There is peaking, and then there is peaking at the right time. Kodiak’s track and field team is firing on all cylinders heading into the championship portion of the schedule.
The Bears enter this weekend’s Region III Championships having recorded a long list of personal-best marks in their past two meets.
“I am so excited to be heading to regions with such positive momentum,” Kodiak coach Ashley Mortenson said. “The past two race weekends have been everything we have hoped for — in not necessarily ideal conditions, but we are still pulling our best times of the year.”
There is good news for Kodiak, as today’s temperature in Palmer is slated to reach 68 degrees. The weather for Saturday’s finals will resemble the past week on The Rock — rain and wind.
Perfect conditions for the Bears to make a move on their regional competitors.
“Our team has a strong tradition of totally breaking the rankings and setting a new standard. We are hoping for that this weekend,” Mortenson said.
Do-it-all junior Jisselle Blanco paces eight Kodiak girls into the postseason meet. Blanco qualified in five individual events and picked the 100-meter hurdles, the 300 hurdles, the long jump and triple jump to enter at regions.
She is seeded in third in both hurdle events and in the top 10 in the jumping events.
Blanco was the frontrunner in last year’s regional 100 hurdle race but was disqualified after her trail leg caught the hurdle in the lane next to her. Her teammate Marielle Mangrobang won the race and became Kodiak’s — boys and girls — regional champion.
She doesn’t go in with the top time this year but is close enough to contend in the 100 (17.49) and in the 300 (50.00).
“We are hoping that everything breaks in her favor this season and are hopeful for state qualifying times, but a region title wouldn’t hurt either,” Mortenson said.
Junior Serenity Bushell enters the discus event with the seventh-best regional mark (82-2). She finished seventh a year ago but has improved her distance by over a foot this season. Bushell will also be competing in a new event — the 800-meter run.
“That was a switch she wanted to make mid-season, moving towards those (longer distances). She will be doing some of the relays,” Mortenson said.
Kodiak also qualified seniors Avie Arevalo and Alliah Baisa, junior Abigail Harver and freshmen Maggie Hubert, Donavyn Koehler and Grace McSparron.
“On the girls’ side, it is a smaller team, and will are putting some emphasis on completing relays,” Mortenson said.
Kodiak’s distance runners will all be chasing Colony senior Matthew Rongitsch, who holds the top times in the 800 (2:01.63), the 1,600 (4:24.34) and the 3,200 (9:33.18).
“They are all still trying to figure out how to beat him,” Mortenson said. “That is the way to approach it. Let’s just see what happens.”
Kodiak will be well represented in the longest three individual races, with seven runners in the 1,600, six in the 800 and five in the 3,200. Junior Elias Litzow has the team’s top times in the 800 (2:05.59) and the 3,200 (10:18.34), while sophomore Miles Grimes leads in the 1,600 (4:42.32).
“Our blue line is going to be thick and long, and hopefully, we are going to be pushing and challenging each other to the best times,” Mortenson said. “That is something that we talked about at practice is that at the region meet, your race is against the clock just as much as it is against the guy next to you … half seconds are going to matter for a state spot.”
Athletically gifted Manny Silva posted eight regional qualifying times. Unfortunately for Kodiak, he can not compete in all eight. He entered the long jump and the 110 and 300 hurdles.
The hurdle races are two of Kodiak’s strongest events with senior Joshua Marquez and junior Matthew Macapugay also in the field.
“Both of them (Silva and Macapugay) have improved immensely and I think their times are going to keep dropping,” Mortenson said.
Senior Aron Bautista, Tino Timu and Kent Maramba all advanced to regions in a highly-competitive shot put field. Bautista is seeded fifth (44-8.5), Timu 10th (40-10) and Maramba 12th (38-0.5). Bautista and Maramba also qualified in the discus.
“The hardest part of making it to state for our shot put and discus guys is making finals at regions,” Mortenson said. “I suspect that all eight region finalists will qualify for state because Region III is so deep, particularly in the shot put but also in the disc.”
Kodiak region qualifiers
Avie Arevalo — 100 and 200
Alliah Baisa — 100
Jisselle Blanco — 100 hurdles, 300 hurdles, long jump and triple jump
Serenity Bushell — 800 and discus
Abigail Harver — 1,600 and 3,200
Maggie Hubert — 100 hurdles and 300 hurdles
Donavyn Koehler — relays
Grace McSparron — relays
Jonathan Alonzo — 100 and 200
Bengt Anderson — 800, 1,600 and 3,200
Aron Bautista — Discus and shot put
Miles Grimes — 400, 800 and 1,600
Simon Grimes — 800 and 1,600
Joseph Hathaway — 1,600 and 3,200
Joshua Hathaway — 1,600 and 3,200
Gabriel Koehler — 800
Elias Litzow — 800, 1,600 and 3,200
Matthew Macapugay — 110 hurdles and 300 hurdles
Kent Maramba — shot put and discus
Joshua Marquez — 110 hurdles and 300 hurdles
Gian Saliva — 100 and 200
Jacob Sarnowski — 800 and 1,600
Enrique Silva — long jump and triple jump
Manny Silva — 110 hurdles, 300 hurdles and long jump
John Ticman — 400 and triple jump
Tino Timu — shot put
Paxson Williams — 3,200
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