New school records, strong team performances, and high levels of positivity and camaraderie were on full display Saturday on day two of the Alaska Region VI 2023 Regionals at West Valley High School.
West Valley high school’s Alex Emmers officially set the school record in high jump with his jump of 6 feet, 7 inches in day one, ranking him first in the state for the season. Additionally, teammate Emanuel Bostwick’s 6-foot, 4-inch jump placed him second in the state.
The West Valley girls team continued right where their 3200 squad, which had runners place first, second and third in day one, left off, winning several of the distance races.
Sophomore Layla Fields brought home two wins, winning the 100 and 200 meter races with times of 13.47 and 28.08 in the events, respectively. Senior Riga Grubis kept the double win trend going with first in the 800 and 1600 meter races, running times of 2:29.59 and 5:37.91, respectively.
Overall, the girls placed second in the 4A division. Lathrop’s girls team took home the win in 4A with a score of 97.
West Valley’s good performances didn’t stop there, though.
“Our boys four by four are ranked first in the state right now,” head coach Hannibal Grubis said. “There’s some strong things going into state, which is nice.”
The West Valley boys took home the team win in the 4A division with a score of 89 points. Day two featured plenty of wins in the distance events.
Just like the girls, even down to the exact same events, the boys had two double winners. Senior Elijah Dominique won the 100 and 200 meter races with times of 11.46 and 23.17, respectively and senior Shane Fisher won the 800 and 1600 meter races with times of 2:10.06 and 4:40.36, respectively.
The squad also took home another individual win with senior Caleb Peterson in the 300m hurdles with a time of 42.99.
As for their relays, the boys team did a complete sweep, taking home first in every relay. Their four by four squad featuring Curtis Beck, Elijah Dominique, Caleb Petersen, and Shane Fisher is ranked number one statewide in 4A and won their relay with a time of 3:33.28.
In addition to the boys and girls teams competing, the meet also featured six unified events for special olympic athletes. North Pole and Delta Junction high had unified athletes compete in the 100 meter race, long jump, and shot put.
North Pole senior William Cline won the boys unified 100 meter race, long jump, and shot put, North Pole junior Michaela Holland won the girls unified 100 and long jump, and North Pole junior Destiny Davis won the girls unified shot put.
Beyond the actual scores, several teams were feeling great overall with team performances at the meet.
“We had more people on that podium yesterday than I, myself, have personally seen in about six years here,” Head Coach Brenson Hardy said. “It’s been phenomenal to see those athletes up there and the smiles, you know, and the hard work paying off.”
“We set three school records,” Valdez head coach Becky Walker. “We set on in the girls 4 by 100, one in the boys 4 by 800, and one in the 110 meter hurdles. It was exciting.”
In the girls 4 by 100, Anika Palomar, Kelsey Prax, Destiny Day, and Izzy Kizer combined for a time of 54.20. The boys 4 by 800 squad featured Jason Smilie, Rafe Caruthers, Gavin Morris, and Barrett McCumby with a time of 8.55.50. The lone Valdez individual to set a school record was senior Dillon Fowler, who ran a time of 16.51.
Valdez set those records en route to a first and second place team finish in the boys and girls 3A division, respectively. Monroe Catholic’s team won the girls 3A division with a score of 87.
West Valley High wasn’t alone in setting school records.
This positivity comes despite a shortened season, where for some teams, this meet was their fourth or fifth of the season because of cancellations.
“[The cancellations] make it tough,” Walker said.
However, despite those circumstances and depleted support still lingering from Covid-19 according to Hannibal, teams came together as one in the regional meet.
“It’s really great to see the kids getting into it and being positive,” Hannibal said. “They are all friends across the different teams and it’s fun to do the competition.”
Consequently, the bonds didn’t end just at the athletes.
“One thing I really enjoy about the camaraderie is that interior regional, at the regional meet, the teams are looking out for each other,” Hardy said. “If you notice, the coaches are inspiring each other…Our coaches are giving advice to other coaches…they really allow other coaches to glean and teach their athletes.”
Beyond the regional meet, the state meet is next up for several athletes. Each team at the regional meet had athletes qualify for states, either by score or winning their event at the regional meet. The state meet is Friday and Saturday at Palmer High School.