High School Sports

At 21st annual Steel Bucket Relay, to the victors go the paintbrushes

Swapping paint isn't an activity exclusive to NASCAR drivers.

Thanks to the outcome of Tuesday's Steel Bucket Relay at Kincaid Park, paint jobs are in order for the traveling trophies awarded to the winning teams at the annual meet between the Dimond and West cross-country teams.

The steel bucket trophies (which are actually aluminum) traded hands after the Dimond boys won the race for the first time since 2011 and the West girls prevailed for the first time since 2015.

The team that wins the bucket gets to paint it in school colors, so for the girls trophy, orange is the new maroon. The boys trophy, which has been orange and black the last six years, will be redecorated in maroon and gold.

"This was a huge deal," said Niko Latva-Kiskola, a senior who anchored the Dimond boys team. "I've been doing this race since my freshman year and they've always had a better team than us, so to win this, it's amazing."

Latva-Kiskola teamed up with Noah Hoefer, Santiago Prosser and Fred Rygh to win the 4×2.2.-kilometer race in 28 minutes, 27.5 seconds. The West A team of Everett Cason, Isaac Dammeyer, Ben Post and Ethan Davis was next in 29:16.8.

Cason gave West an early lead by running the opening leg in 6:55, but Dimond took the lead for good on the next leg when Prosser clocked a 6:46, the fastest time of the day.

By the end of the race, the Lynx had a big enough lead that Latva-Kiskola was able to celebrate as he crossed the finish line, going through a bit of choreography borrowed from his other life as a soccer player.

"That's my old goal celebration," he said of the twirling of an index finger followed by the cupping of his ears with his hands. "It was fun to have a little leeway to do something like that."

It'll be just as fun to take the bucket away from West and recast it in Dimond colors, he said: "We'll put a lot of jokes on it that only West people will get."

West won the girls race behind a strong opening leg from Payton Smith, a freshman who is quickly learning about the tradition of the Steel Bucket Relay.

"What I did know was we didn't have the bucket, and my coach really wanted the bucket," Smith said. "She promised donuts if we won. So I ran for the donuts."

Smith teamed up with Natalie Hood, Ryann Dorris and Lily Slatonbarker to win the girls relay on 34:57.0. The Dimond A team of Delainey Zock, Kylie Judd, Annika Ostberg and Mary Reinbold finished second in 35:14.3.

Smith's opening leg of 8:21 gave West a big lead, but Judd ran 8:13 for Dimond on the second leg to make things close. Judd's split was the fastest of the day and Smith's was the second-fastest.

West was ahead by about seven seconds going into the final 2.2 kilometers, and any chance the Lynx had of coming from behind was negated by Slatonbarker's solid anchor effort — and Reinbold's loose shoelace.

Reinbold, a junior, ran nearly her entire race while carrying one of her shoes. She kicked off the shoe when her heel came out after about 500 meters.

"I'm kind of obsessed with tying my shoes, so I never thought I'd lose a shoe," she said. "Once my shoe fell off, I lost my race mentality."

Little wonder there. Reinbold said she spent much of the race with her head down, looking at the ground so she didn't injure her foot on a rock or a root.

Tuesday was the 21st running of the Steel Bucket Relay, the brainchild of former coaches John Clark of Dimond and Joe Alward of West. It started out as a pursuit race, with runners going out in intervals, but the next year it became a relay race and has been popular with kids ever since, Alward said.

It's one of a handful of offbeat cross-country races that precede the high-intensity region and state championships at the end of the season. Another is next month's Skinny Raven New Balance 3K, which typically includes hay bales for runners to vault over.

"I like these kind of races," Prosser said. "There's less pressure. You can come out here and be friends with the West guys, but at the same time, it's for the buckets."

Cason, who had Tuesday's second-fastest time, said it's always fun to race when there are trophies at stake.

"This makes you want to win things all through the season," he said. "If we didn't have races like this, you could wait to peak at state."

The Steel Bucket Relay is particularly motivating because it's the same two teams every year, fighting for the same two buckets.

"Last year when it was over we were like, 'OK, what's it gonna be like next season?' '' Cason said.

He said they talked about seniors who wouldn't be back, underclassmen who might come back stronger and incoming freshmen who might make an impact.

"You can talk about it all you want," he said, "but then it's time for less talking and more doing."

And in this case, more painting.

Boys 4×2.2-kilometer relay

1) Dimond (Noah Hoefer, Santiago Prosser, Fred Rygh, Niko Latva-Kiskola) 28:27.5; 2) West (Everett Cason, Isaac Dammeyer, Ben Post, Ethan Davis) 29:16.8; 3) Dimond (George Cvancara, Noah Rygh, Nick Jablonski, Cameron Sheldon) 30:24.4; 4) West (Sawyer Barta, Sam Lebo, Skyler Parks, Harrison Sturm), 31:26.4; 5) Dimond (Ian Cruickshank, Kurtis Brumbaugh, Adrian Velasco, Dastzeni Tibbits) 32:03.1; 6) West (Leo McNicholas, Mason Schrage, Quinn Smith, Charlie Rush) 33:41.9; 7) West (Diego Jenkins, Billy Mueller, Solomon Shepherd, Talis Colberg) 33:51.1; 8) Dimond (Zachary Williams, Nicholas Prosser, Aiden Gannon, Ronnie Fiscus) 34:06.9; 9) West (Diego Jenkins, Beau Brown, Max Embree, Aidan Flannigan) 35:41.6; 10) Dimond (Jaden Nakata, Jared Gardiner, James Tatakis, Preston Skeete) 37:14.2; 11) Dimond (Owen White, Hunter DeWall, Joseph Jablonski, Bret Brumbaugh) 38:04.2; 12) Dimond (Andy Campbell, Markus Latva-Kiskola, Benjamin McCormack, Alex Fiscus) 38:10.5.

Girls 4×2.2-kilometer relay

1) West (Payton Smith, Natalie Hood, Ryann Dorris, Lily Slatonbarker) 34:57.0; 2) Dimond Delainey Zock, Kylie Judd, Annika Ostberg, Mary Reinbold, 35:14.3; 3) West (Hannah Yi, Frida Vargus, Anika Colberg, Kelsey Johannes) 36:38.4; 4) Dimond (Sophia Cvancara, Maria Cvancara, Kaley Fleming, Haille Rogers) 37:01.1; 5) West (Quincy Donley, Lorien Kauffman, Afton Milliman, Ivy Eski) 39:05.7; 6) Dimond (Renee Wilcox, Savanna Maxon, Ailan Johnsen, Carli Walch) 40:39.0; 7) West (Camas Oxford, Valerie Brudie, Amber Draayer, Beatrix Brudie) 40:57.6; 8) Dimond (Katie Puls, Xiomara Chavez, Kierstyn Scarpella, Alexis Black) 41:52.9; 9) Dimond (Lauren Madden, Sarah Lowry, Liz Engle, Hailey Rose) 42:29.3; 10) West (Ceyda Ertekin, Lucy Dammeyer, Shelby Bates, Adira Lawrence)  43:13.1; 11) West (Talya Barnes, Liza Lebo, Ada Lawrence, Kate Becia) 49:04.9; 12) Dimond (Hannah Gross, Emma Montagna, Audrey Pepe-Phelps, Annika Enkvist) 51:01.3.

Boys individual times

1, Santiago Prosser, D, 06:46.8;
2, Everett Cason, W,  06:55.6;
3, Niko Latva-Kiskola, D, 07:09.0;
4, Ethan Davis, W, 07:11.5;
5, Fred Rygh, D, 07:12.9;
6, George Cvancara, D, 07:14.9;
7, Noah Hoefer, D, 07:18.8;
8, Ben Post, W, 07:32.9;
9, Noah Rygh, D, 07:32.9;
10, Cameron Sheldon, D, 07:36.1;
11, Isaac Dammeyer, W,  07:36.9;
12, Harrison Sturm, W, 07:44.4;
13, Kurtis Brumbaugh, D, 07:49.6;
14, Skyler Parks, W, 07:50.1;
15, Dastzeni Tibbits, D, 07:53.1;
16, Sam Lebo, W, 07:53.3;
17, Sawyer Barta, W, 07:58.5;
18, Nick Jablonski, D, 08:00.5;
19, Ian Cruickshank, D, 08:06.2;
20, Leo McNicholas, W, 08:08.2;
21, Diego Jenkins, W, 08:09.2;
22, Nicholas Prosser, D, 08:11.3;
23, Adrian Velasco, D, 08:14.2;
24, Quinn Smith, W, 08:17.1;
25, Billy Mueller, W, 08:18.8;
26, Ronnie Fiscus, D, 08:25.0;
27, Aiden Gannon, D, 08:33.5;
28, Talis Colberg, W, 08:36.7;
29, Mason Schrage, W, 08:37.6;
30, Charlie Rush, W, 08:39.0;
31, Diego Jenkins, W,  08:40.1;
32, Max Embree, W, 08:42.1;
33, Joseph Jablonski, D, 08:42.6;
34, Beau Brown, W, 08:45.1;
35, Solomon Shepherd, W, 08:46.4;
36, Bret Brumbaugh, D, 08:55.7; ,
37, Zachary Williams, D, 08:57.1;
38, Markus Latva-Kiskola, D, 09:00.4;
39, Hunter DeWall, D, 09:04.6;
40, Jared Gardiner, D, 09:12.6D,
41, James Tatakis, D, 09:14.2;
42, Preston Skeete, 09:18.1;
43, Evan Silcox, W, 09:27.2;
44, Jaden Nakata, D, 09:29.3;
45, Elias Darrell, D, 09:31.6;
46, Aidan Flannigan, W, 09:34.3;
47, Elias Lindemuth, W, 09:34.4;
48, Andy Campbell, D, 09:34.6;
49, Benjamin McCormack, D, 09:35.2;
50, Wayne Koelsch, v09:54.7;
51, Alex Fiscus, D, 10:00.2;
52, Levi Brown, W, 10:10.0;
53, Lawton Skaling, D, 10:25.5;
54, Owen White, D, 11:21.3;
55, Adisak Prasannet, W, 14:30.9.

Girls individual times

1, Kylie Judd, D, 08:13.4;
2, Payton Smith, W, 08:21.1;
3, Donley Quincy, W, 08:26.3;
4, Lily Slatonbarker, W, 08:40.4;
5, Mary Reinbold, D, 08:50.3;
6, Natalie Hood, W, 08:51.2;
7, Ivy Eski, W, 08:55.6;
8, Maria Cvancara, D, 08:55.9;
9, Delainey Zock, D, 09:00.3;
10, Sophia Cvancara, D, 09:03.9;
11, Ryann Dorris, W, 09:04.2;
12, Frida Vargus, W, 09:04.4;
13, Hannah Yi, W, 09:07.1;
14, Annika Ostberg, D, 09:10.3;
15, Kelsey Johannes, W, 09:11.4;
16, Anika Colberg, W, 09:15.5;
17, Kaley Fleming, D, 09:21.4;
18, Haille Rogers, D,  09:39.8;
19, Renee Wilcox, D, 09:47.2;
20, Ailan Johnsen, D,  09:56.8;
21, Alexis Black, D, 09:59.2;
22, Camus Oxford, W, 10:02.6;
23, Katie Puls, D, 10:12.4;
24, Savanna Maxon, D, 10:13.5;
25, Beatrix Brudie, W, 10:16.4;
26, Lorien Kauffman, W, 10:17.0;
27, Valerie Brudie, W, 10:18.0;
28, Amber Draayer, W, 10:20.6;
29, Shelby Bates, W, 10:20.8;
30, Sarah Lowry, D, 10:22.5;
31, Lucy Dammeyer, W, 10:22.7;
32, Liz Engle, D, 10:28.5;
33, Lauren Madden, D, 10:31.3;
34, Hannah Gross, D, 10:32.7;
35, Ceyda Ertekin, W, 10:33.7;
36, Carli Walch, D, 10:41.6;
37, Xiomara Chavez, D, 10:42.2;

38, Kierstyn Scarpella, D, 10:59.1;
39, Hailey Rose, D, 11:07.0;
40, Audrey Pepe-Phelps, D, 11:07.4;
41, Afton Milliman, W, 11:26.8; ,
42, Emma Montagna, D, 11:36.0;
43, Liza Lebo, W, 11:53.5;
44, Adira Lawrence, W, 11:55.9;
45, Kate Becia, W, 12:01.2;
46, Ada Lawrence, W, 12:21.7;
47, Talya Barnes, W, 12:48.6;
48, Annika Enkvist, D, 17:45.3.

Beth Bragg

Beth Bragg wrote about sports and other topics for the ADN for more than 35 years, much of it as sports editor. She retired in October 2021. She's contributing coverage of Alaskans involved in the 2022 Winter Olympics.