Six Juneau-Douglas High School tracksters claimed 11 individual titles, pacing the Crimson Bears to a sweep in the Region V Track and Field Championships held Friday and Saturday at the Adair-Kennedy Memorial Park track.
Juneau claimed the girls team title, outscoring second-place Petersburg 208-133. Ketchikan took third place with 96 team points, followed by Sitka (47), Haines (29) and Gustavus (0).
The Juneau boys claimed the region championship with 174 points, withstanding a charge by Sitka which took second with 139 points. Ketchikan scored 98 points for third place, followed by Petersburg (60), Haines (42), and Yakutat (1).
The Crimson Bear girls won all four relay events and the boys won the 4x100- and 4x200-meter relays, giving Juneau a very large contingent of athletes making the trip to Palmer next weekend for the state track and field meet.
"All relay teams have legitimate chances to place in the top three," head coach Tracy Rivera said. "If they all hit their marks all right, they should be good."
Juneau's Jesse Stringer qualified for the state meet in three individual events, sweeping the boys distance events. His winning times of 9:59.287 in the 3,200 meters and 4:33.184 in the 1,600 meters were personal bests for Stringer. He also won the 800 meters with a time of 2:07.378, just edging Sitka's Jeff Loiselle for the victory.
"If I'd gotten 10:01 or 10:02 in the two mile I would have been kicking myself in the butt," Stringer said. "I feel that God has blessed me."
Adriana Rodriguez led the way for the Juneau girls once again, winning the 100 and 200 meters as well as anchoring the winning 4x100 and 4x200 relay teams. It equaled her performance at the Juneau Invitational on May 4-5.
"I don't really know what the times are up north, but I would like to make the finals at state," Rodriguez said. "My goal is to make the top four, but our relays will be the priority because that's where our best shot is."
Sophomore Molly Krehlik continued her Southeast dominance in the long distance running events, winning the 1,600 meters and easily claiming the 3,200 meters.
Ketchikan's Erin Nugent gave Krehlik some competition in the metric mile (1,600). Nugent took the lead just before the beginning of the third lap and held on until 150 meters to go, when Krehlik started her kick and pulled away to the finish line.
"I didn't think I was going to win," Molly said. "She had a big lead but she helped my kick."
Loreen Tupou swept the girls throwing events for Juneau, with distances of 31 feet, 312 inches in the shot put and 98-012 in the discus. Amazingly, it was the sophomore's first year throwing the shot and discus
"I didn't feel I would do as well this week," Tupou said. "I really need to concentrate and train. I want to win at state. I want it. I know it's asking a lot, but I'll do anything I need."
Sophomore Rachel Chenoweth rebounded from her stumble in the 100-meter intermediate hurdles to win the 300-meter low hurdles, rounding out the individual winners for the Juneau girls. Chenoweth is also a member of the girls 4x100 and 4x200 relay teams.
Tim Powers was the biggest surprise for the Crimson Bears, the junior high-jumper cleared 5 feet, 8 inches to win his event in a tiebreaker with Sitka's Mike Schneeberger and Juneau's Clay Brown, who also cleared 5-8.
"It's surprising. The kid from Sitka (Schneeberger) jumped six feet in Sitka earlier this year," head track coach Tracy Rivera said. "This is Tim's first year and he has been practicing hard the past month. He doesn't do much else. He's run a couple relays, but his focus is solid on the high jump."
Brown, who held the state's best leap in the triple jump for most of the track season, took second behind Ketchikan's Geoff Nordlund, who out-jumped Brown by 212 inches. Brown's jump of 41-012 inch should easily qualify him for an at-large bid for the state meet.
"I did OK, but Nordlund pulled one out and beat me by a couple of inches," Brown said. "The one I got 41 feet on, I fell back on my butt. I went at least 42, but they still marked me at 41. I have a lot of work to do this week. Everybody will be at their best at state. Forty-two or 43 should win it."
The winner of each individual event, as well as each winning relay team, automatically qualifies for next weekend's state track and field meet at Palmer High School. Eleven additional athletes and three additional relay teams in each event will be also be selected from the best non-winning times of each of the five region meets in the state. The final state field should be announced on Monday.
In the post-meet award ceremony, Nordlund won the top performer award for the boys with 38 points and Petersburg's Amber Beardslee won the top performer award for the girls with 32 points. The Haines Glacier Bears won the team sportsmanship award.
Nordlund won the 110-meter hurdles, triple jump and long jump and placed second in the 100-meter dash. Beardslee won the long jump, high jump and placed third in the discus and triple jump.
Jeff Kasper can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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