Ex-Kodiak runner Dunbar, UAA speedsters just miss 4-minute barrier

April 10, 2010 

Valiant endeavors do not all look alike, and as it happened Saturday on the track at The Dome, a pair of back-to-back races produced supreme efforts that took on vastly different forms.

As a sleek and swift field of elite milers warmed up for the showcase event of the Big C Relays -- an attempt to break the four-minute barrier for the first time in Alaska by an invited group of runners that included legend-in-the-making Trevor Dunbar of Kodiak -- a freshman girl from Service High was completing her own mile-long journey.

Betrayed by her hip flexor in the final 100 yards, KaiLee Barrus hopped and hobbled her way to the finish line, waving off offers of help as she fought back tears. As a large crowd on hand for the invitational mile noticed what was happening, applause and then cheers filled the cavernous Dome.

"When I finally laid down I was hearing, 'Go Service!' and I thought, that's cool -- but ow," a still-horizontal Barrus said later, her head propped up on a teammate's lap and an ice bag on her hip. "It felt like a shock every time I took a step ... When I put pressure on it, it feels like a knife."

Soon after Barrus' excruciating effort came the exhilarating undertaking by Dunbar, Puma-sponsored Nick Lara of Colorado and UAA's fast fleet of Kenyans.

They failed to run a sub-4:00 mile -- an Achilles' tendon injury slowed Lara in the final lap, leaving the door open for UAA's Alfred Kangogo to win in a personal-best time of 4:05.36 that just beat Dunbar's PR of 4:05.77. But they ignited a buzz and excitement seldom seen here for their sport.

"Wasn't it fun to see everybody?" said Michael Friess, the UAA coach who once held the state's marathon record. "If kids don't get excited about track and field after this meet, I don't know what will excite them."

Plenty of kids were excited enough to want mementos. They asked for autographs on their racing flats from Lara, a multiple NCAA champion at Adams State who is now sponsored by Puma. And at least one young woman bared her midriff to get an autograph from Dunbar, an 18-year-old just back from the World Cross Country Championships.

Dunbar was relaxed and clearly having fun as he prepared for his race.

The Big C Relays is a high school event that drew more than 900 athletes from around the state, including Kodiak, where Dunbar began a running career that already ranks as one of the state's all-time bests.

While Lara wore flourescent orange Pumas provided by his sponsor, Dunbar donned a blue Kodiak Bears singlet. As he stretched and jogged, he high-fived one of his old high school teammates who had just finished running a leg in the same relay Barrus was in. Later he headed to the finish line to watch Kodiak win the relay with a sprint finish, and soon it was time for him to step into the spotlight.

Each runner in the invitational mile was introduced, Dunbar to thunderous applause.

"The Puma (representative) said he's like the phenom around here, and that it was gonna be like Rocky IV and (I'm) playing the Russian," said Lara, 25.

Although a pair of mid-distance runners from UAA served as rabbits through the first lap and a half, the attempt to break the four-minute barrier was doomed by a too-slow start -- Lara and Dunbar clocked 2:05 through two laps, at least three seconds slower than the optimum pace.

When it became clear with one lap to go that a sub-4:00 was out of reach -- 3:05 after three laps, with Lara in the lead, Dunbar on his shoulder and Kangago maybe a stride behind -- Lara eased his pace to give his foot a break.

"All the way through it was bugging me, but I wanted to make a good effort," he said. "It's kind of disappointing it didn't happen. Hopefully in the near future someone will do it."

That someone could very well be Dunbar. In fact just about every track geek in the state thinks he'll do it, and probably sooner rather than later.

A sub-4:00 on Saturday by Dunbar would have been remarkable. A freshman at the University of Portland, he had a strong cross-country season and red-shirted for track this spring in part so he could focus on the World Cross Country Championships two weeks ago in Poland, where the distance was eight kilometers, or about five miles.

"Going from a five-mile race to a one-mile race is a little bit different," Dunbar said. "When you train for the 5-K or 10-K you do longer intervals -- mile repeats and 1,000 meters. For the mile it's more like 200, 300, 400 (meter) intervals, where you're getting used to turning your legs really fast."

He said he did mile-specific intervals maybe twice this winter. "It's been a good year since I've done them consistently," he said.

Yet he was strong enough and fit enough to record a personal-best anyway, taking nearly a second off his previous best of 4:06.65. The most impressive thing about Saturday's race was Dunbar and Kangago covered the final two laps in about 2 minutes flat, meaning they ran faster at the end than they did at the beginning.

"I felt comfortable, so I decided to run a fast time, because that's what I came here to do," Dunbar said.

Kangago's time represented a huge PR. The sophomore from Eldoret, Kenya, has a PR of 3:49 in the 1,500 meters -- the distance run at the college level -- and Friess said his time Saturday converted to a 3:47.

"Clearly that was a good run for him," said Friess, who thought Kangago was inspired by the level of competition. "This was the best environment for Alfred. This was a chance to show his talents locally on his home track."

Alaska is one of just a handful of states where a sub-4:00 mile has never been recorded. The closest anyone has come is Marcus Dunbar -- Trevor's dad and a former U.S. indoor mile champion -- who ran a 4:04.12 at the Palmer Relays about 20 years ago.

No Alaskan has broken the barrier Outside either, though Marcus Dunbar came within a heartbeat of one of track's most revered milestones. In the early '90s, he ran a 4:00.58 at a meet in Eugene, Ore.

Seeing someone run a sub-4:00 in Alaska would be huge, he said, but even bigger will be the day when an Alaska-raised runner does it, regardless of whether it happens here or somewhere else.

"It's a big deal to me, because I wanted to do it and never did," he said. "It's one of the most frustrating things of my career.

"Trevor's certainly saying 'I'm gonna run a sub-4,' and I'm fully confident he's going to. But I had full confidence I was going to do it too."

After the race, as people examined split times and buzzed about the fast finish and what might have happened with a quicker second lap, former Palmer High track coach Mike Janecek gave Marcus Dunbar a big grin.

"Daddy's still the king!" Janacek said.

"Not much longer," Dunbar said.


Find Beth Bragg online at adn.com/contact/bbragg or call 257-4309.


Big C Relays

Boys final results

400 -- 1) J.J. Jack-Nixon, Dim. 50.63; 2) David Sollars, Sou., 51.63; 3) Matt Jaronik, Colony, 51.71; 4) John Owolabi, ER, 51.90; 5) Nick Rutecki, Juneau, 52.96; 6) Chaven Davidson, Kodiak, 53.08.

800 -- 1) Hans Roelle, West, 2:00.79; 2) Jeffery DeBrill, East, 2:01.32; 3) Andrew Arnold, Grace, 2:01.88; 4) Joseph Dillon, Grace, 2:03.12; 5) Dane Goodman, Ser., 2:05.89; 6) Billy Kiefer, Kenai, 2:06.92.

3,200 -- 1) Jacob Kirk, Grace, 9:16.4; 2) Silas Talbot, Ser., 9:17.44; 3) Dylan Anthony, Kodiak, 9:30.89; 4) Jani Lane, Ser., 9:52.44; 5) Robert Walgren, Ser., 9:56.55; 6) Brandon Brewster, Sou., 10.00.98.

3,200 relay -- 1) Service (Mamikunian, Talbot, Walgren, Lane), 7:58.08; 2) Grace Christian, 8:26.22; 3) Kodiak, 8:35.74; 4) Nevada Union, 8:46.31; 5) Dimond, 8:47.41; 6) Service, 8:51.16.

High jump -- 1) Tyler Spalding, Kenai, 6-3; 2) Tanner Enloe, Colony, 5-10; 3) Augustus Simmers, ACS, 5-8; 4) Tyler Bennett, Dim., 5-8; 5) Cody Pfeifer, Was., 5-8; 6) Manny Curtis, Was., 5-8.

Long jump -- 1) James McCall, Pal., 20-04.0; 2) Matt Jaronik, Colony, 20-01.5; 3) Emanuel Canady, East, 19-08.0; 4) Anthony Bricker, Colony 18-11.05; 5) Terry Holtman, West, 10-09.75; 6) Greg Groesbeck, North Pole, 18-09.25.

Shot put -- 1) Chavous Levao, Bar., 49-02.0; 2) Mitchell Swensen, Dim., 48-04.5; 3) John Knowles, Was., 46-00.0; 4) David Green, Was., 44-10.0; 5) Justin Kauffman, West., 42-09.0; 6) Kyle Scheibe, Pal., 41-11.75.

100 -- 1) Chenault, Bar., 11.36; 2) Canady, East, 11.50; 3) Scoresb, Pal., 11.51; 4) McCall, Pal., 11.59; 5)Sollars, Sou., 11.60; 6) Sharp, West, 11.85.

100 hurdles -- 1) Bauer, Sou., 15.79; 2) Wilson, Ser., 16.41 3) Corr, Dim., 16.76; 4)Pena, West, 17.29; 5) Brandon, 17.63; 6) Gardner, Pal., 18.15.

300 hurdles -- 1) Bauer, Sou., 42.43; 2)Yates, Bar., 42.58; 3) Day, Pal., 43.40; 4)Pena, West, 43.63; 5) Corr, Dim., 43.87; 6) Oen, Ser., 43.90.

400 relay -- 1) Palmer (Forkne, Clement, McCall, Scores) 45.09; 2) Kodiak, 46.93; 3) Soldotna, 47.26; 4) Service, 47.35; 5)South, 47.52; 6) West, 47.72.

1,600 relay-- 1) Service (Mamikunian, Talbot, Lane, Goodman), 3:29:98; 2) Dimond, 3:33.99; 3) Kodiak, 3:34.72; 4) Nevada Union, 3:39.62; 5) South 3:40.76; 6) East 3:41.36.

1,600 sprint medley relay -- 1) East (Lopez, Nichol, Cox, DeBrill), 3:47.18; 2) Kodiak 3:50.6; 3) Dimond 53.12; 4) Grace Christian 3:53.67; 5) Palmer 3:55.31; 6) Seward 3:57.44.

800 sprint medley relay -- 1) East (Lopez, Nichol, Canady, Holley), 37.99; 2) Palmer 43.15; 3) Bartlett 43.21; 4) Chugiak 32.28; 5) Juneau 43.29; 6) Kodiak 46.42.

Discus -- 1) Swenson, Dim, 153-5; 2) Knowles, Was, 137-3; 3) Clarke, Bart, 131-4; 4) Holtman, West, 124-9; 5) Teeling, Was, 123-3; 6) Tran, East, 116-11.

Girls final results

400-- 1) Lierin Flanagan, Kenai, 57.19; 2) Calynn Stanford, Nevada Union, 59.93; 3) Susan Bick, Bar., 59.99; 4) Jessica Todd, Dim., 1:00.2; 5) Morgan Dampier, Was., 1:00.26; 6) Rosalie Whatley, Nevada Union, 1:00.85.

800-- 1) Ivy O'Guinn, Skyview, 2:19.82; 2) Jaymi Bethea, Kodiak, 2:26.65; 3) Lizzy Bennett, Monroe, 2:27.99; 4) Alison Barnwell, Seward, 2:30.15; 5) Emma Minge, Sou., 2:30.58; 6) Amelia Hennessy, Dim., 2:30.78.

3,200 relay-- 1) South (Kaser, Culver, Kirk, Minge), 10:05.54; 2) Kodiak, 10:20.90; 3) Wasilla, 10:25.10; 4) Grace Christian, 10:33.52; 5) Chugiak, 10:43.00; 6) Service, 10:44.40.

High jump-- 1) Calynn Stanford, Nevada Union, 4-10; 2) Veronica Kudinova, Ser., 4-10; 3) Lida Zakurdaew, Sou., 4-8; 4) Kalene Smith, Pal., 4-08; 5) Scout Warners, ER, 4-06; 5) Keyaira King, Sou., 4-6.

Long jump-- 1) Taylor Hanley, West, 15-8.5; 2) Rosie Smith, Bar., 15-3; 3) Gabriella Serventi, Grace, 15-2.5; 4) Sophia Ruocco-Brown, Nevada Union, 14-09; 5) Laura Maresh, Colony, 14-8.5; 6) Veronika Kudinova, Ser., 14-8.

Shot put-- 1) Shellina Irwin, Colony, 35-5.5; 2) Pauline Tufi, West, 34-4.5; 3) Cheyenne Toney, Nevada Union, 32-8.25; 4) Ashley Grant, Dim., 32-0.5; 5) Monica Nuernberg, Pal., 31-6.75; 6) Erin LaMere, Pal., 31-6.5.

100-- 1) Tillmon, Bar., 12.83; 2) Harris, Was., 13.03; 3) Dampier Was., 13.07; 4) Walker, Bar., 13.18; 5) Ferguso, Ser., 13.20; 6) Little, Bar., 13.43.

100 hurdles-- 1) Engel, Dim., 15.68; 2) Sharp, Juneau, 16.01; 3) Smith, Bar., 16.51; 4) Bassler, Sou., 17.08; 5) Sharp, Juneau, 17.22; 6) Bohn, West, 17.30.

300 hurdles-- 1) Sharp, Juneau, 46.84; 2) Smith, Bar., 46.85; 3) Engel, Dim., 48.17; 4) DeVito, Kenai, 49.69; 5) Bassler, Sou., 49.82; 6) Vaitohi, Dim., 50.13.

400 relay-- 1) Bartlett, (Tillmon, Young, Walker, Little) 50.91, 2) Dimond, 51.52; 3) Service, 51.88 4) East, 53.15; 5) Palmer, 53.58; 6) Bartlett, 53.64.

1,600 relay-- 1) Kenai (Sandahl, DeVito, Beeson, Flanagan), 4:05.92; 2) Dimond 4:07.47; 3) Nevada Union 4:07.73; 4) Grace Christian 4:23.30; 5) Service 4:25.11; 6) Kodiak 4:25.69.

800 sprint medley relay -- 1) Kenai (Hull, DeVito, Beeson, Flanagan), 1:53.74; 2) Nevada Union, 1:55.02; 3) Bartlett, 1:58.63; 4) Cook Inlet 2:03.69; 5) Bartlett 2:04.02; 6) Service 2:04.93.

1,600 sprint medley relay -- 1) Wasilla (Harris, Schleich, Clump, Dampier), 4:20.19; 2) Dimond, 4:27.95; 3) Kenai, 4:33.07; 4) Seward, 4:39.05; 5) Monroe, 4:42.78; 6) Chugiak, 4:49.13.

Discus-- 1) Toney, Nevada, 101-8; 2) Barney, Houston, 100-11; 3) Hickel, 100-0; 4) Tufi, West, 98-4; 5) Dunbar, East, 95-3; 6) French, West, 93-7.

Boys pentathlon

Final Standings-- 1) Karsten Schick, Kodiak 3,480; 2) Brody DeLoria, East, 3,078; 3) Pete Hanks, Heritage, 3,020; 4) Clarence Summers ER, 2,999; 5) Alex Kauffman, Soldotna 2,468; 6) Chase Markel, South 2,352.

100 -- 1) Summers, ER, 11.88; 2) DeLoria, East, 12.06; 3) Schick, Kodiak, 12.21; 4) Hanks, Heritage, 12.71; 5) Markel, Sou., 12.9; 6) Kauffman, Soldotna, 13.06.

High jump -- 1) Schick, Kodiak, 6-02.00; 2) Summers, ER, 5-08.00; 2) Hanks, Heritage, 5-08.00; 4) Brody DeLoria, East, 5-02.00; 5) Kauffman, Soldotna, 5-00.00; 6) Markel, Sou., 4-10.00.

Shot put -- 1) Kauffman, Soldotna, 37-00.00; 2) Markel, Sou., 36-11.00; 3) DeLoria, East, 35-06.25; 4) Schick, Kodiak, 34-06.25; 5) Hanks, Heritage, 32-02.75; 6) Summers, ER, 27-00.5.

800 -- 1) Schick, Kod, 2:03.82; 2) Hanks, Her, 2:06.24; 3) Summers, ER, 2:13.51; 4) DeLoria, East, 2:16.03; 5) Markel, South, 2:29.49; 6) Kauffman, Sol, 2:32.38.

300 hurdles -- 1) Schick, Kod, 42.41; 2) DeLoria, East, 44:83; 3) Hanks, Her, 46.48; 4) Summers, ER, 47.44; 5) Kauffman, Sol, 49.51; 6) Markel, South, 53.43.

Girls pentathlon

Final Standings-- 1) Morgan Kueter, Bar., 3,059; 2) Sarah Cresap, Grace, 2,890; 3) Deven Inch, East, 2,824; 4) Mariah Ulen, Soldotna, 2,794; 5) Cara Wilcox, Dim., 2,706; 6) Anita Winkler, Cantwell, 1,985.

100-- 1) Kueter, Bar., 13.9; 2) Ulen, Soldotna, 13.91; 3) Wilcox, Dim., 14.41; 4) Cresap, Grace, 14.58; 5) Inch, East, 14.68; 6) Winkler, Cantwell, 15.91.

High jump-- 1) Kueter, Bar., 4-10; 2) Ulen, Soldotna, 4-8; 3) Cresap, Grace, 4-4; 3) Winkler, Cantwell, 4-4; 5) Inch, East, 4-0.

Shot put-- 1) Wilcox, Dim., 23-11.5; 2) Inch, East, 23-3.25; 3) Kueter, Bar., 22-11.5; 4) Winkler, Cantwell, 22-8.75; 5) Cresap, Grace, 22-1.25.

800 -- 1) Wilcox, Dim., 26.73; 2) Cresap, Grace, 38.76; 3) Inch, East, 39.88; 4) Ulen, Soldotna, 42.98; 5) Kueter, Bar., 52.66,

300 -- 1) Ulen, Soldotna, 49.73; 2) Wilcox, Dim., 50.03; 3) Kueter, Bar., 51.36; 4) Inch, East, 51.95; 5) Cresap, Grace, 54.03; 6) Winkler, Cantwell, 59.17.

Anchorage Daily News is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service