The Valdez Star - Serving Prince William Sound and Copper River Basin

By Tony Gorman
For the Star 

Small Valdez team rocks NYO state meet

Handful of veterans carry young but growing team of athletes


The Valdez Native Youth Olympics team was a smaller than past teams, but some of its experience members made big statements in Anchorage last week at the state meet.

Over 2,000 athletes competed in the two-day event.

“It was a good meet,” Valdez NYO coach Lea Cockerham said. “We weren’t expecting a whole lot because of our size and lack of experience. We had a couple of experienced athletes that carried the team.”

Shoney Ridderbush punctuated her NYO career by make several trips to the podium. The senior captain finished second in the wrist carry at 293 feet, 2.5 inches. She missed first place by just five feet. It was her first time medaling in the event since she won it as an eighth grader. Ridderbush also place fifth in the Two-Foot High Kick at 68 inches.

On the boys’ side, co-captain Nick Devens placed in multiple events. He tied for fourth place in the Alaska High Kick at 86 inches. He also finished Top Ten in the One-Foot High Kick and the Toe-Kick.

“He’s just an all-around NYO athlete,” Cockerham said of Devens. “He can do all of the events.”

Devens competed in the Arctic Winter Games and is expected to do it again. He will be competing in the Arctic Summer Games, a lead in competition.

In other results, Daniel Letendre also did well in the One-Hand Reach. Annie Kompkoff finished in the Top Ten in the Indian Stick Pull.

For only the second time in nine years, the Valdez squad missed out on the Gloria Walker Sportsmanship Award. The honor went to Dillingham this year.

Cockerham said the team was well-deserving this year.

“Dillingham did a great job this year,” he said. “They were able to do a lot of thing that we did in the past… We’re still doing the things we’ve always done. We didn’t have the impact we usually do.”

Cockerham is hoping next year’s numbers will increase on the team. A huge crop of athletes from the fifth and sixth grade squad are expected to fill the junior high and high school programs in the future.


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