next year, found out he won the 2005 Alaska Boys Track and Field Athlete of the Year award from Gatorade and he now is one of the 50 state winners eligible for the top national honor. Senior sprinter Ashley Smith of East Anchorage won the girls award for Alaska.

"Tyler is a hard-working, motivated athlete," Juneau track coach Scott May said in a release from the Gatorade program. "He sets his goals high and achieves them. But above all, he is a wonderful and humble person who consistently demonstrates great sportsmanship in all areas of competition."

In addition to his performance on the track, Dinnan was nominated because of his 3.9 GPA and for his work with several school clubs and music groups.

Dinnan is the first track athlete from Southeast Alaska to win the award, according to the Gatorade Web site. Dinnan joins baseball player Zach Mixson as Gatorade winners from Juneau this year.

But Dinnan said the award could have gone to his twin brother, Wesley, who took third in the 1,600 and second in the 3,200 at state, or to senior Tristan Knutson-Lombardo, who won the 3,200 and took second place in the 1,600. Those three runners pushed each other during the season and made each other better.

"It represents all three of us, and the whole track team," Dinnan said of the award on Saturday. "It's as much Wesley's and Tristan's as it is mine.

"If I didn't have that support, there's no way I'd get what I did. At regions, if Tristan and Wesley aren't there in the 1,600, it's a different race. The same thing was true at state."

Dinnan also is a member of Juneau's two-time defending state champion cross-country running team. He said his top-five individual performance at this year's state cross country meet carried over to the track season.

"I think I had a lot more confidence this year than last year, and a lot of that came from cross country at state," Dinnan said. "I was able to stick with Tristan (who finished second to Chugiak's Jesse Cherry), and that made me more confident. That, and I was stronger. Last year I couldn't run the 800 after running the (metric) mile because I'd be too dead. This year I was able to run a PR (personal record)."

"The thing with Tyler is he really sticks to my program," May said Saturday. "With Tyler, we worked more on speed this year."

May said one key for Dinnan's success was his ability to stay healthy this year. During Dinnan's freshman year, he tried to play soccer and run track and he ended up getting hurt. Last year, Dinnan focused on track but he still got sick.

"He'd not been as healthy the last few years as he is now," May said. "Certainly, Tyler is deserving. Our goal is keeping everyone healthy and injury-free. If he stays healthy, he will have a great cross country season. This is a nice feather in his cap."

"Everything about this track season is a dream," said Dinnan, who thinks the Crimson Bears' state title will help make the program stronger. "And, since a Juneau person got this award it shows that another person from Juneau can win it."

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