The post-Coach Scott May era of Thunder Mountain track and field begins in earnest this weekend.
Led by their new coach Dwayne Duskin, the Falcons head today to the Ketchikan Invitational, the team’s first meet since their former coach retired last season on the heels of a career that spanned 18 years and featured an almost unbroken succession of Region V championships.
Now, it’s Duskin’s turn to make his mark on the program.
“I’m pretty nervous, honestly, but I have a good team of assistants with me and my team manager is helpful,” Duskin said of coaching in his first meet. “I think we’ll get through it.”
The Thunder Mountain boys look to regain Southeast bragging rights after losing to Ketchikan 68-67 at the Region V Meet last year. It was the Kayhi boys’ first Southeast championship since 1998 and snapped a six-year winning streak by the Falcons.
The boys squad will be tasked with filling the void left by state qualifiers Erick Whisenant (100 and 200-meter dash; 400-meter relay) and Josh McAndrews (400 and 800-meter run; 1600-meter relay).
Sophomore Ali Beya had a standout freshman campaign in the long and triple jumps, and looks to be an elite sprinter this year. The football and basketball player said he’s striving to set a new school record in the 100-meter dash, set in 2016 by Aidan Hildebrand (11.05 seconds).
“I’m feeling a lot faster,” Beya said at practice on Thursday. “I’ve been eating a lot more healthy foods, so I feel a little more energized and I’m just ready for the year. I feel more prepared than I was last year.”
Football players Gaven Smith and Puna Toutaiolepo will provide some depth in the shot put and discus events.
The girls squad will be gunning for their seventh-consecutive Region V championship, which they won handily last season over Juneau-Douglas, 95-65. State finalist Hannah Deer will lead a group of talented sprinters and hurdlers, like senior Audrey Welling, juniors Tzadi Hauck and Reece Bleakley and sophomore Iayanah Brewer.
“There’s a lot of competition which is great,” Hauck said. “I’m going to push myself and push the underclassmen. I expect to PR (personal record) this year and hopefully win regions and do good at state. That’s my goal.”
Thunder Mountain Track Schedule
April 19-20: Ketchikan Invitational
April 26-27: Sitka Invitational
May 3-4: Capital Invitational (Juneau)
May 10-11: Haines Invitational
May 17-18: Region V Meet (Juneau)
May 24-25: State Championships (Anchorage)
• Contact sports reporter Nolin Ainsworth at 523-2272 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Empire Sports on Twitter at @akempiresports.