The respective seniors from Lathrop and Delta Junction each capitalized on strong starts on the West Valley track to win the 3,200-meter runs in the first all-schools meet of the high school track and field season in Interior Alaska.
The race, contested amid sunny skies and 50-degree weather, marked the first running competition for high school track and field athletes in this part of the state. In the season-opening mini-meets at North Pole during the past two weekends, the running events were canceled because of late-winter conditions on the school’s track.
Edic outpaced 11 other girls entries to win in 11 minutes, 42.5 seconds. Ionashku pulled away from 23 other runners to collect first place in the boys race in 10:14.9. Edic departed the starting line in a relaxed pace while she was ahead of the pack. The Malemutes standout opened her stride halfway through the first lap to extend her lead.
“When I got more into the race, the stride opened up,” said Edic, “and I felt the race and got into a zone.”
Lathrop sophomore and eventual race runner-up Brooke Lizotte was two seconds back of her senior teammate following the first lap. Edic’s lead widened to eight seconds after the fourth lap of the eight-lap event.
“I really wanted to set a personal record,” Edic said. “I wanted to go out fast and hold on to it. I told myself to keep going as long as you can and as fast as you can.”
Lathrop assistant coach Kevin Brinegar also saw a smart race from Edic, who captured the Class 4A girls state cross country title last fall and is headed to Northern Michigan University this fall.
“She’s pretty methodical in the way she approaches her races,” Brinegar said. “Then she relies on that instinct of competitiveness that she has to carry her to the finish.”
Lizotte finished in 12:06.1. Palmer teammates Sami Contraras and Hanna Bohman traded third and fourth places throughout the race until Contraras ended in third at 12:17.7 and Bohman followed at 12:18.0. North Pole’s Kelly Schmitz rounded out the top five in 13:08.8.
Ionashku bolted into the lead at the start of the boys race and never looked back.
The Huskies senior said he didn’t have a strategy for the race, but he was aware of the atmosphere at the West Valley track. Like Edic and several other athletes from the Interior, Ionashku’s first competition on a track this year came last weekend at the Big C Relays in the Dome in Anchorage.
“I knew it was windy and sunny and there were a lot of great competitors here,” Ionashku said of Friday’s race. “I really didn’t know what to do until I got into it.”
Ionashku said that because no one else took the lead at the start, he decided to set the pace.
“I just went,” he said.
Once he was well ahead of the pack, Ionashku focused on mental toughness.
“I was learning how to cope with running by myself and coping with running with my pain rather than someone right next to me,” he said.
Ionashku wore a compression sock Friday on his right calf because of a muscle problem.
West Valley junior Mikko Sayre focused on securing second place in his first race of the season. Sayre stayed among a pack of four to five runners throughout the race.
“I didn’t want to go out too fast because it would hurt me later in the race,” he said. “So I thought I would just take it out slow and build it up from there.”
Sayre clocked in at 10:22.1 and Palmer’s Chris Oskiensky placed third in 10:30.0. Lathrop teammates Keegan Rankin and Kade Fitzgerald placed fourth and fifth, respectively, in 10:41.8 and 11:02.1.
West Valley senior Sarah Swanson won the girls discus with a personal-best effort of 109 feet, 8 inches.
“This was our first week outside,” said Swanson, “so it was exciting to finally get to throw it in the air and see how far it went rather than just throwing it into a net (in the school gymnasium).”
The Wolfpack practiced outdoors Tuesday for the first time after West Valley assistant coach Wendy Quinn shoveled about two feet of snow two days earlier from the throwing area.
Wolfpack senior Ray Garris-Shoemaker won the boys shot put with an effort of 44-9. The high jump took place next door in the Hutchison gymnasium, where Lathrop’s Tevin Gladden won the boys event with a height of 6-1 and West Valley’s Megan Drange led the girls at 5-2.
The meet resumes this morning at 10 with the girls shot put and boys discus, followed at 11 by other running events. There are no triple jumps and long jumps this weekend because of deep wet conditions in the sand pits.
Contact staff writer Danny Martin at 459-7586.