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37th annual All-Island Track Meet: The perfect day for a race
They donned face paint, colored their hair and made colorful signs. Screaming and cheering on their friends and classmates, students from all three Mercer Island elementary schools came together Friday afternoon at the Mercer Island High School stadium for the 37th annual All-Island Track Meet.
“My favorite part is definitely watching each school compete for the Spirit Award,” said organizer Kirk Willms of the Mercer Island Parks and Recreation department. “They do this by cheering for their classmates and making cheers, as well as, wearing their designated school colors.”
The colors were out in force: The Island Park Eagles in blue, the West Mercer Wolves in gray and the Lakeridge Lions in yellow. More than 160 kids participated in several different events but all the kids cheered on their classmates.
The individual performances get lost in the fun of the moment as the students get, for some, their first chance to compete in athletics.
“I’d like them to associate athletics with health and having fun,” said West Mercer coach Casey Alin, whose team won the meet for the second consecutive year. “I want them to learn that if you work hard for something, you’ll find success.”
With all the kids concentrating on cheering for their teammates, it is a challenge for coaches and officials to find the right student for their race and get them there on time.
“It is borderline impossible to keep things straight,” said Alin.
The Wolves scored 332 points, while Island Park (236) narrowly edged Lakeridge (233) for second place. The Spirit Award went to Island Park.
“This is such a fun event for everyone involved and creates some great opportunities for the participants to encounter positive competition and sportsmanship,” said Willms, who was one of 30 volunteers and Parks department employees working as officials for the huge event. “There is definitely a history with this program that the city works with each of the elementary schools to maintain.”
The event, which has had its share of rain and heat in recent years, received neither Friday.
“It’s not too hot and not too cold,” said Island Park coach Jesse Jaramillo. “It’s pretty wonderful.”
With 37 years of participants, records are hard to come by during the meet. Eric Schulz, a fifth grader from West Mercer, was the lone record-setter this year, completing the 400-meter run in 1:04.85. Schulz also took first in the 50-meters (7.09) and the 100-meters (13.94).
Nannette Bassett cheered on her daughter Emily, a fifth grader at Lakeridge, as she took first place in three separate races.
“On a scale of one to 10, this is a 10,” said Nannette Bassett. “It is great for self esteem and it is so good for these kids to get outside and have some fun.”
Emily took first in the 50-meters (7.15), 100-meters (13.04) and in the shotput (8.04-meters). Emily said that her full-time sport helped in her training: “I am on a soccer team and I run a lot. It felt good to win.”
Four students took two first-place finishes. Carly Ledbetter of Island Park took first in the fourth grade 100-meters (15.72) and 200-meters (32:31). Nathan Gallatin, a fourth grader from West Mercer, took first in the 100-meters (15.28) and 200-meters (31:50). Julia Blumenstein, of Lakeridge took first in the fourth grade softball throw (32.6 meters) and the shotput (6.89). George Pallis, of West Mercer, took first in the fourth grade shotput (7.45 meters) and the softball throw (40.1 meters).
The 50-meter run at the fourth grade level was won by Delany Clark (West Mercer) for the girls (7.87) and Island Park’s Johnathan Monson (7.78) for the boys. Fifth grader Suri Johnson of West Mercer took first in the 400-meters with a time of 1:12.25.
Team was the name of the game in the 4 x100 meter relays, where boys and girls raced together. West Mercer, with team members Hailey Kerlin, Will Mansfield, Ashlyn Reid, Michael Krebs won the fourth-grade event with a time of 1:04.65. The fifth-grade run went to the team of Molly Azose, Zach Lane, McKenzie Krause, Ethan Vu of Island Park, taking first with a time of 1:00.75.
“We had a ton of kids this year,” said Jaramillo, who is in his seventh year as a coach. “This thing has grown exponentially.”
The girls standing long jump event was swept by Lakeridge as Olivia Snell won the fourth-grade event (1.83 meters) and Maura Redmond (1.96) took the fifth-grade title. On the boys side, Trevor Gullstad of West Mercer took first for fourth graders with 1.89 meters, while Vu won the fifth grade event (2.19 meters).
In the softball throw, Makenna Pellerin of Lakeridge won with a distance of 38.7 meters, and Kalen Hopkins of Island Park took the fifth-grade event (45.3 meters).
Island Park student Josh Martin won the fifth-grade shotput with a distance of 10.6 meters.
“I got a lot of pointers from my dad,” said Martin.
When he received his award, his classmates showed their respect by bowing at his feet.
”They did that last year, too,” said Martin. “It feels really good.”