With one of the most well rounded teams in recent years, anchored by a strong core of distance runners, the Juneau-Douglas High School track and field team has the potential to run all over the competition this year.
The Crimson Bears will compete at 2 p.m. today in the Skyview Invitational in Soldotna. The two-day meet ends Saturday.
JDHS coach coach Scott May said this year's turnout is the largest ever.
"So we've got a big team and we're more balanced than I think we have ever been," said May. "Traditionally we have a real strong distance group and this year our field events and our sprints are really looking strong."
Senior co-captain and defending 1,600 meter state champion Tristan Knutson-Lombardo, along with junior twin brothers Tyler and Wesley Dinnan, lead a pack of strong distance runners for the boys.
"We have three kids right now capable of running the mile in the four-twenties, which is almost unheard of," said May. "It's very, very exciting."
Tyler Dinnan added, "We fool around but we work pretty hard too, so it's good. We push each other, it's cool."
Dinnan said the team has lots of strengths and thinks they will do well in competition.
"This year we're just deep, so we have people pretty much everywhere who can score points, so it will be a good team attack," he said.
May said the girls team also has strength and depth, including relay teams that have "tons of potential."
Bears junior distance runner Jordan Moser said, "The biggest part of it seems to be not so much the competitions and how well everyone does, but just how well everyone supports one another."
She said the girls team has a lot of fresh faces, including some who haven't competed for a couple of years.
Moser also said she is looking forward to seeing how the team will compete in Soldotna against larger schools.
"It's a whole different thing once you get up north," Moser said.
May said the Skyview Invitational will have some excellent competition, including a number of athletes with state bests in running and field events.
"This meet that we're going to this weekend is one of the premier meets, in fact, I would say it's probably the premier meet of the season in the state of Alaska," he said.
"There's going to be a lot of talent there. A lot of the top teams are going to be there."
Senior co-captain Michael Bickmore said he is excited to compete this weekend and face schools from outside the region.
"I'm looking forward to, more than anything else, just to see where everyone is at," he said. "It's one thing to see where Sitka is at, where Ketchikan is at. I really want to see what the big towns, up in Anchorage, are doing. I want to see the jumps they're doing, the times. I want to see where all that's going."
May said he is traveling with a strong team, but due to a music festival required for music students a number of athletes will not be able to compete this weekend.
Bickmore said he still thinks the Bears will be competitive in the 22-team field.
"It's got all those teams from up north, it's got everybody being really competitive," he said. "Everybody brought up is going to be the most competitive, that's why we picked this team."
"This is really the only time we'll get to see anyone but Southeast," Dinnan said. "It'll be fun to go up and see how we compare to everyone else."