Kaitlyn Surdyk (597) runs with the pack in one of her top 10 finishes in the distance races in Fairbanks, and Rori Leaverton leaps to a sixth place finish in the triple jump. Cody Jennings

Surdyk, Leaverton finish strong at State Track Meet


Skagway High School senior Kaitlyn Surdyk capped her impressive athletic career with two personal records on the track.
Surdyk earned Skagway two points for finishing fifth in the 800-meter run and just missed placing in the 1,600-meter run during the Class 1-2-3A state track and field championships in Fairbanks last weekend.
The other Skagway point came from junior Rori Leaverton, who finished sixth in the triple jump.
Surdyk jumped into second place early in the 800, but got stuck behind a pack of runners who cut to the inside lanes at around the 200-meter mark. She immediately passed the group on the outside and ran a 75-second lap, but was passed by several runners during the final 200 meters, leaving Surdyk to settle for fifth with a time of 2 minutes, 30.11 seconds.
Skagway coach Kent Fielding said the move might have cost her precious energy for the home stretch.
“She had to go all the way around to lane 4 or 5 to get back in second place. That could have been that half-second difference,” Fielding said, referring to the time separating Surdyk and fourth place finisher Anna Trujillo of Grace Christian High School.
Katie Strong of Port Lions High School won with a time of 2:25.86. Surdyk did manage to beat Haines High runner Jolene Lemieux, who had edged her the previous weekend at the regional meet in Juneau.
In the 1,600, Surdyk overcame a surprisingly slow start to finish with a time of 5:39.66, good for seventh place and 14 seconds off her time from the regional meet.
But with the pack barely on pace for a six-minute mile after two laps, Surdyk said she should have taken the lead and controlled the tempo of the race.
“I could definitely tell I should have been going faster,” Surdyk said. “I wish I had. That’s one of the things I should have recognized.”
Surdyk was concerned with staying behind top-seeded Grace Christian runner Claire Trujillo and her teammate Moriah Martin, who traded the lead early and paced the rest of the group.
“I told her this in retrospect, that if it ever happened again, if a lap goes too slow, she should just take the lead,” Fielding said.
Skagway’s other state qualifier, junior Rori Leaverton, managed a sixth place finish in the triple jump despite never having attempted the event before three weeks ago.
Leaverton, who pulled her hamstring during a practice before the meet, was in so much pain that for her third jump, she switched from jumping off her left foot to her right, Fielding said.
Earlier in the season, Leaverton attracted the attention of Mt. Edgecumbe High School coach Aaron Routon, who gave her pointers, Fielding said.
“He mentioned she just needs to study form and refine some of her techniques and she’ll be extremely dangerous next year,” Fielding said.
It might be a while before Skagway sees Leaverton in action again, however. Fielding said she recommended Leaverton — who has had breathing problems that flared up during basketball season — to sit out next fall’s cross country season to heal.
The four-sport athlete — she plays volleyball for Skagway as well — said she is still unsure whether she will take the cross country season off.
“It’s going to be a last minute decision, right before the season starts,” Leaverton said.
For Surdyk, Saturday marked the end of an illustrious high school athletic career in which she earned regional titles in cross country and track and helped lead the women’s basketball team to two consecutive state championships.
Next year, Surdyk will attend Montana State University in Bozeman with hopes of becoming a veterinarian.