Story last updated at 3:56 p.m. Thursday, May 23, 2002

Homer fields 3 to track tourney
by Sepp Jannotta
Staff Writer

The Homer High track and field team will send three of its members to compete in four different events when the State Track and Field Championships get under way Friday at Bartlett High School in Anchorage.

Nahanni Wills, Travis Kauffman and Cody Smith all put in excellent times at last weekend's Region III championships in Palmer and when the dust settled, all were in the top 15 statewide in their events.

Wills, a senior, qualified in two events as she placed third in both the 300- and 100-meter hurdles with times of 50.25 and 17.30 seconds respectively.

Mariner coach Tari Hoeft said she had been anticipating another strong performance from Wills.

"Nahanni's been knocking off a second (from her times) each week of the season," Hoeft said.

Kauffman posted a fourth-place finish in the 3,200-meter run with a personal-best time of 10 minutes, 17.49 seconds. The senior will be making his first appearance at State.

Smith, a junior, qualified for State in the 400-meter dash, taking fifth with a time of 53.68.

The Mariners had 11 athletes competing in the near 70-degree weather in the Matanuska Valley. Both the Mariner girls and boys finished 11th in the team standings.

High jumper Kirsten Baltz took sixth with a jump of 4 feet, 6 inches.

Hoeft said she was excited about the opportunities for her three state athletes. But beyond that, she said it was gratifying because this year's Mariners fostered "a team atmosphere, which was one of my goals when the season started."

Travis Kauffman said he was hopeful he might finish in the top half of the field in the two-miler, though he admitted motivation for training was a little tough to muster with State coming the weekend after he graduated.

He said he'd get in a couple of good workouts with teammate Andrew Peters, whom he credits with getting him into running and cross-country skiing.

Kauffman will begin boot camp for the U.S. Marines in August and figures he will keep up his training during the summer, as long as it doesn't interfere with his fishing time.