Klas Stolpe / Juneau Empire
Thunder Mountain High School senior Mallory Welling stretches before a Falcons track practice on Wednesday. The Region V Track & Field Championships are Friday and Saturday at Falcons Field.

Klas Stolpe / Juneau Empire Thunder Mountain High School senior Mallory Welling stretches before a Falcons track practice on Wednesday. The Region V Track & Field Championships are Friday and Saturday at Falcons Field.

A late-season heat with capital city track stars

Region V Track and Field Championships begin this weekend at TMHS.

A high school tournament running track is a protected 400-meter oval, with eight restrictive lane lines keeping competitors to task and confining them like penned up race horses while encircling their peers who toil away inside the turns like trick ponies jumping into sand or muscular dystopian figures hefting flat spheres and round iron for our amusement.

Yet it is also freedom.

“I think where my head is at is trying to develop myself into the best person I can be in high school so I’m more prepared for college because that is going to be a big step there,” Thunder Mountain High School senior Mallory Welling said during a recent practice. “Just trying to get my character, I don’t know, my personality and standards just where they can be so I can do well as in my freshman year in college. It will be like starting all over again.”

The temperatures at the oval were approaching 70 degrees on a relatively sweltering Wednesday with the next day forcasted to be hotter and the following the beginning of the Region V Track & Field Championships.

The day was also an impromptu “Senior Skip Day,” meaning some athletes opted for sun events but not classes and thus could not practice.

Welling, junior Hayden Loggy-Smith and sophomore twin sisters Kerra and Cailynn Baxter broke the school record for the girls 4×200 relay last weekend in Sitka and they were not skipping.

Welling is also the defending region and state champion in the hurdles discipline, an all-conference volleyball player, and one of the best alto sax players in Southeast.

Attending Brigham Young University in the Fall, Welling will put DI athletics aside for a bigger purpose and track helps her relax for that.

“There are things in my life I value a little bit more than sports,” she said. “I love sports. I love competitiveness but I think that the amount of time it will take to be that DI athlete, to really put my time into that is not something I value over other little details and skills in my life. Of course my religion, because it is BYU sports wouldn’t really get in the way of my religious practice, but I think just the other smaller details or other little skills that I have. I like to crochet, I like to do ceramics, all these little things that I like to think enrich my character are things I want to develop more.”

A recent week-long trip to a music fest, days missed from sports travel, student government, all add up.

“It can be a lot sometimes to try and balance,” said Welling. “Sometimes it feels, a little bit, like I do sports to relax myself. I love being competitive. I love pushing myself. Sports really do that for me but I hope people remember my integrity and strength of character, because that is something I really value… being a trust-worthy and kind person they can rely on and be friends with. Sure I wanted to go to senior skip day but I have lots of stuff for school I need to get done and also I wasn’t going to be able to practice unless I went to all my classes and, being the week of regions, I think that is something I need to prioritize.”

Welling, Loggy-Smith and the Baxters are expected to win every event they compete in.

“For me it is really just a chill sport compared to basketball where you are always grinding,” Kerra Baxter said. “In track you know your strengths and you just try to get better at those things. Aside from relays you just try to get better for yourself to help the team.”

Cailynn Baxter noted the sisters’ drive.

“We are always competing against each other,” she said. “If there is no competition anywhere else. I think it makes us better because we are both the same at the things we do.”

Although both would like to do college track and basketball they have found a balance with golf — their family owns the Mendenhall Golf Course — and hanging with friends.

“We come from a long line of athletes,” Kerra said. “People mention that, even about our grandfather.”

“And we think that is cool,” Cailynn added. “But yeah, golfing and hanging with friends is nice.”

Thunder Mountain sophomore Kerra Baxter runs through a jump as Falcons coach Dwayne Duskin and sister Cailynn Baxter check her mark during Falcons track practice Wednesday. (Klas Stolpe / Juneau Empire)

Thunder Mountain sophomore Kerra Baxter runs through a jump as Falcons coach Dwayne Duskin and sister Cailynn Baxter check her mark during Falcons track practice Wednesday. (Klas Stolpe / Juneau Empire)

Another familiar athletic figure is in the oval is star senior football quarterback/corner, and wrestler, Jarrell Williams. He will be playing college football at Fairleigh Dickinson University.

“But football is not my dream,” Williams said. “My dream is to study criminal justice, and play football along the way, and hopefully become F.B.I. That is really what I am interested in, school first and athletics after.

Undersized for DI football Williams has persevered through heart, hard work and intelligence.

“I’ll be playing corner and wide receiver,” said Williams. “It’s OK. I’ve been playing football my whole life and track makes me faster. Football is a sport I love and the faster I am the better I am.”

He, classmates Lucas White and Jamal Johnson and sophomore Jayden Johnson have a chance to take the region title in the 4×100 and win state for the Falcons.

With the heat bearing down, Williams works on starts alone as he also did not skip.

“I’m dedicated,” said Williams. “I have a vision and I want to fulfill my goals.”

Williams laughs when talking about stupid things high school kids do and how his future career path is one of restrictions

“You know, when I leave, I am going to keep it closed-mouth over here,” he chuckled. “I am all about good decisions. I know that some people make mistakes. But I believe in second chances and I am all about the right decision. I am going to miss my friends because I grew up with them playing sports. I love the scenery of Alaska, gorgeous. I always go out the road and take in the views, I really cherish that.”

Williams hopes people remember him for being a good athlete, a playmaker on the field leading the Juneau Huskies to an undefeated conference record, a tough competitor, a good student.

“I couldn’t finish,” he said. “We fell in the championship. But, you know, we learn best from our defeats. And we come back from them.”

Crimson Bears under blue sky

The heat is just as stifling over at Adair-Kennedy Field for the Crimson Bears.

JDHS junior Etta Eller boasts a 5:11 mile for the girls and junior Edgar Vera-Alvarado has a 10:20 over 3200 meters for the boys.

Eller and classmates Maisy Morely and Rayna Tuckwood and freshman Kate Schwarting are within a second of breaking the 4×800 girls relay mark that has stood for over a decade.

“I think as an upperclassman it is significant because it is a symbol of how much the team has grown,” Eller said. “It’s a record for just a lot more than the four of us. It goes back classes and classes of people who have developed the track and field team. It is nice, in my last few years of high school, think that I can leave something for someone else to try and break one day.”

Tuckwood said it shows more than the record part of running.

“It shows the teamwork part of running,” she said. “So every single leg depends on the other legs. That is nice for different track teams to see, people working together.”

Schwarting also appreciates the team aspect.

“We definitely didn’t have this in our sites at the beginning of the season,” she said. “It is just working together to have a new goal.”

Added Morley: “It just shows our dedication. We’ve been working for this a really long time and working together just means a lot and it is very fun too.”

Morley will set the pace, but not too fast too early, Schwarting will keep the same energy for Tuckwood, and Tuckwood will hold the pace for Eller.

“I feel my job is pretty simple,” said Eller. “I just assess how the race is going by how my teammates hand it off to me. I think of myself as a chaser. Chasing down someone in front of me or a school record. Just running as hard as I can.”

feet up

Running is so ingrained in their minds that they often think in splits.

“Maisy will talk about running in every class,” said Eller. “She writes splits all through math class.”

Said Morley, “Yeah, we didn’t do so good on a math test today.”

Sitting in the midst of the four relayers Vera-Alvarado spoke of their impact.

“I didn’t realize, when I am running with them, how lucky I was,” he said. “I am running in practice with some of the fastest girls that have ever ran at JD. I feel inspired by their work and hope to one day be in a similar spot as them.”

Vera-Alvarado said track, and running, is a part of his life, something he does that helps him find a sense of community within the team.

“It feels good to just race,” he said. “To be in that moment. And to share it with like-minded friends.”

Sharing the practice field today is junior hurdler Cayden Johns, the favorite in the 110 and 300 meter hurdles. Also a top hockey player, he first used track as conditioning for the rink but this season wants a repeat.

“Last year I competed at state,” he said. “I hope to go again this year. And last week I tried 110 for the first time and won so I would like to go for that as well.”

Track also connects him in another way.

“I am a big family person,” he said. “And I just really like to be outside. I am not a big vocal person. I hope people see the work I put in to help the team.”

JDHS senior Tobin Montalbo and junior Wilder Dillingham are ranked in the state for sprints.

“Being part of a team is important,” Montalbo said. “This year I try to do what the seniors did for me last year. Help lead warmups, set up fun things to do, give out team awards every Monday, pick athlete of the meet. It has been very fun to come up the past four years and get to do all the things that everyone did for me… I think, until this year, most athletic stuff and music I did very quietly because I was super unconfident. This year I opened up to stuff. Track helped with that.

Montalbo will run track at Willamette University in the fall on a six-year law degree program.


“I think I would get bored not having to be part of something bigger than myself,” he said of collegiate track.

Of studying law Montalbo said, “I like leading people, public speaking and writing, that has kind of pointed me in the direction of public policy and law… I like listening to people and I am good at having people listen to me.”

He also enjoys playing the cello and hiking.

“I hope that people know I worked hard and can take me at face value,” he said. “And I really hope my family knows that I care about them.”

The Region V Track & Field Championships will be held this weekend at Thunder Mountain High School. Athletes compete from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.

JDHS, TMHS and Ketchikan compete in Division I, all other southeast schools compete in DII.

JDHS and TMHS senior athletes will be honored after Friday events. JDHS seniors are Kyle Dusenberry, Reece Dusenberry, Robbie Gabel and Tobin Montalbo (junior Hannah Brenner is graduating early). TMHS seniors are Chase Darbonne, Sadie Jenkins, Jamal Johnson, Aliyah Overturf, Justus Paden, Caleb Stiles, Mallory Welling, Lucas White, Michael Wittig and Jarrell Williams.

Among athletes to watch in the region championships are Boys /// Girls:

100 – Meters (Ketchikan sophomore Jason Lorig 11.07, JD so. Jayden Johnson 11.35, TM so. Finley Hightower 11.47 /// TM so. K. Baxter 13.38, TM C. Baxter 13.43, SIT fr. Adalyna Moore 13.50.

200 – JD sr. Montalbo 23.06, JD jr. Dillingham 23.31, KTN so. Lorig 23.48 /// TM jr. Loggy-Smith, SIT fr. Emma Heuer 28.25, HNS sr. Avari Getchell 28.38.

400 – JD jr. Dillingham 52.47, JD sr. Montalbo 53.12, KTN jr. Phoenix Boles 53.16 /// KTN so. Clara Odden 1:03.47, TM jr. Loggy-Smith 1:05.15, SIT so. Marina Dill 1:07.37, JD fr. Siena Farr 1:11.15.

800 – Haines sr. Luke Davis 2:06.63, Sitka so. Trey Demmert 2:07.78, JD so. Finn Lamb 2:08.07, JD jr. Leif St. Clair 2:10.37 /// SIT so. Mullin 2:29.13, JD fr. Schwarting 2:32.97, JD jr. Morley 2:34.17, SIT sr. Anna Prussian 2:34.37.

1600 – SIT sr. Silas Demmert 4:34.03, HNS sr. Luke Davis 4:43.44, SIT so. Connor Hitchcock 4:43.90, JD jr. Alvarado 4:46.97 /// SIT so. Mullin 5:22.57, JD so. Ida Meyer 5:27.10, SIT sr. Prussian 5:27.78, JD so. Pacific Ricke 5:32.42.

3200 – SIT sr. Demmert 10:00.70, SIT so. Hitchcock 10:10.96, SIT so Demmert 10:19.58, JD Jr. Alvarado 10:21.18 /// JD jr. Eller 11:21.62, JD so. Meyer 11:50.20, SIT sr. Prussian 11:52.33.

110 hurdles – KTN jr. Jared Rhoads 17.25, JD jr. Johns 17.31, SIT sr. David Davis 18.13 /// TM sr. Welling 16.43, KTN jr. Linnea Loretan 18.34, JD jr. Hannah Brennell 18.83.

300H – JD jr. Dillingham 43.24, JD jr. Johns 43.96, SIT sr. Davis 45.88 /// TM sr. Welling 49.66, KTN jr. Loretan 52.75, SIT fr. Natalie Hall 53.97.

Shot – KTN so. Trey Colbert 37’10, KTN sr. Tyler Mannypenny 37’4, TM jr Silvester Montez 37’.75, Yakutat so. Petersen Dylan 36’4.25 /// HNS jr. Gracie Stickler 29’8, GUS jr. Madeline Wagner 28’9, SIT sr. Kanen Alley-Jarquin.

Discus – HNS sr. Eric Gillham 127’2, Petersburg so. Erik Thyness 109’9, Gustavus sr. Kyler Zink 103’1, KTN jr. Rhoads 102’7 /// HNS so. Emma Dohrn, SIT sr. Jessica Christner 88’8, SIT sr. Alley-Jarquin.

High Jump – KTN so. Trey Colbert 5’8, SIT so. Rowan Olney-Miller 5’7, GUS fr. Phinly Patrick 5’6, SIT jr. Emilio Partido 5’6, TM sr. Darbonne 5’4 /// TM sr. Welling 5’0, KTN sr. Anneliese Hiatt 4’8, SIT fr. Heuer 4’8.

Long Jump – KTN so. Lorig 19’7.25, TM sr. Darbonne 19’6.5, PSG jr. Hendrik Cumps 19’3.25 /// TM so. C. Baxter 15’7.75, TM so. K. Baxter 15’3, SIT so. Mullin 15’1.

Triple Jump – TM sr. Darbonne 40’3.75, TM so. Quincy Malacas 38’6, KTN so Hunter Cowan 38’3 /// TM so. C. Baxter 32’5, TM so. K. Baxter 30.11, HNS sr. Mackenzie Dryden 28’8.

4×100 – TM 45.51, SIT 47.26, KTN 47.31, JD 48.41 /// SIT 56.31, TM 58.97, KTN 59.16.

4×200 – JD 1:35.72, SIT 1:38.50, KTN 1:40.00, HNS 1:40.62 /// TM 1:51.18, KTN 1:56.46, SIT 1:56.47.

4×400 – JD 3:42.88, SIT 3:46.54, HNS 3:47.41, KTN 3:48.53 /// SIT 4:25.75, JD 4:32.48, HNS 4:37.53.

4×800 – SIT 9:09.73, KTN 9:23.34, JD 9:47.09 /// JD 9:47.73, SIT 11:30.34, KTN 11:34.72.

Klas Stolpe / Juneau Empire
Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé juniors Etta Eller, Rayna Tuckwood, Edgar Vera Alvarado, freshman Kate Schwarting and junior Maisy Morley pose after practice Wednesday. The Region V Track & Field Championships are Friday and Saturday at Thunder Mountain High School.

Klas Stolpe / Juneau Empire Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé juniors Etta Eller, Rayna Tuckwood, Edgar Vera Alvarado, freshman Kate Schwarting and junior Maisy Morley pose after practice Wednesday. The Region V Track & Field Championships are Friday and Saturday at Thunder Mountain High School.

Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé senior Tobin Montalbo. (Klas Stolpe / Juneau Empire)

Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé senior Tobin Montalbo. (Klas Stolpe / Juneau Empire)

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