The Juneau-Douglas High School track and field team is headed in two directions this weekend - both west and north - for a pair of meets today and Saturday.
Nineteen athletes and two coaches headed west to Kodiak for a quad meet against Kodiak, Bartlett and West Anchorage. Another 32 athletes and two coaches traveled north to Haines for a meet with Haines and Petersburg.
Juneau head coach Scott May said he didn't want to split the team for the first time in more than three years. But this is the second year Kodiak has invited Juneau to its meet and the Crimson Bears felt they needed to finally accept the invitation.
"We have a strong commitment to Southeast, but Kodiak's paying $100 per person of our travel expenses and we couldn't say no," May said. "Some of the kids going to Kodiak are kind of bummed they can't go to Haines, because that's always a fun meet. Our kids get to go to the (Haines) prom until it's time to catch the ferry."
May said most of Juneau's top state contenders will go to the Kodiak meet, but there will be a few potential Crimson Bear state qualifers in Haines. These will be Juneau's last regular-season meets before it hosts the Region V Championships on May 14-15 at Adair-Kennedy Memorial Park.
Of the athletes going to Kodiak, this will be the first non-Region V competition of the season for all but the distance trio of junior Tristan Knutson-Lombardo, sophomore Tyler Dinnan and sophomore Wesley Dinnan. Those three made a last-minute trip to the Skyview Invitational two weeks ago and took fifth place in the team standings of the 22-team meet.
The Crimson Bears heading to Kodiak will be led by junior Mary Rehfeld, who holds the state's top girls triple jump mark of the season and is fourth in the long jump. Junior Heather Bennett and freshman Evelyn Fisher rank second and third in the 400 meters and they're the only other Juneau girls ranked in the state's top six in an event.
Knutson-Lombardo had been the state's top boys 1,600-meter runner until Colony's Peter Doner - whom Knutson-Lombardo beat at Skyview - posted a slightly better time last weekend. Knutson-Lombardo also ranks third in the 3,200 and fifth in the 800.
Tyler Dinnan is sixth in the 1,600 and Wesley Dinnan is sixth in the 3,200 as the only other individual Crimson Bears to be in the state's top rankings. Juneau's boys 1,600 relay team is ranked fifth.
In Kodiak, Juneau will face some tough competition, as the other three teams at the meet have a combined five individual boys state bests and one individual girls top time, plus two boys relay state bests.
That list of state bests includes Bartlett's Bobby Dunbar in the shot put and discus, Bartlett's Pierce Blewett in the 400, West's George Brell in the 800 and Kodiak's Stig Yngve in the 3,200 (Knutson-Lombardo also beat Yngve at the Skyview meet). Bartlett has the state's top relay teams in the boys 400 and the 800. West teammates Ashlee Gardner and Sade Manning rank 1-2 in the state in the girls 200 and their times already are closing in on the state record.
While most of the top Crimson Bears are heading to Kodiak, May said there still will be some talent heading to Haines. He said senior Lyssa Mikesell, who won the girls shot put and discus events at last weekend's Juneau Invitational, will lead the Crimson Bears, who left Juneau on Wednesday because of the state ferry schedule.
Also at the meet will be Haines jumper Kim Ferrin, who ranks second in the state behind Rehfeld in the triple jump and is third in the long jump.
Sitka won't be at the Haines meet this week, but the only other Southeast athletes ranked among the state's best are Wolves. Dianne Chong is the top girl in the long jump, while Greg Hunter is in a three-way tie for the top leap in the boys high jump.