Vikings go to State, relay team shatters school record
Kaz Aoki passes the baton to Mizani Rawhani during the 4x100-meter relay at the state championship meet.
The two-day Track and Field State Championship was held last weekend at Lathrop High School in Fairbanks, with Petersburg athletes scoring points in four events.
Diane Murph ran in the 3200-meter race, she was seeded in 8th going into the event and that’s where she finished.
“She worked as hard as she could. She’s only a sophomore and this is the first year she’s ever run, so I’m really pleased with how she performed,” said Viking Track and Field Head Coach Brad Taylor.
Murph was the only Viking runner to compete on the first day of the meet.
The next day started with Bessie Johnson going toe to toe with some of the state’s toughest hurdlers in the 100-meter. She took 7th in the event, with her time very comparable to her Regional results.
Joe Zarlengo and Mizani Rawhani both competed in the 110-meter high hurdles. Zarlengo finished 4th and Mizani took 6th, both scoring points for the Vikings.
“Both kids dropped time in their hurdle races,” said coach Taylor.
Zarlengo also ran the 300 meter hurdles and earned a medal with an impressive third place finish.
The boys relay team, consisting of Elijah Wagner, Zarlengo, and Rawhani, with Kazuhiro Aoki standing in as alternate for P K Bunyi, finished in 6th place and scored a point for the team.
“Those kids actually ran faster at state than at regions, so that was really nice,” said Taylor.
An exciting highlight at state was the girls 4x400 relay who ended up taking third place in the event a fraction of second behind the second place finishers. The relay team, comprised of Grace Weller, Abigail Taylor, who was replacing Emma Engell as an alternate, Robyn Schwartz and Bessie Johnson, had a time of 4:30.93 in the race, knocking 19 seconds off their time from the Regional Championship and breaking the PHS school record in the event that had stood for 26 years.
Joe Zarlengo earned a third place medal in the state 300-meter hurdles.
“They beat the record by almost three full seconds. It was very cool. The girls were seeded like 5th or 6th and they were looking at the program and saw the regional times and said ‘second place is only twenty seconds ahead of us. We can do that. Yeah, we can do that.’ And they did it,” said Taylor. “Every girl just ran so well. Those girls were so excited that they got to stand up on the medal stand.”
Overall the boys team finished in 11th place and the girls point total landed them in 13th.
“It was a great performance. The weather was beautiful, 70 degrees and sunshine, and the kids just had a blast and competed well,” said Taylor.
Assistant coaches Vicki McIntosh and James Toomey traveled with the team to Fairbanks.
The end of the season left the athletes fired up for next year, with hopes of breaking another record.