The track and field regional championship was hosted by Thunder Mountain in Juneau last weekend and the competition was fierce, almost as fierce as the weather.
“It was incredibly nasty out. We thought about canceling the first day because of the high winds, the weather, the rain, but we didn’t have time to do a two-day meet in one day, so we pressed on,” said Vikings Head Coach Brad Taylor.
Klas Stolpe described the meet as the coldest, wettest, most miserable meet ever.
Despite the inclement conditions coach Taylor was thrilled with the performances from the Vikings team.
“The kids came to compete, and they competed in lousy conditions…our kids performed as well as they ever have in any meet. They were very close to meeting or exceeding all their personal bests,” said Taylor.
Several of this season’s earlier meets were graced with clear skies and warm weather, so to match those times when conditions were perfect makes this weekend’s drenched effort all the more remarkable.
The Vikings boys team finished a respectable 3rd place overall coming in behind powerhouse teams from Haines and Sitka.
Petersburg’s girls took second in the region, finishing as a team just barely behind first place Haines.
“We knew it was going to be very close with the girls team. It ended up being twelve points away from first place in the Region. I’m just really, really super pleased with how it ended up,” said Coach Taylor.
The girl’s team results are packed with highlights.
Bessie Johnson is the regional champ in the 100-meter hurdles.
Carolyn Kvernvik competed for the first time ever in the high jump event and took first place.
The girls relay teams had outstanding performances.
“The 4x200, 4x400, 4x800 were all first place races,” said Taylor. “The 4x200 was a photo finish. The 4x400 was one of the best races of the day to watch, and the 4x800 they just really did a great job. They just went out and won by almost a minute.”
Long distance star Diane Murph earned the title of regional champion in the 3200 meter.
Emily Luczak placed third in the discus.
“She barely qualified in the prelims, and in her first throw in the finals she threw 50 feet further than the prelims and went from 7th to 3rd place. She was excited,” said Taylor.
The Vikings girl sprinters were led by Maria Lopez and Emma Engell.
Lopez finished 2nd in the 100 and 200 meter sprints, finishing a fraction of a second behind the first place runner.
“Phenomenal performances from Maria Lopez, and Emma Engell did great,” said Taylor.
Engell finished 3rd in the 200 and 5th in the 100 meter.
Nine Petersburg girls qualified for State at the meet.
The boys team made a huge impression as well.
“Joe Zarlengo had two great races in the hurdles. The 300 was a photo finish,” said Taylor.
Zarlengo took second place in both races, while Mazani Rawhani finished 3rd in the 110 and 4th in the 300.
“Mazani had a great finish. In both the 110 and 300 hurdles he qualified for state,” said Taylor.
Andrew Mathisen and Joe Zarlengo both had strong showings in the long jump and are currently first alternates for the state meet in that event.
“Allen Jensen did a great job in the discus. Abigail Taylor had a great meet. Grace Weller had a great meet. All those second and third place finishes scored us points,” said Taylor.
The boys 4x100 meter relay team, consisting of Elijah Wagner, P K Bunyi, Mizani Rawhani and Joe Zarlengo, qualified for state with a 2nd place finish.
“I was really pleased with the total outcome,” said Taylor “I told those guys, ‘You did your absolute best. Whether you end up winning the regional championship or not, you can hold your head high because you really performed well.’”
To close the season, this weekend, the qualifying Vikings runners travel to Lathrop High School in Fairbanks to compete in the State Championship.