Some of our high-school coaches are already thinking ahead to the 123rd staging of the world-renowned Penn Relays. In fact, Michael Dyke of Edwin Allen Comprehensive High School has been planning for the Penn 4×800 metres since the start of the year. After a fine run by his team last Saturday, his plans may have to be upgraded. Ashanni Robb, Kara Grant, Kayann Green and Cemore Donald won the eight-lap event at the Gibson McCook Relays in eight minutes 47.71 seconds over a stubborn Holmwood Technical High School team. The runner-up school harried Edwin Allen past a meet record set by Holmwood in 2006. The reward for the 2017 Holmwood girls was a fine time of 8 minutes 49.71 seconds. In an interview in January after a loss to Holmwood at the Central Hurdles and Relays, Dyke revealed that he is programming his team to peak at Penn. Met with the suggestion that his 4×800 team could speed this season, he said, “I definitely think so and I’d be disappointed if we don’t win the 4×8 this year, especially at the Penn Relays”, said the soft-spoken Dyke, “because that’s what we are gearing towards; and the sort of experience and quality that we have, there’s no reason that we should not.” The Gibson McCook victory snapped a two-meet losing streak Holmwood had over Edwin Allen. While he acknowledges that his rivals are very good, Dyke reported, “I normally start the season like that, especially in the 4×8 – touch and go and feel out persons – but I know the complete four that will eventually mature into the top team when it’s necessary.” Holmwood had beaten Dyke’s team at the Central meet and the Western Relays with nearly identical times of 8.57.50 and 8.57.54. At Gibson McCook, Holmwood improved their season’s best by approximately eight seconds but lost. Grant keyed the Edwin Allen success with her strong second-leg run of two minutes 09.1 seconds. If Dyke’s January projections are anything to go by, his team’s performance at Gibson McCook would have been a surprise. Asked then if his 2017 unit could challenge the Penn Relay record of 8 minutes 37.71 seconds set by Vere Technical in 1991, he said, “I don’t think it will be that easy to run that fast with this team.” He added, “but I’m optimistic, and anything is possible.” He was right. Asked in January how fast the team would run at the 41st staging of the venerable Jamaican relay event, he said, “Well, we are in about 8.50, thereabouts, based on our preparations and where we’re at.” “So I think 8.50 would be a good time for us at the Gibson McCook Relays,” he concluded. Vere, Edwin Allen and Holmwood are the fastest three schools in Penn 4×800 history. In addition to the record held by Vere, a Ristananna Tracey-anchored 2011 Edwin Allen team completed the journey in 8 minutes 39.22 seconds, with Holmwood clocking 8.41.92 in 2008. – H.L. Losing streak
Increasing darkness ups the chance of drivers hitting wildlife on Alaska roads. Moose collisions present the most common and dangerous hazard, and a few factors are common to most accidents.Listen now(Photo by Hagerty Ryan, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)University of Alaska Fairbanks geography student Job Noordeloos is finishing up a masters project on moose vehicle collisions in the Fairbanks North Star Borough.”I’m from the Netherlands. I arrived here three years ago in Alaska,” Noordeloos said. “And I was completely scraed of driving on the roads. A lot of people told me about hoe moose just jumped on the road.”Noordeloos cited 3 Fairbanks area human fatalities resulting from vehicle moose collisions during the study period between and 2000 and 2012. During the 12 year span, vehicle moose collisions averaged about a hundred per year in the North Star Borough. Nordeloos said moose tend to get hit just after sunset.”They seem to be more active just after sunset and I think drivers’ behavior is also an important factor here,” Noordeloos said. “Because people drive home often tired after a day of work. They don’t really pay attention to things around the road.”Noordeloos pointed to vehicle speed as another key factor.”Roads 55 mph are like the worst,” Noordeloos said. Alaska Moose Federation executive director Don Dyer agreed with Noordeloos that basic driver precautions best reduce the risk of hitting a moose.“Clearly, the number one issue with moose collisions is the speed of the vehicles,” Dyer said. ”Be aware of what you’re doing and in places where there’s a lot of rush close to the road, slow down. Have a good set of lights. Pay attention and watch the sides of the roads. Don’t just be tunnel-vision down the highway.”Dyer’s group is contracted by the state to pick up road kill moose and get them to needy people. He says about 7 hundred moose are killed by vehicles statewide annually, most in the Mat Su, followed by Kenai, Anchorage and Fairbanks. Dyer cautions that moose get creative when trying to cross highways, and cites an Anchorage trouble spot.”The moose do go across the bridges, say at Minnesota Ave. and I just picked up a huge bull moose there on Sunday night,” Dyer said. “Also, last October that was where there was one fatality accident because the moose did walk down an onramp and go underneath the bridge and a motorcyclist hit it in the dark.”Dyer and Noordeloos both point to moose collision reduction measures like speed zones, warning signs, roadside fencing, brush clearing, street lighting and wildlife pathways, remedies that have been successfully employed on some Alaska roads.