Middle schoolers sprint into track season

Wednesday, April 18, 2012 - 22:26
MLMS, Gruening open season indoors
Mirror Lake’s Gage Mercer, left, and Gruening’s Dagan Mullins run the 1,600 during a dual meet April 12 at The Dome.

A crowded field of 300 middle school students competed in a track meet at The Dome on April 12 — and only Mirror Lake and Gruening were in attendance. 

The Coyotes have a whopping 190 track and field athletes out this season. That’s slightly above average, according to head coach Mitchell Tarter. But, he said, the large turnout was a shock given the more than 11 feet of snow the Anchorage area received this winter. 

“We didn’t expect these numbers with the snowfall we’ve had,” Tarter said. 

One of Tarter’s biggest challenges is ensuring every athlete participates in an event. 

“That’s why we see 43 in an 800 [meter] event,” he said. 

Thursday’s meet was the first for both middle schools. Mirror Lake won the meet 246-136. Isaiah Caspers led the Coyotes with first-place finishes in the boys’ seventh-grade 100-meter dash, 200 and long jump. Mirror Lake’s Haley Scott led the eighth-grade girls with wins in the 100, 200 and 400. 

For full results, visit http://web.me.com/kehle/Track_Results_2012/Gr,_ML.html. 

Eighth-grader Ty Jordan is one of Mirror Lake’s strongest returners, and one of a few veterans for the Coyotes, Tarter said. 

Jordan won the 2011 Anchorage School District middle school cross country city championships and placed first in the 1,600-meter run as a seventh-grader in the ASD middle school track and field city championships.

“We’re pretty encouraged,” Tarter said. “We do have some strong kids.” 

Tarter said Mirror Lake has practiced outside and portions of the school’s track are now visible. All of Mirror Lake’s meets are scheduled for The Dome, but Tarter is hoping to compete outside this season. 

The Coyotes also competed in a dual against Mears on Tuesday, April 17. 

Across town, Gruening has 98 kids on its team, head coach Jason Wall said. 

“This year is more average,” Wall said. 

While Thursday’s meet served as Gruening’s first competition, Wall said it was also the first time many of the Colts had ever raced on a track — and tensions were high. 

“At the least, I wanted them to relax and have fun,” Wall said. “They’re so tense.” 

Gruening had only gone on one distance run outdoors prior to the meet, Wall said. 

“We’ve been in the halls,” he said. 

Wall said one of his goals is for every athlete to give 100 percent at all times.  

“I want to have every kid finish what they start with a great effort,” he said. 

The entire Colts team has been receptive to the coaching staff, Wall said. 

“They listen really well,” he said. “We’ve got a great group of kids.” 

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