The Juneau-Douglas High School boys and girls track and field teams emphatically kicked off the season in Ketchikan last weekend.
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The Crimson Bears' boys and girls teams both won the inaugural Ketchikan Invitational meet as a number of standouts and surprises emerged.
For the boys, first-time track athlete Matt Barry immediately made his mark with an impressive showing in the field events.
Barry, a senior who finished second in the state as a 152-pound wrestler, won two individual events and helped the 400-meter relay team take first place.
"It seems like every year there are one or two seniors who come out for the first time and make their mark," JDHS coach Scott May said. "This year it's Matt Barry. Oh my goodness, he won the discus, won the shot put, finished fourth in the long jump and was on the winning 4x100 team."
"Things don't always go as you think they might and he surprised himself and us, I think."
Barry won the shot put with a throw of 37 feet, 5 ½ inches. His winning discus throw of 103 feet, 8 ½ inches was more than 10 feet longer than his closest opponent.
Strength in the field events may be a strength for the Bears' boys team this year.
"We've shifted from a big distance group to a very small distance group and more into the field events now," May said. "A lot of the kids are in field events. At this meet, the boys had six throwers out of the 32 total. Proportionally, that's more than we've had in the past for the boys."
The Crimson Bears boys also received a boost from Aaron Kearns. The senior, who finished sixth in the long jump statewide last year while competing for Angoon, won the long jump with a leap of 17 feet, 3 inches. He also won the high jump competition after clearing 5 feet, 8 inches.
May said it was the first time Kearns ever tried the high jump.
"Aaron is one of our captains this year, but we've known him and adopted him about three years ago," May said. "He's been with us, representing Gustavus and then Angoon. He knows us and traveled to state the last three years. He's a phenomenal long jumper."
Levi Benning captured the 110 high hurdles and 300 intermediate hurdles while Phillip Moser won the 200 for JDHS. Jake Pernula captured the 100 while the Crimson Bears won the 400, 800 and 1,600 relay events.
The Crimson Bears' girls also showed their prowess in the field events as Holly Bennett racked up the points.
Bennett, a senior, won the shot put with a throw of 30 feet, 3 ¾ inches. She also finished third in the discus and third in the 100.
"She's a senior, and she was with us two years ago and took last year off," May said. "She's back with us and definitely jumped into that first throwers position for us."
Katy Nickerson, who transferred from Hawaii this year, nearly won both the
100 and 300 hurdles. The senior captured the 100 hurdles in 17.4 seconds and
finished just .22 seconds behind first-place Christine Hansen of Haines in
the 300 hurdles. Hansen crossed the tape in 52.53.
Freshman Leah Francis, the defending state cross country champion, enjoyed a successful high school track and field debut.
Francis won every race she competed in, winning the 800, 1,600 and 3,200 runs and was part of the victorious 3,200 relay team. She won the 3,200 in 11:35, the 1,600 in 5:21 and the 800 in 2:23. Her 800 time was two seconds off the school record.
"Everything in high school track and field is real new to her," May said. "So she's just kind of figuring it out, figuring out what she needs to do in those races. She just needs to get some more (races) under her belt."
Juneau-Douglas' girls also captured the 800 and 1,600 relays.
The relay wins for both the boys and girls proved impressive as the team has only practiced outside three times prior to the Ketchikan meet.
"Considering we've only been on our track three times this year prior to this, I think we did real well," May said. "Our relays have not practiced at all."
JDHS will travel to Sitka next weekend.
Tim Nichols, sports editor, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Juneau-Douglas, 144; Sitka, 116; Ketchikan, 74; Haines, 61; Petersburg, 40; Metlakatla, 19.
Juneau-Douglas, 199; Sitka, 112; Haines, 65; Petersburg, 61; Mount Edgecumbe, 43; Ketchikan, 21; Metlakatla, 1.
INDIVIDUAL RESULTS (JDHS in bold)
Shot put - Matt Barry, JDHS, 37-5 ½; Triple jump - Ben Olsen, H, 35-6; High jump - Aaron Kearns, JDHS, 5-8; 3,200 run - Chandler Kemp, H, 10:05; 110 hurdles - Levi Benning, JDHS, 17.48; 100 - Jake Pernula, JDHS, 11.43; 400 - Ben Olsen, H, 55.9; 800 - Alex Weissberg, S, 2:04.7; 200 - Phillip Moser, JDHS, 23.96; Discus - Matt Barry, JDHS, 103-8 ½; Long jump - Aaron Kearns, JDHS, 17-3; 3,200 relay - Sitka, 10:26; 400 relay - Juneau-Douglas, 49.81; 800 relay - Juneau-Douglas, 1:43.4; 1,600 relay - Juneau-Douglas, 3:54.2; 300 hurdles - Levi Benning, JDHS, 43.18; 1,600 - Alex Weissberg, S, 4:32.
Shot put - Holly Bennett, JDHS, 30-3 ¾; Triple jump - Kelsea Johnson, S, 31-3 ½; High jump - Kelsea Johnson, S, 4-6; 3,200 - Leah Francis, JDHS, 11:35; 100 hurdles - Katy Nickerson, JDHS, 17.4; 100 - Nicole Pingayak, Mt.E, 14.0; 400 - Evelyn Fisher, JDHS, 1:06; 800 - Leah Francis, JDHS, 2:23.0; 200 - Nicole Pingayak, Mt.E, 29.71; Discus - Christine Hansen, H, 88-8; Long jump - Kelsea Johnson, S, 12-10; 3,200 relay - Sitka, 11:42; 400 relay - Sitka, 57.37; 800 relay - Juneau-Douglas, 2:04.9; 1,600 relay - Juneau-Douglas, 4:35.10; 300 hurdles - Christine Hansen, H, 52.53; 1,600 - Leah Francis, JDHS, 5:21.