West High's one-year wonder dominates girls shot put to highlight Day 1 of state track and field championships

May 25—Before her senior year, recent West Anchorage high school graduate Navaeh Toleafoa had never competed in track and field.

But after some encouragement from her basketball and flag football coaches, Toleafoa decided to try it out on a whim and not only fell in love with throwing but became a natural in no time.

She proceeded to dominate in both shot put and discus all season long and continued that trend at state in the Division I girls finals on Friday at Dimond High. Toleafoa was the only female thrower to surpass 40 feet in the shot put with a new personal best of 41 feet, 9 inches to be crowned champion.

"It feels really nice because I wasn't expecting it," she said. "I started this as something to try out and I didn't expect to love it but actually do love it."

Even though Toleafoa competes and excels in both throwing competitions, her favorite is the shot put. Once she started the sport, she began training every day from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. except on Saturdays, when she has church.

She hopes to continue throwing after high school because it is fun and therapeutic.

"I find peace when I do it," Toleafoa said. "It's really relaxing and if you have a lot of anger built up, this is definitely the sport for you because you use a lot of your strength, you grunt, you make noise and get to throw as far as you can."

Service senior soars to new personal heights in boys high jump

With a first name like Phoenix, the mythological flame bird that rises from the ashes, and being born with red hair to boot, recent Service High class of 2024 graduate, Phoenix Perkins was seemingly destined to succeed where he had come up short the year before in the Division I boys high jump finals at state.

Last year, he came in second to West Valley's Alex Emers, but this time he finished atop the podium when the two faced off. Perkins did so by clearing a new personal best record of 6 feet, 4 inches to claim first place in the final competition of his prep career.

"It feels pretty good because I lost last year to the same dude just by a little bit, and we had good competition this year and I barely scraped by," Perkins said. "It's a really friendly environment, great competition to jump against. We're all cheering each other on but it's nice to win this year."

To go out on top as a senior is an "awesome" feeling for him after coming so close as a junior. He began his prep career competing in Hawaii as a freshman but became a Cougar when his parents retired from the military and moved to Alaska. His post-high school plans are to attend Duke University where he intends to walk on for their track and field program and major in mechanical engineering.

Sitka junior continues to add to impressive endurance running resume

Clare Mullin came into this year's Division II state having already captured six individual titles between track and field and cross country and claimed her seventh with ease as she not only won the girls 3,200 for the second time with a first-place mark of 11:19.51 but she was so fast that she lapped the seventh and eighth place finishers before crossing the finish line.

"Looking at the seed times, I knew that'd I be competing against myself so it feels good to just know that I could push myself," she said. "I didn't want to just give it half my effort. I wanted to show people the work that I put in all season."

Her teammate, Marina Dill, wasn't too far behind and also ran into lap traffic on the final stretch to claim second place.

"We do all of our easy runs together," Mullin said. "This was my first time running (at state) with Marina so that was pretty special for me."

Even though she was heavily favored to win, Mullin admitted to still experiencing the usually pre-race doubts but overcame them by just putting forth her best effort. To be a multi-time champion in endurance races puts her in elite company alongside some athletes she looked up to as a younger runner.

"My name is right next to them so that means a lot and it's really empowering to have my name being something that someone else is looking up to and pushing them to run faster," Mullin said.

As a freshman in 2022, she won the 800, 1,600 and 3,200 meter races and was on the 4x4 400-meter relay team that finished first. As a sophomore, she won the 800 and 1,600 and in the fall of her junior year, she won the girls Division II cross-country state title.

Juneau-Douglas senior emptied the tank to claim first individual state title

For the first time since 2021, a program other than Chugiak had a representative claim the top spot in the Division I girls 3200 race. With a powerful finish on her final lap where she overtook her teammate, Ida Meyer, Juneau-Douglas senior Etta Eller recorded a personal best time of 11:09.22 to win the event and claim her first solo state title.

"I'm just so happy and really grateful I guess would be the best way to describe it," she said. "I've been here for four years and I look at all the records and all the runners that have passed through and each one really inspiring to me."

Through the first half of the race, both Eller and Meyer trailed Chugiak's Hannah Shaha, who bested both at the state cross-country meet.

"The phrase that was going through my head was actually 'More faith, more faith, more faith' the entire race," she said. "I had faith in myself and my teammate and we wanted to go one-two in this race because we've been working together all season."

About halfway through her final lap is when Eller found an extra gear and completely emptied her tank to pass Meyer, who was the top seed entering the race and came in second with a mark of 11:12.79.

"I was smiling as I was coming down the last stretch because I could hear her and she was pushing me and I was pushing her," she said. "We were working symbiotically and that is invaluable."

After what she described as a "rough fall" semester that saw her finish in 10th place in the Division I state cross country race, Eller spent all winter training and practicing habits that would sustain her better for longer races in the spring and beyond in college.

"I've learned a lot about running in a way that fosters joy and makes me faster," she said.

Eller is committed to competing at Western Colorado University in Gunnison, Colorado.

The 2024 Division I and II state track and field championships will conclude on Saturday at Dimond High School starting with the final round of field events at 9 a.m. (triple jump, girls discus, boys shot put). The finals for the running and hurdling events beginning at 10:30 a.m. and will go until 6:05 p.m.

2024 ASAA state track and field championships

Division I


3200 Meters Varsity — Finals

1. Etta Eller 11:09.22, Juneau-Douglas

2. Ida Meyer 11:12.79, Juneau-Douglas

3. Ella Hopkins 11:21.59, Colony

4. Hannah Shaha 11:27.17, Chugiak

5. Elizabeth Page 11:29.24, South

6. Madeleine Lojewski 11:39.75, East

7. Miyana Kam-Magruder 11:49.37, Service

8. Aubrey Virgin 11:55.08, Colony

9. Finn Rigby 12:05.43, East

10. Kathryn DeBardelaben 12:13.30, Soldotna

11. Abigail Harver 12:15.06, Kodiak

12. Allison Macy 12:16.85, Chugiak

13. Tania Boonstra 12:19.59, Soldotna

14. Alise Elliott 12:27.57, South

15. Kyra Walter 12:30.98, Chugiak

Shot Put — 4kg Varsity — Finals

1. Leileanah Toleafoa 41′09.00, West

2. Abby Pettit 34′06.50, Palmer

3. Meg Roberts 34′00.50, Soldotna

4. Josephine Mata 33′10.50, West

5. Mona Koko 33′07.50, West

6. Ailafo Fautanu 32′04.50, Dimond

7. Loseli Ofiu 32′00.50, Chugiak

8. Liberty Lobe 29′04.50, South

High Jump Varsity — Finals

1. Nevaeh Watkins 5′4.00, Dimond

2. Ruby Tansy 5′0.00, Lathrop

3. Rachael White 4′10.00, South

4. Kayla Cagle 4′10.00, South

5. Avery Johnson 4′8.00,Palmer

5. Malia Matthews 4′8.00, Colony

5. Jase Emerson 4′8.00, Service

8. Hannah Bodkin 4′8.00, Chugiak

9. Patricia Ferran 4′8.00, Service

10. Emily Moore 4′8.00, Chugiak

11. Halie Sandstrom 4′6.00, Colony

Long Jump Varsity — Finals

1. Sarah Dittman 17′07.25, Dimond

2. Makaylen King 17′04.75, South

3. Samantha Jensen 16′06.00, Chugiak

4. Havilah Walker 16′05.75, Lathrop

5. Maya Tirpack 16′01.75, South

6. Isabella Pederson 16′01.00, Eagle River

7. McKinley Hafen 15′04.00, Wasilla

8. Finley Moffett 15′03.75, Chugiak


3200 Meters Varsity — Finals

1. Tobias Buchanan 9:28.01, Colony

2. Vebjorn Flagstad 9:33.03, South

3. Owen Hayes 9:44.68, Chugiak

4. Jaxon Henrie 9:46.74, South

5. Blaise Boyer 9:50.43, South

6. Parker Larson 9:54.83, Chugiak

7. Edgar Jesus Vera 9:55.48, Juneau-Douglas

8. Cirdan Vonnahme 9:56.37, West Valley

9. Katahdin Staples 10:00.65, East

10. Elias Oswald 10:01.16, Service

11. David Penfield 10:02.76, Chugiak

12. Nicholas Hecht 10:05.67, West Valley

13. Ruben Rhodes 10:08.46, West

14. Erik Thompson 10:12.55, Thunder Mountain

15. Gabriel Carey 10:34.74, Wasilla

Discus — 1.6kg Varsity — Finals

1. Pusa Lilo 150′03.00, East

2. George Lane 147′00.00, East

3. Kenton Phelps 146′11.00, Colony

4. Andrew Richardson 142′06.00, Colony

5. Ethan McNulty 138′10.00, Colony

6. Deuce Alailefaleula 136′08.00, Bartlett

7. Aaron Lotu-Muaava 134′05.00, East

8. Benjemin Holladay 134′01.00, Colony

High Jump Varsity — Finals

1. Phoenix Perkins 6′4.00, Service

2. Alex Emers 6′3.00, West Valley

3. Emanuel Bostwick 6′0.00, West Valley

3. Trey Colbert 6′0.00, Ketchikan

5. Barak Wagle 5′6.00, Wasilla

Long Jump Varsity — Finals

1. A'Lante Owens-Player 22′05.75, Bartlett

2. Wilson Lawson 21′06.75, Lathrop

3. Tyler Drake 21′04.50, Bartlett

4. Cooper Scherffius, 21′01.00, Chugiak

5. Isaiah Douyon 21′00.75, South

6. Jason Lorig 20′10.00, Ketchikan

7. Marquez Nevitte 20′09.75, Bartlett

8. Jai Jordan 20′00.75, Bartlett

Division II


3200 Meters Varsity — Finals

1. Clare Mullin 11:19.51, Sitka

2. Marina Dill 11:43.72, Sitka

3. Iris Haas 11:58.98, Delta Junction

4. Hailey Ingalls 12:20.37, Seward

5. Sydney Mondeel 12:24.24, Grace Christian

6. Claira Booz 12:36.64, Homer

7. Katie Van Buskirk 12:37.60, Seward

8. Juniper Ingalls 12:39.63, Seward

9. Saydi Cardoso 12:40.55, Redington

10. Selah Brueckner 12:42.73, Seward

11. Aliyah Merculief 12:46.76, Sitka

12. Faith Carter 12:52.36,Mountain City Christian

13. Miranda Wilkerson 12:54.64, Monroe Catholic

14. Jaela Marchbanks 13:23.31, Homer

15. Lauren Kingstrom, 13:48.90, Nome-Beltz

Shot Put — 4kg Varsity — Finals

1. Jieaya Siatini 39′07.00, Mountain City Christian

2. Emma Beck 36′06.00, Kenai Central

3. Madeline Wagner 33′08.00, Gustavus

4. Gracie Stickler 31′08.50, Haines

5. Brook Lentfer 30′06.50, Grace Christian

6. Auden Cress 30′06.25, Homer

7. Elise Brady 30′01.00, Sitka

8. Esmé Wilder 29′05.25, Seward

High Jump Varsity — Finals

1. Emma Walsh 5′0.00, Monroe Catholic

2. Brightly Thoning 4′10.00, Homer

2. Mya Campbell 4′10.00, Redington

4. Robin Cronin 4′8.00, Seward

5. Ellie VanDeventer 4′8.00, Tri-Valley

6. Jessie Wentworth 4′6.00, Su Valley

7. Emma Heuer 4′4.00, Sitka

7. Abby Sampson 4′4.00, Hutchison

9. Jaelynn Kennon 4′4.00, Homer

10. Olive Welch 4′4.00, Sitka

Long Jump Varsity — Finals

1. Mya Campbell 17′02.00, Redington

2. Izzy Kizer 16′04.00, Valdez

3. Hope Jackson 15′06.00, Grace Christian

4. Emma Walsh 15′03.25, Monroe Catholic

5. Teslin Brannan 15′02.00, Ben Eielson

6. Caroline Klebs 14′10.75, Grace Christian

7. Sophia Dickson 14′10.00, Houston

8. Robin Cronin 14′08.75, Seward


3200 Meters Varsity — Finals

1. Robbie Annett 9:29.28, Grace Christian

2. Colton Merriner 9:31.22, Grace Christian

3. Connor Hitchcock 9:32.12, Sitka

4. Ned Peters 10:05.31, Bethel

5. Preston Kopp 0:05.38, Mountain City Christian

6. Rafe Caruthers 10:10.87, Valdez

7. Johannes Bynagle 10:12.58, Homer

8. James Fox 10:33.71, Delta Junction

9. Alexander VanMeter 10:39.33, Homer

10. Andrew Severs 10:39.49, Glennallen

11. Anthony White 10:46.59, Delta Junction

12. Chase Laker 10:48.47, Kenai Central

13. Easton Roads 10:55.75, Grace Christian

14. Andrew Pounds 10:57.00, Grace Christian

15. Andrew Hansen 11:00.65, Haines

16. Royce Rock 11:17.65, Grace Christian

Discus — 1.6kg Varsity — Finals

1. William Roberts 133′09.00, Kenai Central

2. Kenny Larsen 128′03.00, Tri-Valley

3. Erik Thynes 126′10.00, Petersburg

4. Reid Williams 113′08.00, Tri-Valley

5. JC Davis 111′00.00, Haines

6. Truit McCaughey 109′07.00, Nikiski

7. Kellen Jedlicka 107′01.00, Grace Christian

8. Emerson Cross 105′05.00, Seward

High Jump Varsity — Finals

1. Hayden Hughes 5′10.00, Kenai Central

2. Austin Barnard 5′8.00, Su Valley

3. Nickolas Ambrosiani 5′8.00, Seward

4. Myles Campbell 5′6.00, Redington

4. Rowan Olney-Miller 5′6.00, Sitka

4. Olin Liljemark 5′6.00, Seward

4.Zane Robinson 5′6.00, Hutchison

8. Phoenix Swaner 5′6.00, Haines

9. Thayne Quiner 5′4.00, Nikiski

Long Jump Varsity — Finals

1. Jaidhen Oyao 19′10.25, Mountain City Christian

2. Hayden Hughes 19′07.00, Kenai Central

3. Hendrik Cumps 18′10.25, Petersburg

4. Cole McLaughlin 18′09.25, Sitka

5. Ashton Clarkson 18′06.75, Grace Christian

6. Myles Campbell 18′02.50, Redington

7. Jacob Shockey 18′02.00, Su Valley

8. Thayne Quiner 17′11.00, Nikiski