The fastest man in Alaska got even faster this weekend, and now he’s hanging up his racing spikes.
A week after setting the state high school record in the 100 meters, East High’s Colton Herman turned in an even better performance at the Brian Young Invitational track and field meet at West High.
Herman sprinted to a personal-best time 10.76 seconds Friday, the fastest 100 meters ever run by an Alaska high schooler. He added another PR in Saturday’s 200, winning in 22.04, and then he called it quits.
The meet was the last of his career, Herman said. He’s headed to Bemidji State to play football, and the Minnesota school doesn’t have a track program.
“I debated whether I wanted to transfer or not (to a school with a track team),” he said, “but football is more my passion.”
A wide receiver and defensive back for the Thunderbirds, Herman stands 6 feet and weighs 185. On the track, he is noticeably bigger than other sprinters.
Herman said Bemidji State plans to use him exclusively in the defensive backfield, where his speed should serve him well. “I try to use my strength and size to my advantage,” he said.
Herman was among several athletes who produced top marks at the meet, which is traditionally held the week after the state championships in order to give kids one last chance to shine. The Brian Young Invitational is usually held in Kodiak but came to Anchorage this year, in part to reduce travel costs for the athletes.
Among this year’s top performances was one that was also a sweet moment.
Among Alaska’s most storied track and field marks is Doug Herron’s 1:49.2 in the 800 meters. It came at the 1985 state meet when Herron was a senior at Bartlett High, and it was the fastest high school time in the nation that season.
On Saturday, with his dad watching, Camron Herron ran a 1:51.64 to become the second-fastest Alaska high schooler at 800 meters. According to his dad, the time is the 12th-fastest in the nation this season.
“It’s a pretty big moment,” Doug Herron said. “I’m super proud of that kid.”
Camron, whose previous best was 1:52.74, said he skipped the 400 and 1,600 races this weekend in order to go after a fast time in the 800.
“I’ve been doing four events every week, so I’ve just been tired,” he said. “This was my first race of the meet and I was totally fresh. I was saving everything for it.
“I wanted to get as close to my dad as I could.”
Camron is a West Valley senior who lives in Fairbanks with mom Jennifer Martin. His dad lives in Anchorage, and this school year Doug and Camron got to spend a lot of time together because Camron made several trips to Anchorage to train indoors at The Dome.
Doug Herron’s record is a goal and an inspiration for plenty of Alaska runners, but it’s not something father and son spend a lot of time discussing.
“Not as much as people think,” Camron said. “We know it happened and we know it’s in the bloodline. But we don’t talk about it much, No. 1 because of the pressure and No. 2 because it’s a ridiculously fast time.”
Camron is headed to the University of Arizona, where Doug was a Pac-10 champion in 1987 and two-time All-American.
He said a number of Division I schools recruited him but Arizona made the best offer — one that includes academic aid as well as athletic aid, his mother noted. “He’s nearly a 4.0 student,” she said.
Athlete-of-the-meet honors went to Herman and Delta Junction’s Hailey Williams, a junior who is sure to spark interest from colleges.
She’s a sprinter who swept the Division II state-meet titles in the 100, 200 and 400 last week with times that were faster than the winning marks in the Division I meet.
On Saturday, she ran the second-fastest 200-meter time by an Alaska girl.
Williams clocked 24.78 to win by nearly a second and come within .04 of Tanner Ealum’s state record 24.74, set in 2015 when Ealum was a senior at Anchorage Christian.
It was a personal best for Williams by .03 of a second — she ran a 24.81 at last year’s Brian Young Invitational — and she hopes it’s good enough to qualify her for the New Balance national championships this summer. She qualified for the national championships in the 100 meters last year and responded with a 11.95 — the fastest 100 ever by an Alaska girl.
Williams is serious enough about track that she made several solo trips to Anchorage this winter to train at The Dome with Alaska Peak Performance. She even owns her own starting blocks.
The last two weeks have been a treat for Williams, because she got to run on synthetic tracks at Palmer and West High. The track at Delta Junction is asphalt — a hard, punishing surface — so she and her teammates typically run on grass instead of the track, she said.
“It feels like I’m running on the clouds,” Williams said. “It’s a blessing to run on tracks like this.”