Saturday was better suited for late-season football than late-season track and field, a chilly, breezy day that made you cringe in empathy anytime you heard an official issue the "sweats off" command at the Cook Inlet Conference track and field championships.
Temperatures were in the 40s and a steady wind blasted runners on the final turn on Dimond High's 400-meter oval. Jumpers asked for, and were granted, permission to compete while wearing sweat pants.
No one was more prepared for the elements than Matthew Ross, a junior at Service High. He stayed warm by wearing a warm, fuzzy bathrobe that belongs to his mother, plus a whole lot more underneath it.
"Seven layers," he said.
A minute or two before he took the track for the 800-meter race, Ross peeled off layer after layer, dropping one item on top of another to form a sizeable heap of polyester, fleece and down.
"That's probably 30 pounds of clothing," he said, and then he described each item in the order in which he wears them over his Service High track singlet.
"This is a T-shirt I won at Dave & Busters," Ross began. "This is a hoodie I bought for $20 on a Chinese website. This is my Borealis Bullseye (riflery team) jacket. This is a Patagonia jacket I got for Christmas last year and I love it. This is my snowboarding jacket — it's waterproof."
And then there is the piece de resistance: a long, fuzzy, pink bathrobe he procured from his mother's closet.
Ross, who finished seventh in the eight-man 800 finals, said if he overdresses while warming up for a race, he stays warm once he sheds all of those layers and starts running. "Today was the perfect temperature," he said.
Not many others would have agreed with that assessment. But even if the weather was chilly, the action was hot.
The Chugiak boys and South girls claimed team titles by knocking off the defending champions.
Chugiak, led by triple-winner Daniel Bausch, earned its first CIC boys championship since 1996 by beating two-time defending champion Bartlett.
South, powered by sprinters Sarah Robinson and Paige Searles, edged two-time defending champion Chugiak by two points to claim its second team title in four years.
Robinson and Searles finished 1-2 in the 100 and the 200 for the Wolverines. Robinson won both races to help South put the team title out of Chugiak's reach going into the final event of the day, the 1,600-meter relay.
The West girls won that relay behind a powerful anchor leg from sophomore Ta'Zhay Wyche. West and Bartlett were neck-and-neck when Wyche took the baton and quickly pulled away to give the Eagles a four-second victory over the Golden Bears.
Wyche was coming off a milestone victory in the 400 meters. She won in 59.88 to beat top-seeded Damecia Jones of Bartlett, who had the fastest time in preliminaries but settled for second place in the finals with a time of 1:00.04.
"She's been beating me the whole season, so in the last 50 meters I just gave it my all," Wyche said. "I finally beat her."
Nobody could beat Bausch, the Chugiak junior who won the 3,200 in 9:30.63 Friday and added wins in the 1,600 (4:21.76) and 800 (1:58.94) Saturday.
Bausch, the CIC's dominant distance runner this season, said he was unhappy with his 3,200 race, which he won by less than three seconds.
But he was happy with both of his Saturday races, especially the 800, where he posted a personal-best about an hour after winning the 1,600.
Bausch said he is eager to run the 1,600 at the Bryan Young Invitational meet in Kodiak in two weeks, but his coach would rather put him in the 1,600 relay at that meet.
"She told me I wasn't allowed to run the 1,600 at the Bryan Young meet unless I could run around a 1:59 in the 800," Bausch said. "She said, 'You've gotta show me you can run fast when you're tired.' ''
Bausch rose to the challenge, getting the time his coach wanted and a third victory for the Mustangs.
Eagle River also boasted a triple-winner. Freshman Emily Walsh won Friday's 3,200 and Saturday's 1,600 and 800, holding off a challenge from South's Ava Earl in the 1,600 to win by eight-tenths of a second to complete the hat trick.
Seven athletes finished with two individual wins apiece, including South sprinter Robinson.
Chugiak boasted two double-winners — Emma Nelson (triple jump, high jump) and Brooklynn Gould (100 hurdles, 300 hurdles) for the girls, and Mason Wadsworth (high jump, 110 hurdles) for the boys.
Other double-winners were Dimond's Alissa Pili (shot put, discus), Bartlett's Thomas Sio (shot put, discus) and East's Colton Herman (100, 200).
Wadsworth's bid for a third win was derailed by Daryl Bushnell of East, who beat Wadsworth in the 300 hurdles by less than half a second.
The hurdle race happened not long after Bushnell ran a 200-meter leg for East's third-place 800 relay team.
"I took a 10-minute nap and recharged everything," he said.
Bushnell, a senior, said he became a hurdler as soon as he tried track as a seventh grader.
"It was running and jumping, and I thought, 'Oh, that seems fun,' " he said. "It came naturally. My second race in seventh grade, I hit a hurdled and tripped and fell and still came in second-place."
Gould, who swept the hurdle races for Chugiak, said she became a hurdler when a high school coach saw her run in middle school.
"My middle school coach didn't want me to do hurdles because he was afraid I'd get hurt," she said. "I did one race in middle school and the hurdle coach at Chugiak saw me."
The coach attended the same church as Gould's family and quickly converted Brooklynn into a hurdler.
"I ended up doing really well," Gould said. "It's kind of my thing."