For the Juneau-Douglas High School track and field team, success may not be measured in gold medals and championship ribbons.
Crimson Bears coach Scott May wants the team to concentrate on achieving their goals, be they personal best times or a state titles. JDHS is scheduled to open the season April 21 at Skyview High School.
"One thing I like to focus on is that it's not about winning events," May said. "You come in, set goals and achieve those goals. We don't cut anybody. We accept everybody. Some of the biggest celebrations we have are the kids that aren't necessarily our top athletes."
While the team may not be obsessed with championships, there are plenty of quality athletes to make each meet thrilling for fans and athletes.
The boys track and field team is coming off a state championship campaign and still figures to be competitive despite toting a smaller roster.
Leading the way for the Crimson Bears are senior twins Tyler and Wesley Dinnan.
Tyler won state titles in the 800- and 1,600-meter events while Wesley finished third in the 1,600 and second in the 3,200.
The duo followed up last spring's campaign with impressive showings at the state cross country meet in the autumn. Tyler won the state title while Wesley finished fourth.
Juneau's twin runners figure to be strong not only on the track, but off it as well.
"They're great leaders," May said of the Dinnan twins. "They've led the way in fundraising. A lot of what we do is fundraising. It costs us about $21,000 to pull the year off, so a big thing is fundraising."
One of the Crimson Bears who appears poised for a breakout season is junior Levi Benning.
The hurdles specialist finished fourth in the 110 and 300 last year at the state meet and dedicated himself to improving his chances this season.
"I've been working our all year round at the JRC," Benning said. "I seriously go about six days a week. I've been running and stretching more. I've been looking forward to this year. I'm hoping to win state, that's my goal so we'll see how I do."
In addition to getting the most out of his gym membership, Benning has been working with volunteer Brandon Cervantes during practices.
In the sprints, senior captain Ben Schlechter figures to be one of the Crimson Bears' top speedsters. The Bears' Justin Jones should make a strong distance team even better while Eric Mason will be handling much of the field events.
On the girls end, the Crimson Bears return plenty of seasoned athletes and boast some intriguing newcomers.
Sophomore Katie Krehlik finished fourth in last year's 3,200 and sixth in the 1,600. She brings championship experience, boundless energy and infectious joy to the team.
Seniors Jordan Moser and Carly Craig will captain the team, along with senior Emma Sarandria. Sarandria will be competing in the high jump while Moser and Craig will run in middle distance events. Leigh Miller will also help the team this season.
One returner who may make some noise is junior Evelyn Fisher.
She helped lead the 800 relay team to a state title last year and will specialize in the sprinting events this season. Fisher also took fourth in the state in the 400 and 200.
"I'm basically just trying to do the workouts they give me and push myself and get good times," Fisher said.
The Crimson Bears girls will also have some new faces on the track this season.
Senior Heidi Calderwood gives JDHS a strong athlete in the sprints while Kaitlin Niewoehner will focus on the hurdles.
Accomplished swimmer Melissa Bogert joined up with the track team this season and will team up with Fisher to give JDHS a strong 1-2 punch in the 400.
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While the team looks to be physically strong, a key to Juneau-Douglas' possible success this season may be in the mental toughness department.
This year, May installed a psychological skills training regimen to go along with the Bears' physical practices.
May said the training involves goal setting, relaxation techniques, visualization and confidence building exercises. With the Crimson Bears' emphasis on personal achievement rather than trophies and wins, May's mental training may prove to be the perfect compliments to the team's impressive athletic abilities.
"For us, the big deal in track and field is not winning, it's not beating a team," May said. "It's about setting our goals and achieving them. A specific, measurable goal. ... You have to come up with a very specific plan to achieve the outcome goal. That outcome goal could be winning state or breaking a school record and that's fine, but that should not be you're only goal. You have to figure out how to get there, make it specific and make it measurable."
Tim Nichols, sports editor, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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