Thrilling finish highlights day one of Region VI track and field championships

FAIRBANKS-We start with the race of the day in the 4A boys 3200 meters race. Senior and top qualifier for West Valley Erich Hoefler had much of this race in hand and looked to have it in the bag opening a 200 meter lead on the final lap.

But West Valley junior Tristan Sayre turns on the burners and makes up ground in the last 100 meters and blows by Hoefler finishing in at an unofficial 10:09 to claim the 3200 regional tile. Both runners talk about the amazing finish.

"I thought I had him," Hoefler said. "I've had him all season but I mean Tristan is a solid runner. I ran with him for four plus years. I knew he had a kick. I knew I probably couldn't rival the kick-gave it my best shot and you know just came out as it is."

"I thought he had me actually he had a big lead, not be able to catch him with all this wind and stuff," Sayre said. "I just started reeling him in and next thing I knew I was almost on top of him so I decided to go for it and try to beat him. I just knew it was going to end soon. Pain is only temporary so I just went for it. 100 meters left isn't much so just gave it all my all."

The girls 4A race was similar. It was between Lathrop sophomore Autumn Fournier and West Valley freshman Jena Difolco. Fournier was the leader throughout but Difolco was nipping at her heels and made her mover with less than two laps to go and wins the 3200 meter race with relative ease.

With the win Difolco has the trifecta winning the Regional cross country running, skiing, and 3200 meter titles as a freshman.

"It's pretty cool. It's a lot of hard work but it's just repetition and training and mental perseverance. It's pretty cool. It's a lot of fun," Difolco said.

In the 3A girls race junior Victoria Joslin comes in first for Delta in a little over 12 minutes. Her second 3200 meter win gives her the 3200 meter Region title.

For the boys race top qualifier Daniel Tatarenko of Delta doesn't make it interesting running away from the field on the third lap. He finished in 10:45 unofficially and repeats as the 3200 3A region champ. The senior had to make it quick. Delta's graduation is tonight.

"It felt good speeding up the process and stuff. Because we want to arrive on time you know for graduation," Tatarenko said. "It's a good practice because I can pace myself and for state I can actually run with the top runners and stuff which is pretty good."