Anchorage eighth-grader dominates stick pull and records fall at 2023 NYO games

High school upperclassmen usually have the upper hand at the annual Native Youth Olympic games. That was the case for most of the events on the second day with the exception of the Eskimo stick pull.

The first-place finisher at the 2023 games was Muhammad Watson of Anchorage. Watson is only an eighth grader but at his size, he towers over most high school kids.

“He did fantastic,” Anchorage coach Jens Hopson said. “He’s only in the eighth grade so that’s a phenomenal thing. The only thing we had to work on was his form and the rest of it he did by himself.”

Watson went undefeated in the event that is more about technique than raw strength, and he proved to have plenty of both.

“He has strength, he has technique, and he has height so all those three things helped him from start to finish,” Hopson said.

According to Hopson, to excel in this particular event, an athlete must ensure that their legs are aligned properly, possess a strong back that is either straight or arched and keep the chin up.

“Once you get those three combos, it’s like deadlifting and once you do that, you can’t be stopped,” Hopson said.


Watson didn’t just run the table, he was a force that looked as inevitable as gravity with the way he pulled his fellow competitors out of their stances and almost completely off the ground in some instances.

“It feels good,” he said. “My coaches told me to stay calm, arch my back, and lean my chin up so I can pull.”

This marked just his second year competing in the games but the first since he was in the fourth grade.

“I did the arm pull in fourth grade and got first place,” Watson said.

He is a multi-racial athlete with Alaska Native, African-American, and Samoan lineage and Hopson credits his parents and peers for motivating him to participate.

“I was interested and wanted to try something different than football or basketball and see how it’d go,” Watson said.

He currently attends Alaska Native Cultural Charter School but will be starting his freshman year at Bettye Davis East high school in the fall where he intends to play football and basketball.

“I think he will be a fantastic athlete on the field because of his size and his strength,” Hopson said. “Those two things will propel him wherever he wants to go.”

Records fall at NYO

The first event of the day saw the previous world record for the scissor broad jump get surpassed twice, thanks to the outstanding performances by NYO star Colton Paul of Mount Edgecumbe and multi-sport star Deshawn Campbell of the Mat-Su A-Team.

The two graduating seniors are now proud holders of first and second place on the all-time record list for the event after Paul initially broke it with his record-setting mark of 38 feet, 7 inches.

“I’m really happy,” he said. “I’ve been waiting this whole year (for a chance to break it). I trained all summer and trained all school year and it worked.”

It marked the third event that he won after taking first in the kneel jump and Alaskan high kick on the first day and would finish second in the one-hand reach and produce a fourth first-place finish in the two-foot high kick with a mark of 101 inches that tied the state record.

Campbell also bested the previous scissor broad jump record with a leap of 37-11 ½ and edged out his younger brother Myles for second place in the two-foot high kick (94 inches to 90). Their sister Mya came in fourth in the scissor broad jump with a mark of 27-2 ½ a day after finishing first in the wrist carry.

Paul wasn’t the only athlete that produced multiple first-place finishes on the second day.

On the girls side, Chickaloon senior Lydia Alverts finished on top of the podium for both scissor broad jump with a mark of 27-11 ¼ and the one-hand reach with a mark of 57 inches.

“I’ve won one-hand in some smaller invitationals but never at the state NYO,” she said. “It’s very exciting”

While she’s been competing in the games since the fifth grade, Alverts has only been doing the one-hand reach for two years and was able to set a new personal best with the winning extension of her arm.


“I’ve been able to hit 54 inches for a couple of years now but could never get 56, and so I managed to get 56 and on top of that I managed to get 57 and then hit 58 but didn’t stick the landing,” she said.

Alverts has come a long way from being “horrible” at the one-hand reach to winning state in the event and encourages others to try new things and just keep working to perfect their craft until it’s a strength.

“I could never do it but I kept practicing so that’s why I tell everyone, ‘You can do it,’ ” she said.

Alverts was initially inspired to start learning and competing in the NYO games while observing the Chickaloon team who happened to be practicing at her elementary school.

“I was always really interested in it and it sounded super cool, unique and fun so I joined” she said. “I was just drawn into it because I love the atmosphere and I love the variation of the events.”

Native Youth Olympics

at Alaska Airlines Center

Kneel Jump



1. Nikki Erick, LKSD, 44′'

2. Caelyn Carter, Mat-Su A, 43 ¾'’

3. Summer Walls, Sand Point, 42 ¼'’

4. Abby Mallette, Interior, 41 ¼'’

5. Leila Kell, Chickaloon, 40 ½'’


1. Colton Paul, Mt. Edgecumbe, 66 ¾'’

2. Davin Malzahn, Interior, 60 ¼'’

3. Nick Amora, Unalaska, 59 ¼'’

4. Damien Nukusuk, LYSD, 58 ¼'’

5. Lebron Walter, LKSD 55 ¼'’

Wrist Carry



1. Mya Campbell, Mat-Su B, 250′ 1 ¼'’

2. Kamryn Petito, Mat-Su A, 235′ 10 ¼'’

3. Myra Penayah, BSSD A 200′ 2 ½'’

4. Dorothy Bad Warrior-Johnson, ANC B, 130′ 3 ‘’

5. Nikki Amora, Unalaska, 110′ 11′'



1. Ethan Jenkin, Dillingham, 560′ 8 ¾'’

2. Nick Amora, Unalaska, 503′ 2′'

3. Tyson Olson, MEHS, 429′ 2 ¼'’

4. Myles Campbell, Mat-Su A, 408′ 7 ¼'’

5. Aidan Crow, Bethel, 393′ 1 ¼'’

Alaskan High Kick


1. Caelyn Carter, Mat-Su A, 70′'

2. Katya Carl, LKSD, 68′' 2m

3. Leila Kell, Chickaloon, 66′' 0m

4. Ourea Busk, BSSD A, 66′' 2m

5. Mya Campbell, Mat-Su B 66′' 4m


1. Colton Paul, MEHS, 92′'

2. Daylon Brown, LKSD, 90′'

3. Alex Covey, ANC A, 90′'

4. Cody Levi, ANC B, 86′'

5. Deshawn Campbell, Mat-Su B 82″

Scissor Broad Jump


1. Lydia Alverts, Chickaloon, 27′ 11 ¼'’

2. Tessa Anderson, MEHS, 27′ 7′'

3. Jade Wren, ANC A, 27′ 3 ¼'’

4. Mya Campbell, Mat-Su A 27′ 2 ½'’

5. Caelyn Carter, Mat-Su B, 27′


1. Colton Paul, MEHS, 38′ 7′' * New World Record

2. Deshawn Campbell, Mat-Su A, 37′ 11 ½'’

3. KC Balbarino, Unalaska, 34′ 1′'

4. Ashton White, LKSD, 33′ 8 ¾'’

5. Awesome Ulroan, Chevak, 33′ 8 ¼'

Eskimo Stick Pull


1. Manusiu Muti, Barrow

2. Kiley Clouse, Dillingham

3. Arianna O’Domin, BBBSD

4. Leila Kell, Chickaloon

5. Taylor Tiedeman, Native Village of Eyak


1. Muhammad Watson, ANC A

2. Calum Hobelt, False Pass

3. Craig Johnson, Barrow

4. Mattias Evans, Nanwalek

5. Ethan Alstrom, St. Mary’s

One-hand Reach


1. Lydia Alverts, Chickaloon, 57′'

2. Destiny Panruk, LKSD 57′' 2m/57′'

3. Kylirose Paniptchuk, Interior, 57′' 2m/56′'

4. Riley Malone, Mat-Su A, 56′' 1m

5. Ava Howard, Yupiit, 56′' 5m


1. Anatoly Fomin, Unalaska, 65′'

2. Colton Paul, MEHS, 64′' 0m

3. Matthew Chagluak, ANC A 64′' 2m

4. Davin Malzahn, Interior, 63′'

5. Graelin Chaney, Dillingham, 62′' 0m

Two-foot High Kick


1. Tessa Anderson, MEHS, 70′' 1m/70′'

2. Jordan Klejka, Bethel, 70′' 4m

3. Lucy Roberts, ANC A, 68′'

4. Charity Gordon, Homer, 66′' 2m

5. Annareese Carroll, Mat-Su B, 66′' 3m/62′' & 62′'


1. Colton Paul, MEHS, 101′'. * Ties State Record

2. Deshawn Campbell, Mat-Su A, 94′'

3. Myles Campbell, Mat-Su B, 90′'

4. Alex Covey, ANC A, 88′'

5. Elijah Gordon, Homer, 86′'

Indian Stick Pull


1. Leah Evans, Homer

2. Lily Clement, Tatitlek

3. Trinity Vlasoff, Tatitlek

4. Samantha Hansen, Mat-Su B

5. Solana Lucas, Mat-Su A


1. Aaron San Luis, Unalaska

2. Sean Moonin, Nanawalek

3. Donovan Stephan-Standifer, MEHS

4. London Walker, ANC A

5. Trevor Frankson, Tikigaq

One-foot High Kick


1. Lydia Alverts, Chickaloon, 90′'

2. Mya Campbell, Mat-Su A, 88′'

3. Tessa Anderson, MEHS, 85′'

4. Daisey Vonblarcom, Knik, 85′' 1m

5. Annareese Carroll, Mat-Su B, 84′'


1. Colton Paul, MEHS, 112′'

2. Elijah Gordon, Homer, 104′'

3. Alex Covey, ANC A, 102′'

4. Jesus Acosta, Unalaska, 100′' 0m

5. Deshawn Campbell, Mat-Su A, 100′' 1m

Seal hop


1. McCrae Mills, Mat-Su A, 141′ 4′'

2. Emilee Wilson, Salamatof, 123′ 6 ½'’

3. Tessa Anderson, MEHS, 123′ 3′'

4. Michelle Atcherian, Chevak, 123′ ½'’

5. Shawna Paul, LKSD, 112′ 2 ¾'’


1. Devon Mann, LKSD, 141′

2. Eldred Paradeza, Unalaska, 104′

3. Colton Paul, MEHS, 102′ 1′'

4. Dominic Tunutmuak, LYSD, 94′

5. Andrew Murray, ANC A, 88′ 2 ¼'’

Josh Reed

Josh Reed is a sports reporter for the Anchorage Daily News. He's a graduate of West High School and the University of North Carolina at Pembroke.