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

Bill Johnson for Alaska House

By Tony Gorman
For the Star 

Native Youth Olympics will feature mini-meet in Valdez later this week

Top finishers will compete in Anchorage at the statewide meet under Rod Morrison

 

April 11, 2018

Tony Gorman photo

Athletes are in practice for the Native Youth Olympics, which will hold the Valdez Mini-Meet this week.

The Valdez Native Youth Olympics team is alive and kicking this season.

The team has been practicing for the last several weeks in preparations of the Valdez Mini-Meet and the State Meet the following week. Rod Morrison returns as head coach the team following a four-year hiatus. Under his leadership, athletes have went on to set numerous records and display good sportsmanship at the State Meet.

"I'm excited to be part of the team this year," Morrison said. "We've got several kids from last year that we're expecting big events out of this year."

During Morrison's four years away, the number of participants dropped. When he last coached, team consisted of 45 members. Last year, that number was ten. This year's there are 30 high school and middle school members. Former Valdez NYO athletes Charles and Chelsea Selanoff have returned to help the team. Chelsea placed fourth in the seal hop at the State Meet. The team is also using yoga as part of their preparations. Assistant coach Betty McIntosh has been educating the team on the cultural aspects of the event.

"Part of our goals is to have a cultural appreciation for NYO," Morrison said.

Under Morrison the team won the Gloria Walker Award for Team Sportsmanship for five year in a row at the State Meet.

"A lot of that is to get our athletes to appreciate the true sportsmanship of the event...so, that's a goal this year is to get back on that sportsmanship award."

Tony Gorman photo

The Native Youth Olympics teach athletes traditional skills.

Among the top returners to this year's team is Dakota Brown, who recently competed in this year's Arctic Winter Games. He competed in multiple events. His best finishes were 5th place in the two-foot high kick and the sledge jump. Ben Kompkoff is back to compete in the one-foot high kick. On the girls' side, Katyln Mohn will be competing in the kicking events.

In order to compete in the State Meet, athletes have to qualify in the Valdez Mini-Meet. This year, there will be two teams entered from Valdez. One will consists of high schoolers, the other will be middle schoolers. The top finishers from each event will represent Valdez at the State Meet. In the past there have been middle schoolers who have outperformed high schoolers at the Mini-Meet and State Meet. Chickaloon will also compete at the Mini-Meet this weekend. They are expected to bring eight to ten athletes. The Mini-Meet will be this Friday and Saturday at the Valdez Middle School gym. The State Meet will in Anchorage, April 26-28.

 

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