Years of experience, months of training and a season of competition have all come down to this weekend for Southeast track teams, as Juneau-Douglas High School hosts the Region V track championships on Friday and Saturday at Adair-Kennedy Memorial Park.
"This is where it all counts," said Juneau senior Alan Floresca, whose events will include the 110-meter high hurdles and 300-meter intermediate hurdles. "This is where it's all on the line. It's a different mentality."
Winners of this weekend's events will earn an automatic berth at the state tournament May 24-25 at Bartlett High School in Anchorage. Additional state entrants -- 11 per individual event, three for relays -- will be selected at large from the best times at Alaska's five region meets.
Competition begins at 2 p.m. on Friday with the boys shot put and girls long jump preliminaries. Running events start at 3 p.m. with the girls 100-meter intermediate hurdles preliminary. Friday's schedule includes finals for both boys and girls in the shot put, long jump, high jump and 3,200 meters, plus the preliminaries in all individual running events except the 3,200.
On Saturday, events begin at 10 a.m. with preliminaries in the girls triple jump and boys discus. Saturday's schedule includes the finals in the triple jump and discus for both boys and girls, plus the finals for all of the individual and relay running events except the 3,200 meters.
"I think we're ready," Juneau co-coach Scott May said. "We've worked long and hard for this weekend. I think we're going to have some surprises. ... There's definitely a feeling of excitement, like we're on the verge of doing some great things."
Senior Emily Krehlik said she looks forward to the region meet as a true test of where runners stand compared to other schools.
"Now is the time to place yourself with everyone in Southeast," Krehlik said. "You can't do that (at earlier meets) because teams are missing. Regions is where all the teams show up."
Teammate Annie Fox said she feels the team is hitting its stride heading into this weekend and the subsequent state meet.
"Our coaches have done a great job of letting us peak at the right time," said Fox, a senior.
Floresca said he thinks Sitka and Haines will put up a good challenge to Juneau runners.
"I think it's going to be well-balanced and there's going to be good competition," he said.
Juneau's seniors -- preparing for the last home meet of their careers -- said they would like to finish on a high note.
"It's the last time I'll ever run on this track, so I'd like to make my best memories this weekend," senior distance runner Jesse Stringer said. "(I would like) to come off the track at the end of the weekend knowing I left everything on the track."
This week's listing of state track and field leaders, compiled by the Anchorage Daily News, includes four Juneau entries. Freshman Bryce Iverson is listed as fifth in the state in the boys 3,200 meters, with a time of 10:01.2; the Crimson Bear boys 4x800-meter relay team of Federico Milanetti, Tristan Knutson-Lombardo, Iverson and Stringer is third with a 8:35.02; and junior Loreen Tupou is third in both the girls shot put and discus at 36 feet, 10 inches and 111-9, respectively.
Petersburg's Zac Drillevich -- fifth in the boys triple jump at 40-0 1/8 -- is the only other Southeast athlete listed.
Andrew Krueger can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.