Members of the Thunder Mountain High School track and field team practice at TMHS on Thursday, April 13, 2017. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Members of the Thunder Mountain High School track and field team practice at TMHS on Thursday, April 13, 2017. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Falcons upperclassmen shine in first track meet

The Thunder Mountain High School upperclassmen and Juneau-Douglas High School underclassmen excelled in the Ketchikan Invitational this past weekend. The invitational was the first official meet of the high school season, now in full-swing with meets every coming weekend until the end of May.

Both teams head to Sitka this weekend for the Sitka Invitational before TMHS hosts the Capital City Invite May 5-6 in Juneau.

The TMHS boys (164 points) and Petersburg girls (155 points) won their respective sides in the meet. The Falcons scored big in the sprints and relays despite missing senior Aiden Hildebrand, the only returner on last year’s state champion-winning 4×100-meter relay team. Hildebrand is expected to join the team after the cheer season concludes.

The Falcon boys won every relay in the meet while the TMHS girls won all but one of the relays they competed in (4×200).

TMHS junior Erick Whisenant ran a breakout meet, helping both the 4×100 and 4×200 relays to first place while also winning his individual events in the 100 and 200-meter dash. He finished the 100-meter dash in 11.71 seconds and 200-meter dash in 23.85 seconds.

“It was so amazing, honestly,” Whisenant said at practice Monday evening at TMHS. “I felt so good, I was so excited. I don’t think I’ve ever gotten first but this week, it was like, ‘Yeah, this is my year.’”

Whisenant is thrilled to be one of the three replacements on last year’s state championship-winning 4×100 team.

“I finally get to be part of this relay whose actually really, really good. Heck yeah, I’ve been waiting three years for this,” Whisenant said.

Other TMHS upperclassmen with first or second-place individual finishes included: Erin Wallace (800, 1600, 3200) Garth Tupou (discus, shot put), Gabe Crawford (triple and long jump, 110 hurdles), Jonah Penrose (1600), Ally Heaton (100) and Alvin Ailey (400, high jump).

Ailey, a newcomer to TMHS with high-jumping experience in Oregon, suprised himself in the 400 meter.

“I was really suprised by the 400 [win] because in the prelims I had gotten third,” Ailey said. “It’s one of my favorite events, but not my best,” Ailey said.

Juneau-Douglas finished fourth and fifth respectively in the team scores, not bad for the small but potent batch of 23 Crimson Bears that competed at the Ketchikan Invite.

The boys and girls 1600 meter races best highlighted the youth and speed of JDHS.

Reigning Gatorade State Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year and JDHS freshman Sadie Tuckwood won the 1600 meter in 5 minutes, 33 seconds. Finishing less than 20 seconds behind Tuckwood was JDHS’ Anna Iverson, good for third place.

On the boys side, sophomore Arne Ellefson-Carnes finished second in the 1600. Ellefson-Carnes clocked in at 4 minutes, 56 seconds. Shadrach Stitz finished sixth in the 1600 — eight seconds and four spots behind Ellefson-Carnes — proving just how tight of a race it was.

“All athletes are showing potential for a fantastic season, as their times, throws, and jumps are at or just below where they ended the season last year,” JDHS track coach Janette Gagnon said.

If anyone is interested in helping out at the Capital City invitational May 5-6 or Region V Championships May 19-20, please contact Scott May at 790-4544.


Girls team scores

Petersburg – 155

Sitka – 147

Thunder Mountain – 91

Juneau-Douglas – 58

Ketchikan – 29

Gustavus – 16

Boys team scores

Thunder Mountain – 164

Sitka/Ketchikan – 116

Petersburg – 60

Haines – 28

Juneau-Douglas – 21

Thorne Bay – 13



• Contact sports reporter Nolin Ainsworth at 523-2272 or



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