Earlier this month, Nome’s Native Youth Olympics (NYO) home meet against Dillingham prepared both teams for next week’s upcoming state competition.
Nome Coach Vanessa Tahbone says the Nanook’s only home meet will help determine who goes to states.
“It’s important for both myself and the Dillingham coaches to see the results and how the kids performed under pressure in competition at the meet with other kids, instead of just their own student athletes in their communities. Competing at a state level, just competing in general, brings out a different level of agility and strength. It’s a whole different atmosphere than just practicing.”
Both Dillingham and Nome are their own school districts, so they don’t always have other teams to compete against in preparation for states.
Nome’s team is made up of 19 athletes this year, which is the biggest number in a few years, according to Coach Tahbone. Generally, she sends 10-12 students to states, but this year, she says they’re shooting for 14.
Tahbone has not yet announced which athletes will be headed to states next week. But there are a few names that stand out from the final results of the Dillingham meet.
Anna Peterson placed first in both the Two-Foot High Kick and the Scissor Broad Jump. Kastyn Lie was the Alaskan High Kick first-place winner and came in second for the Wrist Carry, too.
For the boys, Jens Ireland landed first in both the Two-Foot and One-Foot High Kick. Ben Cross took home first- and second-place wins for the Scissor Broad Jump and the Eskimo Stick Pull, respectively.
Both Hennerick Brandt and Elden Cross also placed in several events. Brandt won first for the Alaskan High Kick.
Though practice in competition is important, Tahbone pointed out what makes NYO unique is its spirit of personal growth and community.
“You’re really not competing for the medal: you’re really competing to better yourself, to beat your own personal goals, but it’s not really about coming out on top. Everybody helps each other, everybody helps coach one another. You’ll see students from one community helping another, even if they’re in the final five.”
The state NYO competition is next Thursday, April 25, through Saturday, April 27, in Anchorage. As Nome’s competing team is finalized, athletes going to states from the Bering Strait School District will also be decided this week.
The BSSD NYO competition kicks off tonight in White Mountain.
Image at top: file photo: athletes helping each other at an NYO event in St. Michael in 2018. Photo: Karen Trop, KNOM.