VOCAL EXERCISES - Artist in the Schools instructor Sarah Branton of Cherry Creek, Colorado, leads an exercise in the Sitka High School band room this morning as she teaches students how to improve their volume. Branton will be here all week working with choirs at Blatchley Middle School and Sitka High. Her instruction is part of the effort to rebuild school  choir programs and numbers following the pandemic. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

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Daily Sitka Sentinel

Sitka High Wins State Track & Field Title


Sentinel Sports Editor

Racing against competitors from across Alaska, the Sitka High Lady Wolves track and field squad notched another state championship title Saturday in Palmer.

It was the second one for Sitka High in the last three years, and came on the heels of the Lady Wolves’ dominant performance at the Region V championship meet in Juneau a week earlier.

The SHS men’s team, meanwhile, placed second in the state championships.

Though this was only her second year running for the team, sophomore Clare Mullin swept the number one spots in the 800 meter race in 2:24, and the 1,600 in 5:21. Sitka athletes finished first, second and third in the 1,600 run, with senior Anna Prussian second in 5:34 and sophomore Marina Dill less than a second behind for third. Dill took second in the 800 as well.

Clare Mullin runs with the Alaska state flag after the state championship track meet, Saturday in Palmer. (Photo Provided)

Looking back on the meet, Mullin said she had high hopes going into her races.

“There was definitely an expectation that I would be in the running at least. Every year is different, but then just looking at the times that other people were putting down in the season, I definitely had a bigger lead as far as seed times… I met my expectations, at least for myself,” Mullin told the Sentinel on Tuesday.

The Lady Wolves’ four-by-800 team, which included Prussian, Jadelynn Kubik, Dill, and Jessica Christner, was first across the line in 10:43, and Sitka’s four-by-400 meter relay team of Prussian, Dill, Mullin and Kubik placed second in 4:19, coming in only a second behind Homer High.

The Lady Wolves won the state title in 2021, and were runners-up last year.

In individual events, Prussian finished first in the long 3,200 meter race in 12:12, which was 23 seconds ahead of second place Jayna Boonstra of Kenai Central.

“I knew that I just wanted to place as well as I could,” Prussian said. “And once I started the race, I kind of had a pretty good feeling of what I had to do, but it was a really solid finish.”

Sitka’s Aliyah Merculief was 14th in the two-mile event, while freshman Natalie Hall took fifth in the 300 meter hurdles. Sitka sprinters Deszerei Chong, Hayla Trigg, Gwen White and Adalyna Moore finished fourth in the four-by-100 relay in 54.23 seconds, and Chong, Emma Heuer, Moore and Natalie Hall earned second in the four-by-200 in 1:53.

Track coach Jeremy Strong was happy with the team’s performance.

“It was a good weekend,” he said. “I really felt like the kids represented the community of Sitka, the high school, their families, everybody, and the coaching staff, really well.”

He gave credit to the team’s strong senior leadership, which carried over from the Sitka teams in recent years.

“It says a lot about their work ethic, and the way they carry themselves,” he said. “The kids who were previously here, kids who have graduated and gone before in this group, had set a good tone of leadership and what’s expected to be able to perform at that level,” said Strong. “When you get good kids who are good listeners and good leaders, kids want to follow.”

In the triple jump, sophomore Ada Parker logged a personal best at 32 feet, 6.5 inches, which was also good for the state title in the event.

Her jump put her a full 8 inches ahead of second place Emilee Wilson of Kenai Central.

Parker qualified for the long jump with her 29-foot leap at the Region V tournament last week, the first time she had ever competed in the event. She said her initial training consisted of a handful of online videos.

“I watched the boys and some girls do it. And I was like, ‘OK, I still don’t understand this,”’ she said. “So I went on my phone, and I watched a couple of YouTube videos… And I ended up jumping a 29 on my first jump (at regions).” Before trying the triple jump she had trained for the high jump.

“Taking gold at state for an event I’ve never done before (this season) – it was kind of like a wake up call to me like, ‘Oh, I’ve been doing high jump for this long, and I’ve been working really hard on it and not going anywhere.’ But when I try something new, I win.”

Summing up the 2023 track season, Anna Prussian said she hopes the state title inspires Sitka athletes to continue improving.

“It was really exciting for everyone to be able to experience that, and hopefully it gets them really pumped up for next year so that they can go into that year trying to shoot for another team title,” she said. “But it was a really great way to end senior year.”

She will run cross country and track for Pacific Lutheran University in Seattle beginning in the fall.

“It’s going to be really different going to a bigger school with more competition, and just a bigger team dynamic,” she said. “But I’m really going to miss the close-knit group that we have here at Sitka High.”

Sitka’s Boys Second at State

Another just-graduated senior, Sitka distance runner Silas Demmert, said the Wolves went to state ready to race.

“I set myself up to be competitive this year at state and I feel the same way for the men’s team,” Demmert told the Sentinel over the phone. “And I think we went in expecting to have a tougher battle with those guys from central Alaska for sure. They brought it and I think we did too… Everybody there on the team this year was motivated to try to win and everybody had a super competitive mindset.”

In his own events against the best runners in Alaska, he placed fourth in the mile in 4:31, and fifth in the 2 mile in 9:47.  In the mile run Trey Demmert was seventh, Connor Hitchcock was eighth and Annan Weiland was tenth.

Hitchcock was right behind Silas Demmert in the 3,200, finishing sixth in 9:56.

Recalling his run in the 1,600, Demmert said he fell slightly behind early in the race, and pushed himself back into the competition in the third lap of the four-lap race.

“I surprised myself a little bit there, but I wanted to place well,” he said. “And you kind of think during a race you’re not just placing well for yourself or getting time for yourself, but you’re trying to score points for your team.”

Running in shorter events, senior Caleb Hutton completed the 100 meter dash in 11.84 seconds, placing fourth. Freshman Calder Prussian was 0.03 seconds behind him in fifth. Prussian was the top Sitka finisher in the 200 meter event, taking fifth in 23.70. Hutton took seventh and Dezi Olney-Miller finished eighth.

David Davis finished sixth in the 110 meter hurdles in 18.14 seconds, and Angelo Elefante ran the 300 meter hurdles in 46.70, taking seventh.

Caleb Hutton, Dezi Olney-Miller, Calder Prussian and Camden Young ran the four-by-200 meter relay together, finishing second in 1:37.

Crossing the line in 8:39, Dylan Crenna, Connor Hitchcock, James Helem and Annan Weiland won the championship title in the four-by-800.

Freshman Francis Myers added 6 inches to his personal best with the 39 foot, 8.75 inch leap that gave him second place in the triple jump.

“I did have a goal because at regionals, I was already third in the state and so I wanted to be ranked high at the very least. But second place was definitely outside of my expectations,” Myers said.

He said another goal was to break the Sitka High freshman record in the 400-yard run, “which I was able to do,” crossing the line at 55.03 seconds. He plans to go out for cross country in the fall, and at the same time keep training for the triple jump in track.

“I’m definitely going to stick with triple jump and continue working on that and continue getting new PRs because that’s one that I really enjoy,” he said.

Sitka High’s 34 athletes, including 10 seniors, represented a wide range of talent and experience at state.

“This team was deep with young talent, and also deep with seniors,” coach Strong said. “And so the senior leadership we’re going to miss tremendously, but we’re really excited about what the future holds for both boys and the girls squads.”

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At a Glance

(updated 9-12-2023)

By Sentinel Staff

The state Department of Health and Social Services has posted the following update on the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Alaska as of 8:57 a.m. Tuesday, September 12.

New cases as of Tuesday: 278

Total cases (cumulative) statewide – 301,513

Total (cumulative) deaths – 1,485

Case Rate per 100,000 – 38.14

To visit the Alaska DHSS Corona Response dashboard website click here.

COVID in Sitka

The Sitka community level is now "Low.'' Case statistics are as of Tuesday.

Case Rate/100,000 – 152.50

Cases in last 7 days – 13

Cumulative Sitka cases – 3,575

Deceased (cumulative) – 10

The local case data are from Alaska DHSS.






September 2003

Sitka Tribe of Alaska is “upset and disturbed” about the Senate appropriations bill that cuts spending for Alaska tribal courts, STA Vice Chairman Gil Truitt said today. He was referring to Sen. Ted Stevens’ move to divert Department of Justice grants from tribal courts and tribal police officers to fund the Village Public Safety Officer program.



September 1973

Photo caption: Receiving service pins at a Carpenters Union Local 466 dinner meeting at the Kiksadi Club were, from left, Arthur Littlefield, Alvin Helm, Harley Finch, Dave Gibson, Gerald Hughes, Fred Nelson, Walter Moy, Edward Nelson, William Sutton and Don Stromme.


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