Track and field kicked off their season in Ketchikan with an unusual meet last weekend.
Most track meets are invitationals and are attended by many nearby schools, but the season opener scheduled in Sitka was canceled, so Ketchikan invited Petersburg to come down for a rare two-school dual meet.
“It was the first dual that I’ve ever been a part of, and I’ve been coaching here for thirty years,” said Petersburg Head Coach Brad Taylor.
To make things even more unusual, Mary Hagemann, the Ketchikan coach, asked the Vikings to bring a middle school team.
“I contacted Jaimie Cabral and said ‘can we get a middle school team started?’ and he said ‘you bet,’ so the rest is history,” said coach Taylor. “It was awesome.”
The small meet was a very nice way to start the season. With far fewer kids competing, more Petersburg kids made the finals.
“They get to compete more, which is really a plus at the beginning of the year, when you’re trying to get things ironed out. With a lot of kids who’ve never done anything, they get a real taste of track and field.
“The beautiful thing about this last weekend, it was so nice out. The kids were out there laying on the Astroturf. It was warm. The kids were running well, so that was a lot of fun for their first meet, instead of raining and snowing. It makes a big difference for enthusiasm,” said Coach Taylor.
That enthusiasm carried over to competition, with many Petersburg kids winning their events.
“Little Isabelle Ith, who’s a middle schooler ended up winning three events, with high school included. She had a really, really good meet,” said Taylor.
Ith took first place in the triple jump with PHS senior Julia Buschmann coming in second in the event.
Ith also won the long jump, with Bessie Johnson taking second place and Asia Prus getting third.
Isabelle also won the girls 100 meter hurdles with a time of 18.35 seconds. Bessie Johnson came in second with 19.70, followed closely by Grace Weller at 19.87, and Maria Lopez a fraction behind, at 19.91 seconds.
“Joe Zarlengo had a really good meet,” said Taylor.
Zarlengo finished first in the boys 110 meter hurdles, and a close second in the 300 meter hurdles.
Long distance runner John Brooks had a strong performance, taking first in the boys 3200 meter, and third in the 1600 meter.
“Bessie Johnson had a great meet, she ended up second in the hurdles and first in the high jump,” said Taylor.
The boys relay team, including Joe Zarlengo, PK Bunyi, Mizani Rawhani, and Ian Fitts, won the 4x100 meter relay.
Brina Compton delighted the coaches with her first place win in shot put.
“[She] wanted to be the manager, but I said, ‘well lets give it a shot.’ She ended up winning the shot put,” said Taylor.
“All the kids did really, really well. I was so pleased with their efforts,” said Taylor. “A lot of middle school kids did fabulous.”
When asked about his first impressions of the team compared to recent years Taylor said, “We’ve got a lot of talent. Last year our girls were region champs. I haven’t seen the other schools, but I think we are as competitive, girl wise, as we were last year. Our boys team is up this year, and I think athletically and ability-wise we are a bit better than we’ve been the last two years.”
“We lost a few kids that were big point winners last year, and those kids are really hard to replace, but hopefully these guys will step up and perform well,” Taylor said.
The Vikings will have a chance to compare teams from around the region this weekend as they return to Ketchikan to face Juneau, Sitka, Thunder Mountain, Haines, and more.
“It will be a good test of what we look like this year,” said Taylor.