Soldotna’s Eli Cravens, Zach Burns, Trenton O’Reagan and Avery Reid celebrate winning the 400-meter relay at the Division I state track and field meet at Dimond High School in Anchorage, Alaska, on Saturday, May 29, 2021. (Photo by Tim Rockey/Frontiersman)

Soldotna’s Eli Cravens, Zach Burns, Trenton O’Reagan and Avery Reid celebrate winning the 400-meter relay at the Division I state track and field meet at Dimond High School in Anchorage, Alaska, on Saturday, May 29, 2021. (Photo by Tim Rockey/Frontiersman)

SoHi girls, boys both take 3rd at state track

Behind individual champions Nathanael Johnson and Drysta Crosby-Schneider, the Soldotna track and field teams both finished third at the Division I state meet Friday and Saturday at Dimond High School in Anchorage.

Chugiak won the boys title with 100 points, while West Valley was second with 65 and the Stars scored 61. On the girls side, West Valley topped the standings with 99 points, while South had 89.5 and Soldotna had 56.

Soldotna head coach Phil Leck said the Stars had two of the best teams in school history last season. Soldotna was ready to aim for a sweep of the state titles when the season was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

After losing so many graduates from last season, Leck said it was a big accomplishment to come back and get both teams in the top five.

“We just work hard,” he said. “I mean, the kids work hard to develop their craft. They put in the time and effort to get better.”

Drysta Crosby-Schneider led the Soldotna girls by winning the triple jump at 36 feet, 3 inches. She also finished second in the long jump at 16—1.25.

Crosby-Schneider said mustering all the power it takes to get through a triple jump hurts a bit, but it’s all worthwhile once an impressive mark is called.

“It’s kind of crazy to think that I didn’t do triple jump my freshman year and now I’m winning state,” she said.

Leck said the title came with a lot of hard work.

“We’ve worked really hard with Drysta the last three to four weeks just on that event to get the technical aspect of it down, and it paid off with a state championship,” Leck said.

Autumn Fisher finished second in the discus at 113—6 and third in the shot put at 35—1.25, while Jordan Strausbaugh came through with fifth place in the 400 meters at 1 minute, 2.43 seconds.

The SoHi girls also had the 1,600 relay take second at 4:10.78, the 3,200 relay take third at 10:10.13 and the 400 relay take fifth at 54.56.

The Soldotna boys were led by victories by Nathanael Johnson in the 400 at 52.85, and the 400 relay team at 44.66.

Johnson also was fifth in the 800 at 2:00.65 and fifth in the triple jump at 39—1. He finished the meet by anchoring the 1,600 relay to a second-place finish and the second-fastest time in school history. Leck said that 400-800-400 in such a short time period says all you need to know about Johnson.

“Guts,” Leck said in a text message. “Nate has the will to win.”

The winning 400 relay was made up of Eli Cravens, Zach Burns, Trenton O’Reagan and Avery Reid.

“It’s amazing,” Cravens said. “We’re all seniors so this is our last chance to do anything so getting this last opportunity and getting this win is really big for all of us.”

O’Reagan also was third in the 200 at 23.04 and third in the long jump at 20—3.25. Burns took third in the 400 at 53.02. Dylan Dahlgren was third in the shot put at 45—9 and fifth in the discus at 123—11.

Leck said the state meet always is bittersweet.

“For me, this meet is always kind of a tough meet,” he said. “I watch kids that I’ve worked so hard with for four years go away for the last time.”

In the Division II state meet, the Sitka girls and Anchorage Christian Schools boys won the team titles.

On the girls side, Homer was fourth, Seward was sixth, Nikiski was seventh and Kenai Central was ninth. On the boys side, Seward was fourth, Kenai was sixth, Homer was 10th, Cook Inlet Academy was 15th and Ninilchik was 17th.

The Seward boys collected individual titles from Tommy Cronin in the triple jump at 41—.5 and long jump at 19—11.5, and from Trey Ingalls in the 300 hurdles at 42.33.

Also for the Seward boys, Sam Koster was second in the triple jump at 40—3.5 and fourth in the long jump at 17—11.5, Max Pfeiffenberger was fourth in the high jump at 5—6, Levi Deboard was fifth in 400 at 54.33, the 1,600 relay was third in 3:45.76 and the 3,200 relay was third in 8:58.14.

Kenai’s Maison Dunham won the other DII boys title by running the 400 in 52.37. He was second in the 800 at 1:59.75.

“A shoutout to my coach Ivy O’Guinn,” Dunham said. “She did a great job training me this year and got the best out of me.”

Kenai’s David Martin was fifth in the long jump at 17—10, while the 400 relay was fourth at 49.26 and 800 relay was sixth at 1:50.51.

For the Homer boys, Joshua Manwiller was second in the shot put at 39—11.5 and fourth in the discus at 118—5, Liam James was third in the 200 at 23.97, Aiden Brost was sixth in the 110 hurdles at 18.38 and the 1,600 relay was fourth at 3:46.29.

Cook Inlet Academy’s Isaac Johnson was fourth in the 100 at 11.90, fifth in the 200 at 24.09 and fourth in the 400 at 54.20.

For the Division II girls, Homer’s Laura Inama won the hurdles at 50.18 and the long jump at 16—.25. The Mariners 1,600 relay also won at 4:19.27. Also for Homer, Gracie Gummer was second in the 400 at 1:01.93, and Leah Evans was fifth in the long jump at 14—3.

The Nikiski girls won the 800 relay at 1:51.93 and were second in the 400 relay at 55.33. Also for the Bulldogs, Bailey Epperheimer was second in the high jump at 4—6 and second in the 300 hurdles at 51.11.

For Kenai, Emilee Wilson was third in the triple jump at 31—.75, fifth in the 800 at 2:31.14 and sixth in the 400 at 1:04.30. Also for the Kards, Denali Bernard was third in the shot put at 28—.95, Grace Morrow was fifth in the shot put at 26—.95, the 1,600 relay was sixth at 4:38.58 and the 3,200 relay was sixth at 11:22.81.

For the Seward girls, Hailey Anderson was second in the shot put at 29—7 and third in the discus at 84—9, Robin Cronin was third in the triple jump at 29—.5, and Shelby Sieminski was fourth in the 800 at 2:29.43 and fifth in the 1,600 at 5:40.58. Also, the 800 relay was fourth in 2:01.36, the 1,600 relay was fourth in 4:34.69 and the 3,200 relay was second at 10:33.73.

Also making headlines at the meet was Tristian Merchant, a recent graduate of Anchorage Christian Schools. Friday, Merchant ran the 3,200 in 8:52.53 to best the previous state record that Kodiak’s Levi Thomet set at 9:09.41 in 2015. It also removed Don Clary’s 2-mile time of 9:04.4 in 1975 from the record books.

Tim Rockey of the Frontiersman contributed to this story.

Homer’s Laura Inama wins the 300 hurdles at the Division II state track and field meet at Dimond High School in Anchorage, Alaska, on Saturday, May 29, 2021. (Photo by Tim Rockey/Frontiersman)

Homer’s Laura Inama wins the 300 hurdles at the Division II state track and field meet at Dimond High School in Anchorage, Alaska, on Saturday, May 29, 2021. (Photo by Tim Rockey/Frontiersman)

Soldotna’s Nathanael Johnson leans to win the 400 meters at the Division I state track and field meet at Dimond High School in Anchorage, Alaska, on Saturday, May 29, 2021. (Photo by Tim Rockey/Frontiersman)

Soldotna’s Nathanael Johnson leans to win the 400 meters at the Division I state track and field meet at Dimond High School in Anchorage, Alaska, on Saturday, May 29, 2021. (Photo by Tim Rockey/Frontiersman)

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