• Ninilchik Wolverine Jack Wheeler dominates jumping events in Class 1-2-3 Regions
By Sean Pearson
Homer athletes took another step toward State with strong performances at the Region III Track and Field Championships at Nikiski High School last Friday and Saturday.
Homer girls took the top spot in the 1600-meter relay, finishing in 4 minutes, 22.58 seconds. The team, comprising Azizza Shemet-Pitcher, Tayla Cabana, Cassidy Soistman and Aurora Waclawski will head to Fairbanks on Friday to compete in the State meet.
Waclawski also turned in strong performances individually, finishing second in the 800m and third in the 400. In a very tight 400m race, the freshman was less than half a second behind first place, and 17-hundreths of a second behind second.
Waclawski said she was extremely happy with all of her races, but is working to improve her strategy in the 800.
“At this point in the year, we’re peaking so we’re doing easier workouts,” she said. “We aren’t really trying to get in better shape, but just trying to get some rest and perfect the technical work.”
Homer girls also took second in the 3,200 relay and third in the 800 relay. The Lady Mariner team finished less than .25 seconds behind first-place Grace Christian.
Individually, Homer girls also picked up several points in both running and field events. Senior Casey Farrell took second in the 3,200 with a time of 12:08.95, and second in the 1,600, where she posted a time of 5:40.11. Teammate Barae Hirsch finished third in the 3,200 in 12:13.19, while Abigale Brant was eighth with a finish time of 13:17.01.
In field events, Soistman finished third in the triple jump, leaping to a distance of 31 feet, 2 inches. Her jump was one-quarter inch behind first-place Marlee Cunningham of Skyview. Homer junior Tayla Cabana finished third in the long jump with a distance of 14 feet, 8.25 inches.
In boys’ action, senior Sam Reinert finished third in the 400m and fifth in the high jump. He said he was unsure of some of the standings because of some disqualification confusion, but was told by Homer Coach Bill Steyer that he had qualified for State in the high jump, 400m and 4×200 relay.
“The weather wasn’t too optimal on the second day, but we still toughed it out, and nearly everyone got personal bests.” Reinert said. “It was impressive seeing how everyone stepped it up, and I’m proud to be part of such a determined and hard-working team.”
Mark McGregor, also a senior, took third in both the 110 hurdles and discus, while sophomore Connor Seay finished third in the 300 hurdles.
In individual distance running, Pedro Ochoa finished fifth in the 3,200 with a time of 10:28.11. Ochoa said he is still on the mend after suffering an injury two weeks ago.
“I got to watch my teammates succeed in the Homer meets while I was injured, but it really made me want to be part of their success,” Ochoa said. “I fed off their positive energy, and went into Regions not fully recovered, but mentally strong. I knew I had to step up my game.”
Homer boys also went on to take third in the 800 relay.
Qualifying athletes will compete in the State Meet in Fairbanks this weekend.
Region III track and field
Class 3A Homer Girls
400: 3. Aurora Waclawski, 1:03.36.
800: 2. Waclawski, 2:32.19.
1,600: 3. Casey Farrell, 5:40.11.
800 relay: 3. Homer 1:59.02.
3200: 2. Farrell, 12:08.95. 3. Barae Hirsch, 12:13.19. 8. Abigale Brant, 13:17.01.
1,600 relay: 1. Homer (Azizza Shemet-Pitcher, Tayla Cabana, Cassidy Soistman, Aurora Waclawski), 4:22.58.
3,200 relay: 2. Homer 10:12.98.
Triple jump: 3. Soistman, 31-2.
Long jump: 3. Cabana, 14-8.25.
400: 3. Sam Reinert, 54.47.
110 hurdles: 3. Mark McGregor, 16.78.
300 hurdles: 3. Connor Seay, 43.98.
3,200: 5. Pedro Ochoa, 10:28.11.
800 relay: 3. Homer 1:41.27.
Discus: 3. McGregor, 117-01.
High jump: 4. Reinert, 5-08.
Ninilchik standout Jack Wheeler qualified for three events for the Class 1-2-3A state meet on Friday at the Region II Championships in Talkeetna.
Wheeler, who dominated the jumping events, said the weather was very cooperative, with temperatures running in the 60s. He took first in the high jump with a height of 5 feet, 4 inches, as well as taking the top spot in the long jump with a leap of 16 feet, 11 3-4 inches. Finally, Wheeler had a mark of 38 feet, 1.25 inches to win the triple jump by almost 10 feet.
With the State meet looming this weekend, Wheeler said he is at the peak of his physical condition and has never been healthier. He plans to work this week on adding at least a foot to his jumps.
“It’s my senior year and my last chance to do something, so I better make it count,” Wheeler said. “I have to credit all my success to God. He’s helped me through everything and has made me the athlete I am today. Without Him, I would be average.”
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