The annual Brian Young Invitational in Homer lived up to the excitement and its collective goal of bringing together many of the state’s top athletes. Lining up were a handful of state champions from the ASAA Division I and II state meets, held the weekend before. The exclusive exhibition combines divisions, only separating into regional teams, to compete in head-to-head competitions.

On two picturesque days with views spanning across Kachemak Bay, a slew of champions were crowned, including Soldotna’s Dylan Dahlgren, who recorded the fifth-best shot put throw all-time by an Alaska prep athlete at 56 feet, 3 inches. Dahlgren, who also won the discus, was named athlete of the meet, alongside East phenom Olyvia Mamae.

Mamae achieved quadruple wins in the 100, 200 and 100 hurdles, and teamed up with the Cook Inlet All-Stars to run a meet record of 49.73. Bartlett’s A’Lante Owens-Player exuded commendable character, while also podiuming in the high jump, long jump, triple jump and 4×100 relay, crowning him with the Kip Thomet Sportsmanship Award.

Clare Mullen

Sitka’s Clare Mullen continued her dominant reign in the 1,600 by surging passed the leaders with 200 meters to go, building momentum and slicing over 10 seconds off of her personal best running 5:07.78, a state-leading time.

Jared Gardiner of Dimond followed suit, improving his personal best as he covered the four-lap race wire-to-wire, finishing in 4:23.70. Gardiner also took home the 3,200 crown, after being paced by former Dimond High standout Santiago Prosser-Gomez for six laps. His metronomic pace helped Gardiner, which resulted in a time identical to his state runner-up at 9:18.73.

Chugiak’s Campbell Peterson cruised to victory in the 3,200, clocking 11:22.41.

Katey Houser

Katey Houser of Palmer displayed her sprinting dexterity in racing a tactical 800, edging Mullen for the two-lap honors in 2:16.52, an improvement by more than 9 seconds. Houser also won the 400 in 58.62.

Sisters Layla and Bella Hays of Wasilla dominated the throws going 1-2 in the discus, with throws more than 108 feet, and taking gold and bronze in the shot put. James Connally topped the short sprints, winning the 100 in 11.14 and the 200 in 22.80.

Cole Shepherd

AJ Szewczyk Jr. of Eagle River swept the hurdle races while Cole Shepherd, also of Eagle River, dipped under the two-minute barrier in the 800 at 1:59.74, a day after winning the 400 in 51.29.

This was the ninth installment of the invitational, which honors the namesake Brian Young, an avid sports fan, volunteer, father and lifelong fisherman who tragically passed away after summiting Denali. The meet is orchestrated by former Kodiak High coach Marcus Dunbar. “Brian always said, ‘If you’re going to do something, do it right.’”

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