Small teams, small towns come up big at state track

Beth Bragg

Kaleb Korta wore his cross country singlet to the state track and field championships Friday at Dimond High.

That's because Galena has a cross country team, but not a track team.

Heck, Galena doesn't even have a track. Which is why a police officer recently tried to chase Korta off the runway at Galena's airport, the place Korta goes to run circles around Bush planes.

"Otherwise I'd be running on gravel," Korta said.

Friday, Korta ran circles -- well, almost -- around the competition in the Class 1-2-3A boys 3,200 meter race to become Galena's first state champion in track and field.

The school doesn't get to claim credit for the championship though, because the school doesn't supply funding or coaching for Korta.

"My family pays," he said.

Jon Korta serves as his son's coach -- and troubleshooter. Jon was at the airport, holding a stopwatch, the day when the city's new police officer approached in his patrol car, siren blaring, while Kaleb was running intervals in the middle of the runway.

Jon is Galena's interim mayor, so he successfully intervened on his Kaleb's behalf.

"My dad talked the cop out of it and he let me run there for another week," Kaleb said. "The pilots don't care."

Korta isn't Alaska's first one-person team to make an impact at a state championship meet. Glennallen's Christy Virgin was a team of one when she won the Class 1-2-3A state cross country individual championship in 1997, and there are other small-town Alaskans who have made it big without the support of teammates.

And then there are the small towns that boast state champions even though they don't have a high school.

Laura Kromrey of Moose Pass, who attends high school 30 miles away in Seward, captured the 1-2-3A girls discus championship with a throw of 99 feet, 9 inches. Moose Pass has a K-6 school, but for seventh grade and beyond, kids head down the highway to Seward.

Kromey said it's hard to practice on her own in Moose Pass. Other than a little soccer field, there's really not a place suitable to hurl a heavy object 100 feet, she said.

Even so, Kromrey tries to get in extra practice time away from school. There's a little dirt road with lots of potholes in her neighborhood that she uses to practice her release.

"I try not to throw it very far," she said, because she has to go retrieve it once she throws it.

The road doesn't get much traffic, Kromrey said, so people in vehicles don't need to worry about a discus sailing through their windshield. But people hiking nearby have cause to be wary of the occasional errant discus.

"I've lost several of them in the woods," she said.

Seward's middle school and high school have about three or four kids per grade from Moose Pass, Kromrey said, and at least two of them have delivered state championships to Seward. Miles Knotek won the 2011 small-school cross country title for the Seahawks.

Squeeze play

Versatility ain't what it's cracked up to be. At least not this week at the state track and field championships.

A late-running high jump competition created headaches for Anchorage Christian's Austin Monzon and West's Leroy Elliott on Friday. Both had to put their high jumping on hold to run races, and both had to resume jumping almost immediately after they stopped running.

Monzon, competing in the Class 1-2-3A meet, had mere minutes between his 3,200 race and his second and third attempts at clearing 5 feet, 8 inches. He had no spring left in his legs and missed both times.

"Your legs are dead," he said. "It's two miles going as hard as you can. It threw me off mentally also."

Monzon placed seventh in the 3,200 and fifth in the high jump.

Elliott's double duty came a bit later, during the Class 4A high jump. He was one of three jumpers to clear 6-2, but then he had to dash off for his preliminary race in the 110 hurdles. West coach Travis Cantrell told officials that Elliott would pass on 6-3.

Lathrop's Jaren Welch and Bartlett's Bryce Hellman both cleared 6-3. The bar was raised to 6-4 and again they both cleared it. Hellman, a sophomore whose PR coming into the meet was 6-2, went out at 6-5, but Welch succeeded on his third attempt to establish his own PR. Welch had taken his first attempt at 6-6 -- a miss -- when Elliott finally returned.

At first, officials told Elliott he had to resume at 6-5. Cantrell objected, noting that Elliott had only passed at 6-3, and should be allowed to resume at 6-4. The rulebook agreed, the bar was lowered to 6-4, and Elliott missed all three attempts.

"I've never had back-to-back events like that before," Elliott said. "My legs are really sore.

"It's definitely a weird feeling. It made me realize no matter what the challenge, just do my best."

The day turned out pretty good for Elliott. He won the triple jump, placed third in the high jump, had the top qualifying time in the 110 hurdles -- his time of 14.78 seconds gives him hope that he can challenge the state record of 14.61 in Saturday's finals -- and the fourth fastest qualifying time in the 300 hurdles.

Welch, whose attempt to jump 6-6 was put on hold for several minutes while Elliott tried to play catchup, did OK too. He sailed over the bar on his second try to set a school record at 6-6 before missing all three tries at 6-7.

"It's a great feeling," Welch said. "I've wanted a state title since I was in seventh grade."

Taking note of what happened with Elliott and Monzon was ACS coach Shelly Simmers, the mother of one of Alaska's most decorated high school athletes.

Her son Nate won Friday's 1-2-3A triple jump, but even before that happened, mom was thinking about Saturday, when Nate will compete in the long jump beginning at 9 a.m. and the discus beginning at 9:15 a.m. Both events take a lot of time and require multiple efforts, so Nate will be going back and forth between the two events for quite some time.

That's a problem at Dimond, where the long jump pit is at the east end of the track and the discus is a couple hundred yards away, beyond the west end of the track and beyond the outdoor ice rink, in a small field near some temporary classrooms.

But Shelly Simmers has a plan for making sure Nate doesn't miss any jumps or throws and doesn't get too tired going back and forth.

"We're gonna bring a bicycle so he can bike between them," she said.

Reach Beth Bragg at bbragg@adn.com or 257-4335.

ASAA/1st National Bank state track and field championships

Dimond High

Class 1-2-3A

Girls

Team scores -- 1) Glennallen 20; 1) Grace Christian 20; 3) Anchorage Christian 19; 4) Petersburg 18; 5) Homer 14; 6) Su Valley 13; 6) Seward 13; 8) Hutchison 10; 9) Thorne Bay 8; 10) Cook Inlet Academy 4; 10) Sitka 4; 10) Monroe 4; 13) Delta 2; 13) Valdez 2; 13) Holy Rosary Academy 2; 16) Yakutat 1.

3200 -- 1) Briahna Gerlach, Glennallen, 11:14.02; 2) Taylee Nyquist, Thorne Bay, 11:25.93; 3) Molly Mitchell, Homer, 11:42.26; 4) Elizabeth Balsan, ACS, 12:11.82; 5) Grace Walker, Petersburg, 12:28.64; 6) Joshephine Braun, Seward, 12:58.98; 7) Audrey Rosencrans, Homer, 13:02.98; 8) Victoria Joslin, Delta, 13:08.81.

Discus -- 1) Laura Kromrey, Seward, 99-09; 2) Amir Williams, ACS, 94-02; 3) Ashley Logan, Grace, 91-07; 4) Isa Ramil, Sitka, 88-07; 5) Beth Hanson, Delta, 86-09; 6) Pekia Hueton, Su Valley, 84-07; 7) Hailey Olson, ACS, 78-03; 8) Madison Ealum, ACS, 75-10.

High jump -- 1) Lina Heinrichs, Hutchison, 4-10; 2) (tie) Dallas Dickerson, ACS, Ayla Lopez, Su Valley, 4-08; 4) Andi Clark, Monroe, 4-08; 5) Mesa Rohrer, Valdez, 4-06; 6) Bernadette Hartley, Su Valley, 4-04; 7) Gabriella Cagle, Sitka, 4-04.

3200 relay -- 1) Glennallen 9:53.11; 2) Homer 10:10.23; 3) Petersburg 10:59.43; 4) Su Valley 11:13.14; 5) Seward 11:23.99; 6) Delta 11:31.31; 7) Houston 11:37.11; 8) Skagway 11:42.61.

Triple jump -- 1) Izabelle Ith, Petersburg, 34-02.5; 2) Kayla Rowe, Grace, 34-00; 3) Annie VanderWeide, Grace, 32-08.5; 4) Madison Orth, CIA, 32-06; 5) Sarah Lucas, Holy Rosary Academy, 31-07.5; 6) Kasia Adams, Yakutat, 31-05.75; 7) Hayley Ramsell, Skyview, 31-02.25; 8) Beth Hanson, Delta, 30-10.

Boys

Team scores --1) Anchorage Christian 28; 2) Grace Christian 22; 3) Seward 18; 4) Nikiski 15; 5) Galena 10; 5) Skyview 10; 5) Tri-Valley 10; 8) Cook Inlet Academy 8; 8) Houston 8; 10) Monroe 7; 10) Valdez 7; 12) Haines 4; 13) Homer 2; 13) Sitka 2; 13) Skagway 2; 16) Petersburg 1.

3200 -- 1) Kaleb Korta, Glennallen, 9:44.58; 2) Daniel Serventi, Grace, 9:59.07; 3) Zach Young, Grace, 10:10.07; 4) Keaton Evans, ACS, 10:11.72; 5) Pedro Ochoa, Homer, 10:24.67; 6) Ethan Goebel, Skagway, 10:37.02; 7) Austin Monzon, ACS, 10:40.06; 8) Daniel Tatarenko, Delta, 10:50.95.

Shot put -- 1) Liam Juhl, Tri-Valley, 46-04; 2) Zach Taplin, CIA, 43-07.5; 3) Howie Hubbard, Seward, 43-06; 4) Luke Johnson, Nikiski, 40-10; 5) Brian Peters, ACS, 38-04; 6) Asa Quimby, Nikiski, 38-03.5; 7) Conor O'Kelley, Monroe, 36-08; 8) Adam O'Guinn, Soldotna, 36-06.

3200 relay -- 1) Skyview 8:37.06; 2) Grace 8:39.43; 3) ACS 8:44.03; 4) Seward 9:05.71; 5) Sitka 9:18.40; 6) Monroe 9:28.87; 7) Skagway 9:40.14.

High jump -- 1) Seth Carsons, Nikiski, 6-03; 2) (tie) Patrick Stanton, Valdez, Lucas Button, Monroe, 5-08; 4) Devin Light, Haines, 5-06; 5) Austin Monzon, ACS, 5-06; 6) Billy Ware, Petersburg, 5-04; 7) Kyle White, Eielson, 5-04; 8) Dustin Drover, Su Valley, 5-04.

Triple jump -- 1) Nate Simmers, ACS, 41-00.5; 2) Matt Barron, Houston, 40-01.25; 3) Zach Martin, Seward, 40-00.75; 4) Uri Simmers, ACS, 38-10.25; 5) Thomas Zweifel, Seward, 37-01; 6) Zach Wassman, Skagway, 36-11.5; 7) Calem Collier, Susan B English, 36-02; 8) Kyle White, Eielson, 35-07.75.

Class 4A

Girls

Team scores --1) Thunder Mountain 18; 1) Kenai 18; 3) Chugiak 17; 4) Colony 11; 4) Wasilla 11; 6) Lathrop 10; 7) Bartlett 7; 8) Ketchikan 6; 8) Eagle River 6; 10) West Valley 5; 11) Kodiak 4; 11) Soldotna 4; 13) East 3; 13) Dimond 3; 15) South 1.

3200 -- 1) Allie Ostrander, Kenai, 10:13.87; 2) Maddie Hall, Thunder Mountain, 11:11.89; 3) Kate Maker, Eagle River, 11:21.37; 4) Olivia Hutchings, Soldotna, 11:24.25; 5) Jenna Difolco, West Valley, 11:27.21; 6) Alex Mathis, Wasilla, 11:30.38; 7) Hannah Brown, South, 11:30.82; 8) Cathelyne Lowers, Colony, 11:49.90.

Discus -- 1) To'a Levi, Lathrop, 123-01; 2) Abby Beck, Kenai, 110-11; 3) Shawna Nelson, Ketchikan, 105-01; 4) Richelle Walker, Kodiak, 104-09; 5) Dakayla Walters, Dimond, 103-04; 6) Megan Burbank, South, 100-10; 7) Jenna Luhrs, Thunder Mountain, 100-06; 8) Kate Benfield, Service, 99-09.

High jump -- 1) Ceil Dunleavy, Wasilla, 5-02; 2) Samantha Cooper, Chugiak, 4-10; 3) Taylir Kueter, Bartlett, 4-10; 4) Jacklyn Jaranik, Colony, 4-10; 5) Allison Gonzales, East, 4-10; 6) Breanna Slater, West Valley, 4-08; 7) (tie) Lindsey Wang, Soldotna, Madeline Ko, West Valley, 4-08.

Triple jump -- 1) Noami Welling, Thunder Mountain, 37-00; 2) Chase Stephens, Colony, 35-08.75; 3) Paige Nelson, Chugiak, 34-00; 4) Kassidy Murfin, Chugiak, 32-08.5; 5) Madeline Ko, West Valley, 32-09.75; 6) Sylvia Evern, Dimond, 32-03; 7) Kayla Clark, South, 31-11.75; 8) Alicia Reitz, Chugiak, 31-11.75.

Boys

Team scores -- 1) Lathrop 26; 2) Kodiak 20; 2) Dimond 20; 4) West 16; 5) Kenai 14; 6) Eagle River 10; 7) Bartlett 8; 8) East 3; 8) Colony 3; 10) West Valley 2; 11) South 1; 11) North Pole 1.

3200 -- 1) Levi Thomet, Kodiak, 9:31.59; 2) Jordan Theisen, Kenai, 9:37.52; 3) Jonah Theisen, Kenai, 9:38.00; 4) Christopher Lokanin, Dimond, 9:42.22; 5) Erich Hoefler, West Valley, 9:52.48; 6) Derek Steele, South, 9:56.49; 7) Riley Moser, Juneau, 10:06.42; 8) Spencer Milton, South, 10:07.27.

High jump -- 1) Jared Welch, Lathrop, 6-06; 2) Bryce Hellman, Bartlett, 6-04; 3) Leroy Elliott, West, 6-02; 4) Cameron Bryant, Lathrop, 5-10; 5) CJ Parker, Dimond, 5-10; 6) Shane Hursh, North Pole, 5-10; 7) Brandon Nicholson, Colony, 5-08; 8) Michael Davis, East, 5-06.

Triple jump -- 1) Leroy Elliott, West, 42-10; 2) Kade Bullard, Dimond, 42-06.25; 3) David Schaffer, Dimond, 42-05.75; 4) Jared Welch, Lathrop, 42-00.25; 5) Michael Davis, East, 41-11.75; 6) Lucas Jones, Colony, 41-06.5; 7) Devin Millington, Lathrop, 40-09; 8) Preston Weeks, Soldotna, 40-03.75.

Unified

Shot put -- 1) Thorne Bay (Andi Griggs, Tayjha Tripple), 46-09.5; 2) Soldotna (Jamie Topp, Annie Quinn), 39-11; 3) Dimond (Lauralie Bline, Jenny Wilcox), 33-02.

 


By BETH BRAGG
bbragg@adn.com