Clear, sunny weather defied the rainy forecast Saturday at Adair-Kennedy Memorial Park, but the Juneau-Douglas High School track and field teams stuck to the script as they easily topped their lone Region V 4A opponents from Ketchikan for the regional team titles.
In all, 27 Crimson Bears qualified for the State Championships May 22-23 at Lathrop by winning their events, though JDHS co-coach Scott May expects to travel just 23 - 12 boys and 11 girls - based on their chances to compete at the next level.
"Some of the (winners) just wouldn't be competitive," May said. "We have to kind of look at how they stack up against the winners from the other regional meets."
The Juneau-Douglas girls, who placed second at state a year ago, topped KayHi 149-22 in overall points for their team title. The JDHS boys topped the Kings 119-40 for their respective championship.
Junior runner Leah Francis was the lone Crimson Bear to win three individual events, topping the 800-, 1600- and 3200-meter races - the three events in which she will be defending her state titles next weekend. Francis did not put up any new season-best times at the meet, but won all three events by wide margins. She was also a member of the winning girls' 1600-meter relay team - along with teammates Karissa Jackson, Marie Holden and Alison deLabruere.
Junior sprinter Jeff Cordle provided the excitement for the boys, pulling ahead of his Ketchikan opponent in the final 30 yards of the boys' 500-meter relay. JDHS edged out Ketchikan by just 0.15 seconds in the event. The win added to Cordle's two individual titles, both of which came in narrow finishes over King Austin Meredith. Cordle topped Meredith by just 0.18 in the 100 and 0.52 in the 200.
All eight of the JDHS relay teams won their respective events on the weekend, though May expects the girls' 3200 team not to travel to state.
Sophomore Emily Sharp lived up to her top-10 state rankings in both hurdles events, winning each by slim margins over sister and fellow-sophomore Samantha Sharp. The sisters also teamed up as half of the winning girls' 400- and 800-meter relay teams. Stacie Arnold and Talitha Wilson joined them for the 400 win, while Arnold and Holden rounded out the 800 team.
Cassie Orbistondo was named the girls' Athlete of the Meet after winning the long jump and posting a pair of second-place finishes in the high jump and triple jump. Her mark of 14 feet, 5.25 inches in the long jump was one of two personal records on the weekend.
Junior Annette Highley edged out Ketchikan freshman Crystal Blair in the shot put with a throw of 31 feet, one inch, but fell to Blair while placing second in the discus.
Sophomore runner Zack Bursell lived up to his state rankings in both the 1600 and 3200, winning each by wide margins. Bursell will also be close to qualifying in the 800, according to May, after sophomore teammate Andre Bunton edged him out for the title by just 0.42 seconds.
"If some kids decide not to run it, Zack may find himself with an invitation," May said. "You never know until you see how it shakes out (with other regional results) on Tuesday. It's happened to us before in the distance events."
Bunton added a second title of his own, winning the triple jump with a personal record of 38 feet, 2.75 inches.
Senior Robert Partin was named the boys' Athlete of the Meet after winning both the shot put and discus, while posting personal records in each event. Partin's mark of 41 feet, 8.5 inches in the shot put topped teammate Eric Ashenfelter by more than two feet to cap a season-long friendly rivalry.
Erik Schlechter also had a solid meet for the boys, posting a personal record of 18 seconds and breaking the five-minute barrier with a time of 4:59.37 to place second behind Bursell in the 1600.
The plan for this week's practices is to drill on the relay teams' hand-offs and taper the distance runners, according to May.