Put a Mariner on dry land and what do you get? A track and field team to be proud of, as the Homer High School boys and girls teams proved at the ASAA 3A State High School Track and Field Championships held last weekend at Lathrop High School in Fairbanks.
With 20 boys and girls squads facing off in one of the coldest track meets of the season, the Homer girls team, with 74 points, took second to Grace Christian, with 117 points. The Homer boys, with 31 points, claimed eighth place, and Anchorage Christian took first with 99 points.
“What an amazing weekend at state,” said HHS Head Coach Bill Steyer.
In addition to the girls’ second and the boys’ eighth place, highlights for the weekend included:
• Each of the 14 participating Homer athletes earning one or more medals;
• Homer girls receiving the Small Schools 1A, 2A, 3A State Academic Achievement Award with a 3.9 grade-point-average;
• Homer girls taking first place in the 4x400 relay state championship.
“Their time was so smokin’ fast that they would have come in second place in the 4A large schools,” said Steyer, who has been coaching at the school for five years.
This is the first year Homer has competed in the 1A, 2A, 3A small schools category, rather than with 4A large schools.
“Now we’re in a more comparable playing field, so to speak, with the size schools and number of athletes,” said Steyer, adding, “But our team is better and we took nine girls and five guys.”
During the last two weeks, Steyer said the Homer athletes have developed a “terrific team element which we were encouraging them to do all year. They’re really supportive of one another and that collective energy allowed them, I’m sure, to perform at a higher level.”
Knowing their capabilities, Steyer said he wasn’t concerned about how the Homer runners and jumpers would do at the state level. Watching their results, however, added to the excitement.
“Because we were scoring so high, I was like, wow, we’re in second place,” said Steyer. “Then I started thinking of the events left, the distance events, which is what we’ve been dominating, and I thought, we could pull this off. And they did.”
Only three of the Homer athletes — Casey Farrell, Mark McGregor and Sam Reinert — are seniors, which puts the team in good stead for next year. Events sponsored by the Kachemak Bay Running Club will help keep them in shape during the summer. It includes a youth running program for middle and high school students and Tuesday night speed workouts.