River Schools Jump Into the 40th Annual River Olympics

8 year old Mikaila Polmateer races for the 50 meter finish line. Mikaila was Junction’s winner of the “Best Girl Athlete” plaque with 6 blue ribbons./All Photos by Molli Myers, Two Rivers Tribune.

8 year old Mikaila Polmateer races for the 50 meter finish line. Mikaila was Junction’s winner of the “Best Girl Athlete” plaque with 6 blue ribbons./All Photos by Molli Myers, Two Rivers Tribune.

Families Gather to Enjoy the Activities

By Molli Myers, Two Rivers Tribune

Last Friday kids and families gathered to celebrate the annual River Olympics held in Forks of Salmon. This year was the 40th anniversary of the competition held for kids from local elementary schools, and was as hot and fun as it has been since the first River Olympics was held in 1977.

Local River Olympics legend Creek Hanauer came out of emcee retirement for the special occasion, and true to form led events in his booming voice leaving the megaphone in the grass nearby.

Originally, the competing schools were Forks of Salmon, Junction and Sawyer’s Bar Elementary schools, but in the late 90s Sawyer’s Bar school closed and Greenpoint Elementary, a small school located in Redwood Creek, joined to fill the void.

The day’s proceedings consisted of racing events in the cooler morning, including the 50, 100 and 200 meter dash races, and one mile cross country individual events. The group relay race, which pits the schools against each other with the fastest kid from each age group taking a leg, was the last event before lunch. Junction Elementary came out on top.

Lunch followed, and while schools provide lunches for those who request one, most of the community chose to support the Salmon River Volunteer Fire and Rescue fundraiser by purchasing hand-cut crisscross french fries, burgers, hot dogs and salads.

The Junction relay team hold their ribbons and plaques up as they are congratulated on first place. The relay is the only team sport held during the River Olympics, and all three schools enter their fastest runner from each age group in competition for the title. L to R: Nick-nekich Hillman, Johnathan Martinez, Beecher Robbi, Keira Whitecrane and Reya Whitecrane.

The Junction relay team hold their ribbons and plaques up as they are congratulated on first place. The relay is the only team sport held during the River Olympics, and all three schools enter their fastest runner from each age group in competition for the title. L to R: Nick-nekich Hillman, Johnathan Martinez, Beecher Robbi, Keira Whitecrane and Reya Whitecrane.

Afternoon festivities are set up in stations, where each student tries their best to place and earn a ribbon. Events include the shot-put, ball-kick, jump rope, chin-up, sit-ups and free throw, as well as highly competitive crowd favorites the long jump and high jump.

This year the highest jump was by Sienna Caffarata with a whopping 47 inches and the longest jump was a lengthy 11 feet, eight inches by Nick-nekich Hillman. Julia Rantz, who tied for first place in the 11 and 12 year old age group said high jump is her favorite, mentioning that “It’s really challenging, and I like that it makes me want to try my best.”

Junction alum Toz Soto, who competed in the first year of the Olympics, and whose daughters Roselyn and Shasta Ruby competed this year, said he thinks the occasion, “Builds character, healthy lifestyle and confidence.”

Privately homeschooled Sienna Caffarata soars over the high jump bar for the win. Being a homeschooler meant Sienna didn’t have the opportunity to “formally” practice, but she took first place by jumping a whopping 47” in the final round.

Privately homeschooled Sienna Caffarata soars over the high jump bar for the win. Being a homeschooler meant Sienna didn’t have the opportunity to “formally” practice, but she took first place by jumping a whopping 47” in the final round.

Health and happiness were sentiments echoed by teacher Andie Crosby, who added, “This day gives our kids the opportunity to interact with other small schools, while teaching that fitness is fun. Because of our relative isolation, some of these kids don’t have a chance to develop friendships with kids their own age, and this day definitely gives them opportunities to find common interests.”

The River Olympics is held every year in Forks of Salmon, and is always a family friendly event.

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