The Region V 4A Championship track meet at rain-swept Thunder Mountain High School lived up to expectations, as the Crimson Bears ran away with another dominant performance in Southeast Conference competition.
Both the girls' and boys' teams from Juneau-Douglas led the way over second-place Ketchikan and the third-place Falcons. On the girls' side, the Crimson Bears finished with 115 points, the Kings finished with 45 points, and Thunder Mountain finished with 14 points. For the boys, Juneau-Douglas won with 93 points, the Kings had 50, and Thunder Mountain rounded it out with 25 points.
Full results and state qualifiers were not available at press time, but they will be published in Monday's paper.
Bears coach Janette Gagnon said she was pleased with the effort she saw from her team, especially in the cold, rainy weather.
"We had a lot of kids that ran faster than they have all season, even with the rain," she said. "That was a nice thing to see happen."
She also said the team is rounding into form nicely with the state competition approaching. With the infusion of some newcomers for the Bears, Gagnon said there were plenty of impressive individual performances.
Junior hurdler Emily Sharp continued her streak of record-breaking runs as she once again broke the Juneau-Douglas school record with a time of 15.12 in the 100-meter hurdles. In doing so, she also set a regional record in the event.
"I'm pretty excited for (state), and I just want to do this for my team and see what I can pull out at the state meet," Sharp said. "I think that we're ready. We're pulling some good times andeveryone's looking really good, so I'm excited to see what we do."
Senior throwers Lawrence Fenumiai, Buzzy Hotch and Eric Sele stepped in at the regional meet and swept the awards in the shot put, as Fenumiai placed first, followed closely by Hotch in second and Sele in third. This was their first meet of the season.
Senior long jumper Iris Neary was another Crimson Bears first-place finisher, and there was a secret to her success in the inclement weather.
"I imagined the Caribbean white sands at Haines, because it was really nice last weekend," she said smiling, referring to the sand pits at last weekend's meet in Haines. "I though it went well, but it was hard to keep my body up because you want to just curl up and hide from the rain."
Neary added that she feels the team will be ready come state tournament time.
"I think that we're strong and everybody has motivation," she said. "I really like the atmosphere here where we all push each other and help each other, even in this horrible weather."
Senior Cassie Orbistondo, who was worried about her chances of qualifying for state earlier in the day, came through with her best performance of the season in the triple jump.
"I haven't reached my PR since last year, so I wasn't expecting much, especially with the new jumpers on the team," she said. "I waited for my last jump to pull it out, so it was surprising."
As for the host school, Thunder Mountain coach Scott May said he is happy with the way his young squad performed. Donald Stokes easily busted his old record in the long jump. Stokes is confident that he'll qualify for state.
"It feels good, and more than likely I'll be at state and I know I'll do even better," he said. "I haven't been practicing long for this because I just started training for the long jump.
"I'm trying to get Thunder Mountain out there, man," he continued. "Our team's gotten better. At first we were getting there, but now we're beasting it in the relays."
May said he loves the promise he sees in his team, especially with some of his younger kids putting up the best scored on the team.
"I was looking at our PRs and we had 24 total, so that was wonderful," he said. "But one of the things I got excited about - out of everyone that scored points on the boys' side, there are only two freshman, and they're both from Thunder Mountain.
"We've got a young team that consistently improved throughout the year, and if they stick with it and stay active, they'll come back, keep improving and be competitive," he continued. "The kids have great attitudes and showed great sportsmanship throughout the weekend, and I couldn't be prouder."
The state championship meet begins May 21 in Fairbanks.
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