BSSD NYO athletes gather in Shaktoolik for regionals
“Competition” and “Cooperation” aren’t words that are often found together in sporting events at any level. We more frequently see words like “fight”, “battle” and “tussle” to describe games and matches. This is what makes Native Youth Olympics, NYO for short, such a special event annually. In no other playing field do you see such cooperative competition, where athletes actually help opponents find ways to win.
The Bering Strait School District NYO meet was held this year in Shaktoolik. The community stepped up as hosts when St. Michael experienced issues with their community water and sewer lines.
Students from 13 villages arrived Thursday and quickly got into the events with Indian Stick Pull, a greased stick competition that replicates hanging onto a slippery fish. It is one of the competitions that attracts the largest number of athletes as it doesn’t require brute strength or size so it is common to find a diminutive seventh grader facing (and sometimes defeating) an 18-year-old 12th grader. In a dominant performance, Kenneth Stevenson of Shishmaref won the first gold medal of the weekend and Nalu Apassingok of Gambell soon completed a sweep of the girl’s side to join him.
Friday sessions got going early and the events came fast and furious. Gambell’s Lucas Aningayou exhibited the much-desired “full inversion” in the Alaskan High Kick and outlasted defending champion Arctic Ivanoff of Unalakleet.
A surprise champion emerged as seventh grader Katie Washington of Stebbins out-kicked all the taller, older girls for her first gold medal.
Other noteworthy results on Friday included a triple-gold medal performance by Arctic Ivanoff in One Hand Reach, One Foot High Kick and Scissor Broad Jump.
Gussie Olanna of Shishmaref doubled up with gold medals in both Kneel Jump and One Foot High Kick. Jeremiah Iyatunguk of Shishmaref hung on to beat Ivanoff in the Two Foot High Kick.
Friday night offered a treat as Shishmaref coach Jared Nayokpuk led the assemblage in Eskimo dancing. It was a satisfying end to a long day of competition and athletic effort.
Saturday morning had the traditional end events: Eskimo Stick Pull and Seal Hop. The first is an event of brute strength mixed with some technique. In the double elimination format it is common to find athletes with bleeding palms and aching backs as they make multiple pulls to stay alive and compete for the championship. For the boys it came down to two Gambell athletes: Wallace Ungwiluk and Earl Annogiyuk. All-around athlete Ungwiluk proved to be too strong and punched his ticket for the State Games next week with a victory.
Shaktoolik’s Rachel Moore, another accomplished athlete and state participant in both wrestling and basketball, dominated the competition in the stick pull.
In the seal hop, Alvin Washington of St. Michael had the rockets blazing as he shot off the starting line and set a mark that none could match.
The girls seal hop ended with an uncommon result was three Stebbins girls finished with the medals. Katie Washington showed that she will be a force in the coming years as she collected her second gold medal.
The Unalakleet Wolfpack held off the Gambell Qughsatkut for the team championship. Ivanoff and Augustine Olanna of Shishmaref grabbed the Most Outstanding Performer awards and will be featured on the tournament memorabilia next year. Courtney Isabell of Teller was selected as the “Most Inspirational Athlete” in her senior year. Gambell grabbed another coveted award with the “Team Sportmanship” selection.
All gold medalists earned a trip to the State NYO Games to be held in Anchorage, April 27-29 where they will cooperatively compete with athletes from more than 50 teams from across the state.
1. John Boy Kulowiyi (SAV);2. Earl Annogiyuk(GAM); 3. Kenneth Stevenson (SHH)
1. Patricia Washington (SMK); 2. Amber Okleasik (TLA); 3. Uuyaan Shoogookwruk (WMO)
Canadian One Foot High Kick
1. Arctic Ivanoff (UNK); 2. Jeremiah Iyatunguk (SHH); 3. Jacob Brouillette (ELI)
1. Gussie Olanna (SHH); 2. Anjoli Agloinga (WMO); 3. Alaina Pete (KTS)
One Hand Reach
1. Arctic Ivanoff (UNK); 2. Oswald Moses (GLV); 3. Shawn Mixsooke (UNK)
1. Lauryn Garnie (TLA); 2. Alexis Rexford (GAM); Kayli Apatiki (GAM)
Indian Stick Pull
1. Kenneth Stevenson (SHH); 2. Nicholas Topkok (TLA); 3. Genesis Blatchford (UNK)
1. Nalu Apassingok (GAM); 2. Tatiana Chanar (WMO); 3. Mary Tom-Oyoumick (SMK)
Two Foot High Kick
1. Jeremiah Iyatunguk; 2. Arctic Ivanoff; 3. Lucas Aningayou
1. Felicia Ione (WMO); 2.Gussie Olanna; 3. Sidney Kineen (UNK)
1. Jacob Brouillette; 2. Arctic Ivanoff; 3. Eric Daniels (ELI)
1. Gussie Olanna; 2.Alaina Pete (KTS); 3. Audrey Topkok (TLA)
Alaskan High Kick
1. Lucas Aningayou; 2. Arctic Ivanoff; 3. Shawn Mixsooke (UNK)
1. Katie Washington (WBB); 2. Amber Okleasik (TLA); Shea Matthias (STB)
Eskimo Stick Pull
1. Wallace Ungwiluk (GAM); 2. Earl Annongiyuk (GAM); Duncan Ivanoff (UNK)
1. Rachel Moore (SKK); 2. Nalu Apassingok; 3. Yvette Barr-Apok (WMO)
1. Alvin Washington (SMK); 2. Arctic Ivanoff; 3. Jayden Wilson (UNK)
1. Katie Washington (WBB); 2. Beverly Tom (WBB); 3. Celeste Katcheak (WBB)
Scissor Broad Jump
1. Arctic Ivanoff; 2. Jacob Brouilette; 3. Shawn Mixsooke (UNK)
1. Miriam Kulowiyi (SVA); 2. Timary Stenek (SHH); 3.Lauryn Garnie (TLA)
NYO Outstanding Athlete: Arctic Ivanoff (UNK); Augustine Olanna (SHH)
Most Inspirational Athlete: Courtney Isabell (TLA)
Sportsmanship Award: Gambell Qughsatkut.