Senior Naomi Welling works on hurdle drills at the Thunder Mountain High School track practice on Tuesday.

Senior Naomi Welling works on hurdle drills at the Thunder Mountain High School track practice on Tuesday.

TMHS track and field kicks off season

Thunder Mountain High School senior track and field captain Naomi Welling — a nine-time state track title winner — needed to beat Petersburg High School junior Izabelle Ith by three seconds in the final event to claim her third-straight pentathlon win at the Big C relays April 2 in Anchorage.

Neck and neck with Ith in the last 300 meters of the women’s 800-meter, Welling started her kick and broke away from her competitors to win by six seconds.

Welling’s finish at the Big C parallels the momentum TMHS track enjoys heading into their third-straight year with over 80 participants.

“On a school level our name as a track program is building,” Welling said. “People are coming to us, whereas when I was a freshman we were having to reach out to people. We’ve kind of made a name for ourselves during the time that I’ve been here.”

According to coach Scott May, the Falcons have exceeded a glut of personal bests already this year.

“We just met before practice today and we went over two pages of personal records they got since last Saturday,” May said. “We’re off to a great start. … Competitively we’re looking like we’re coming in where we left off last year.”

May, Welling and the Falcons feel they’re already stuffing the “piggy bank” full to the brim.

“The analogy is at the beginning of the season you start with a piggy bank,” Welling explained. “Your hard workouts and your good sleep and food choices, they fill up your piggy bank. Every once in a while it’s ok to take something out with an unhealthy snack or you stay out late or something, but you don’t want to drain that. On the big day you can cash in your piggy bank and do really good.”

Senior sprinting captain Sam Johnson, whose men’s 4×100 meter relay team placed second at the Big C, described the championship-level talent the boys have in short distance competition.

“We have some really good starts, like Adam Ramsey. Aiden (Hildebrand), of course, is one of the tops in state,” Johnson explained. “He just showed up last year and beat us all in practice. We were all really confused and he ended up going to state and got the second-fastest time last year. John (Somerlot), he’s pretty fast too. We’re all in the relays together. And then Luke (Paden), he did distance before and moved over to sprints because he figured out he was pretty fast. He’s our top 200 and 400 runner right now.”

TMHS is one of several unified teams across the state. The designation means the team has special olympics participants competing in several events alongside the rest of the team.

Senior Andrew Degroat and sophomore Will Weinlaeder compete in the unified 4×100 meter relay and the 100-meter dash.

“In my first year ever of doing track, in the 4×100 relay my team got first place,” Weinlaeder said, speaking of last year’s ASAA state championships. The sophomore is known around the team — and the school — for an inspirational speech he gave before the state meet last year.

“Your team kind of becomes your second school,” Weinlaeder said.

Degroat couldn’t agree more.

“When I first moved here, which was my freshman year, I didn’t like it,” he said. “But then when I came here, doing track, I started liking it, the team became family.”

TMHS holds an informal meet this weekend with Juneau-Douglas High School at Adair-Kennedy Memorial Park. TMHS’ next official meet is at Ketchikan High School April 22 -23.

After a meet at Sitka High School on April 29-30, TMHS holds their first home meet May 6-7. Regional championships take place at TMHS this year May 20-21.

Junior Aly Heaton works off the blocks at Thunder Mountain High School track practice on Tuesday.

Junior Aly Heaton works off the blocks at Thunder Mountain High School track practice on Tuesday.

Sophmore Mikayla May, left, and senior Eva Tompkins practice their baton handoff during the Thunder Mountain High School track practice on Tuesday.

Sophmore Mikayla May, left, and senior Eva Tompkins practice their baton handoff during the Thunder Mountain High School track practice on Tuesday.

More in Sports

Lydia Jacoby, Alaska’s gold-medal swimmer, announced Tuesday she is withdrawing from the U.S. Olympic Trials. (Alaska Sports Report photo)
P.J. Foy fails to advance, Lydia Jacoby withdraws from U.S. Olympic swimming trials

First-ever Juneau swimmer to compete in trials finishes 49th among 61 competitors Friday.

Trout Unlimited's Matt Boline holds a container with coho fry for official documentation of anadromous fish use in an unnamed creek in the vicinity of Juneau. (Photo by Jeff Lund)
I Went to the Woods: Survey says…

Our floatplane cleared the notch in the snowy ridge then turned slightly… Continue reading

Juneau’s PJ Foy, shown winning the 2023 100 yard butterfly in 48.27 for Thunder Mountain High School during the ASAA state championships at the Dimond Park Aquatics Center on Nov. 4, 2023, qualified for the 2024 June Olympic Team Trials by swimming a 100 long course meters butterfly in a personal best 53.44 on March 16, 2024, at the Speedo Sectionals in Federal Way, Washington. (Klas Stolpe / Juneau Empire file photo)
Alaskans secure spots at 2024 Olympics; Juneau swimmer PJ Foy will try for his spot on Friday

TMHS graduate seeking to qualify in 100-meter butterfly at U.S. Olympic Team Trials.

At least one female wood duck has invented a novel feeding technique. (Photo by Bob Armstrong)
On the Trails: Wood ducks, redstarts, yellowlegs and flowers

Mid-June, and a few days ago we saw a wood duck with… Continue reading

Competitors in the AlaskAcross 2024 race prepare to depart from Eagle Summit at 10 a.m. on June 8, 2024. From left are Bruno Grunau, Mark Ross, Forest Wagner, Mike Fisher, Sarah Hurkett, Clinton Brown, Tracie Curry and Curtis Henry. (Photo by Ned Rozell)
Alaska Science Forum: Journey through a sub-Arctic summer night

“You guys are the result of thousands of years of selection,” Fran… Continue reading

Barn swallows firmly attach their nests to walls, so they support the weight of nestlings and visiting adults.  (Photo by Bob Amrstrong)
On the Trails: Spring to summer

Spring temperatures were cool this year, but the lengthening days gave birds… Continue reading

In the spirit of Dolly Parton’s country music roots, race participant Mendenhall River Community School Principal Eric Filardi runs in costume with young Lucy Vogel wearing heart-shaped sunglasses as they enjoy the sunny Saturday weather on the Airport Dike Trail race course. About 85 runners participated, many wearing pearls and pink hats provided at the starting tent. (Laurie Craig / Juneau Empire)
Busting out the pink and pearls at the first Dolly Dash

Dolly Parton-inspired fun run raises funds for free books for kids.

A cruise ship makes its way through early morning fog last summer. The passengers who have been arriving lately have not been experiencing similar tranquility. (Photo by Jeff Lund)
I Went to the Woods: Racing the weather

Daylight is unstoppable this time of year. Not like up in the… Continue reading

People often use sea ice, as seen here off Alaska’s northern coast outside the town of Utqiagvik, for travelling. (Photo by Ned Rozell)
Alaska Science Forum: Did sea ice help populate the Americas?

Human footprints preserved in mud at White Sands National Park in New… Continue reading

Brown-headed cowbirds are professional egg-dumpers, always parasitizing the nests of other species. (CC BY 2.0 public domain photo).
On the Trails: Egg dumping behavior

Egg-dumping refers to the behavior of a female who puts her eggs… Continue reading

Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé’s Landon Simonson is greeted at home after hitting a grand slam on Friday during the Division I Alaska School Activities Association Baseball State Championships in Anchorage. (Stephanie Burgoon/Alaska Sports Report)
JDHS baseball, TMHS softball teams make it to final day of state tournaments

Crimson Bears play for consolation title after grand slam win Friday; Falcons still in title hunt

Members of the Thunder Mountain High School softball team pose for a shot following their 18-0 victory against North Pole High School on Friday during the Division II Alaska School Activities Association Softball State Championships in Fairbanks. (Thunder Mountain Softball photo)
Final flight of the TMHS Falcons ends with 6-4 loss on final day of state softball tournament

“It’s been a fun ride,” coach says as team wins conference title, goes 29-12 during its final season.