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Nome-Beltz Athletes Overcome Hurdles in First-Ever Big C Relay Track and Field Meet

Students on the Nome-Beltz Track and Field team pose for a photo on the indoor track at The Dome in Anchorage, Alaska. Photo courtesy of Ryan Fox.
Students on the Nome-Beltz Track and Field team pose for a photo on the indoor track at The Dome in Anchorage, Alaska. Photo courtesy of Ryan Fox.

April 17, 2024

Sarah Swartz, News Reporter

The Nome-Beltz Middle High School Nanooks took to the track the weekend of April 6-7 to participate in the Russ Edwards Big C Relay competition held in Anchorage at The Dome. The Nanooks were the only team from Western Alaska/ Region 1 that competed in the two-day competition. Over 35 teams and dozens of individual entrants took part in over 50 events scheduled throughout the weekend.


Nine student-athletes from Nome-Beltz entered various events including the one and two mile run, relay races, shot put, and discus, all placing better than the team’s coach Ryan Fox expected for their first track and field competition. Athletes from the Bering Straits region have competed individually in the past at this event, but this is the first time that Nome-Beltz has represented itself as a team at the Big C Relay. 


Since Nome-Beltz lacks the standard quarter mile track and other training equipment found in larger schools, Fox needed to get creative to prepare the team for their first meet. The athletes warmed up indoors and trained both indoors and outdoors. Fox leaned on Dan Pardee, a parent of one of the athletes, to advise on the equipment needed to help the team be successful, particularly in the field events for which Fox had less experience.


“He’s been so awesome and showed up to practice every day, guiding the kids through a lot of that.” Fox said of Pardee.


Fundraising efforts started early in the winter with Fox creating an online store to sell popcorn to parents and community members. Norton Sound Health Corporation also donated funds to purchase shot puts, discuss, small hurdles, sprinting blocks, and relay batons. 


Fox coaches the NBHS Cross Country team in the fall and presented the idea of a track and field team as a means for more year-round running. When Fox asked the team if there was any interest the unanimous answer was yes. With a majority of the athlete’s growing up in Western Alaska, he praised their ability to adapt and their gritty attitude.


“Their willingness to just kind of make it work in whatever way that is, is so impressive. I never get any complaints about the kids wanting to run inside or when we do anything. They’re really good about making it work.” Fox said.


Fox feels that track and field sports has had a massive impact on him, contributing to bringing him out of his comfort zone by pushing his own personal limitations. He looks forward to passing on his passions and knowledge to a younger generation and witnessing his students endeavor to try new things.

“I got a little emotional at the meet towards the end because this was something that really has had a massive impact on my life.” Fox said.

The team will be back on the track at the Wasilla Invitational April 26-27.

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