• Homer runners grab six first-place finishes at Regions
By Sean Pearson
Homer’s track and field team continues to pick up speed as they sprint toward the finish line of the 2014 season.
Solid Mariner performances at last week’s unseasonable warm regional meet in Palmer showed just how far they’ve come since opening at Big C Relays on April 4.
And with the State Meet looming ahead this weekend, nobody is ready to start slowing down now.
Lady Mariners Molly Mitchell and Aurora Waclawski led the way for Homer girls, combining for the lion’s share of the team’s 87 points and third-place finish.
Mitchell won the 1,600-meter event in 2 minutes, 24.89 seconds — a full 13 seconds ahead of the second-place finisher. She also grabbed gold in the 3,200m, winning by a 34 second margin with her time of 11:45.37.
“Going into this meet, I had the top time in both the mile and two mile,” Mitchell explained. “I was determined to keep my spot.”
Keep it she did.
She also teamed up with sophomore standout Aurora Waclawski, as well as Audrey Rosencrans and Lauren Jones to take first in the 3,200m relay.
“This week, it was really hot, so I had to find shade to make sure the sun didn’t drain me,” Mitchell said. “I try to eat healthily and be hydrated all week prior to a meet, and I try not to stress too much in advance. I wait until the race so I can channel it into going faster.”
Teammate Waclawski also had a strong showing, winning the girls individual 800m, taking second in the 400m, and helping her 1,600 relay team win gold.
“I think I did well because it was so nice out, and I was mentally ready to run,” Waclawski said. “It helped to have a great team supporting as well.”
Senior Tayla Cabana also joined in the first-place 1,600m relay win, as well as picking up third in the 100 hurdles, and fourth in the 300 hurdles.
In field events, Cabana placed sixth in the long jump.
In boys action, junior sprinter Connor Seay continued to make strides toward a state championship in the 300 hurdles. Seay finished with a time of 43.80 seconds for the win, and helped the Homer boys team to an overall fourth-place finish; just four points behind Seward.
Seay also placed third in the 100-meter, and eighth in the long jump.
“The heat definitely gave me an advantage,” Seay said. “It made me run a lot faster because my muscles were already warmed up from all that heat. My muscles weren’t all tensed up like if it was cold.”
Senior distance runner Pedro Ochoa credited his solid performances on a different set of factors.
“On the first day of the meet, I was the No. 1 seed for the 3,200-meter, but I wasn’t in the zone,” Ochoa said. “I wasn’t warmed up properly and mentally, I just wasn’t ready.”
Ochoa still finished at a respectable third place, but knew he could do better.
“On day two, I wanted to redeem myself in the 800m and the 1600m,” he said. “So this time, I got mentally focused before the whole meet even started.”
Ochoa said that, while warming up, he got a text from his mom, telling him that his grandmother was praying for him.
“I began to cry because my family means a lot to me; plus, she lives in Mexico, and has only gotten to see me run once,” he explained. “From there on, I was in the zone. I was so focused, I placed second in both the 800 and 1,600 meter events.”
Mariner John Shank placed fifth in the long jump and sixth in the triple jump, and Homer’s 800m relay team was edged by Anchorage Christian School by less than half a second.
In 2A competition, Seldovia’s Souleymane Sidibe took gold in the boys 110-meter hurdles, winning with a time of 21.40 seconds. Teammate Devin Chissus finished second.
The Seldovia boys team of Calem Collier, Dylan Waterbury, Austin Crosby and Aidan Philpot took first place in the 800-meter relay with a time of 1:45.26.
Collier also won the boys triple jump at 36 feet, 2-1/2 inches.
“I’m really happy with not just my performance, but also my team’s performance,” Collier said. “To be able to win Regions in track the first year we do it is great — especially considering we don’t even have a track in Seldovia”
Collier and his teammates train on dirt roads.
“I’m hoping we can be in at least the top 3 in the relay at State,” he said. “And, while I might have won the triple jump at Regions, the State meet is completely different. If we could get at least third, that would be awesome.”
Ninilchik’s Tyler Thorne finished second in both the boys 1,600 and 3,200-meter races.
Class 3A girls
100: 6. Angela Cardoza, 14.29.
200: 8. Ziza Shemet Pitcher, 28.89.
400: 2. Aurora Waclawski, 1:01.84. 4. Shemet Pitcher, 1:03.13. .
800: 1. Waclawski, 2:24.89. 4. Molly Mitchell, 2:27.19. 6. Audrey Rosencrans, 2:44.55.
1,600: 1. Mitchell, 5:26.55. 5. Rosencrans, Homer, 6:01.68.
3,200: 1. Mitchell, 11:45.37. 4. Rosencrans, Homer, 12:55.55. 6. Russell, Homer, 14:12.39.
100 hurdles: 3. Tayla Cabana, 17.25. 4. Lauren Evarts, 17.67. 8. Lauren Jones, 19.69.
300 hurdles: 4. Cabana, 51.86. 5. Evarts, 54.32. 6. Jones, 55.19.
400 relay: 5. Homer 55.87.
800 relay: 4. Homer 1:57.67.
1,600 relay: 1. Homer (Shemet Pitcher, Cabana, Crystal Crane, Waclawski), 4:19.21.
3,200 relay: 1. Homer (Mitchell, Rosencrans, Jones, Waclawski), 10:59.70.
High jump: 4. Crane, Homer, 4-04.
Long jump: 6. Cabana, Homer, 13-06.50.
Class 3A boys
100: 3. Connor Seay, 12.28. 4. Joseph Cardoza, 12.66.
800: 2. Pedro Ochoa, 2:04.31.
1,600: 2. Ochoa, 4:38.61.
3,200: 3. Ochoa, 10:16.86.
300 hurdles: 1. Seay, 43.80.
400 relay: 2. Homer 48.19.
800 relay: 2. Homer 1:37.96.
1,600 relay: 5. Homer 3:55.20.
3,200 relay: 6. Homer 10:07.12.
Long jump: 5. John Shank, 18-03.50. 8. Seay, 17-05.50.
Triple jump: 6. Shank, 36-09.
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