The Juneau-Douglas High School track team used superior depth in a mixture with some strong individual performances to sweep both the boys and girls titles at the Region V track and field championships Friday and Saturday at Adair-Kennedy Memorial Park.
Adriana Rodriguez was the only multi-event winner for the Crimson Bears, as she won both 100 meters and the 200 meters in addition to anchoring Juneau's winning 4x100-meter and 4x200-meter relay teams.
But the Juneau girls also picked up individual victories from Brandy Weston in the 1,600 meters and Claire Martin in the 300-meter low hurdles, and the Crimson Bears swept all four girls relay titles as they claimed their fifth straight region crown.
Juneau's girls scored 178 points to beat out the 124 points scored by runner-up Petersburg, which had to get the town's mayor to pony up $12,000 out of his own pocket to keep the team alive after a round of budget cuts. Petersburg had the most individual girls champions, with third-place Haines (97 points) being the only other girls team to win any events. Ketchikan scored 72 points for fourth place, followed by Sitka with 25, Gustavus with six points and the pair of Yakutat and Mount Edgecumbe held scoreless.
The Juneau boys won their half of the meet 171-110 over Sitka, as Ryan Wilson (shot put), Wesley Brooks (3,200 meters), Jesse Stringer (1,600 meters), Zach Gaber (high jump) and Clay Brown (triple jump) each won individual events and Juneau claimed two relay titles including a region record in the 4x800-meter relay. Ketchikan took third place with 83 points, followed by Petersburg with 73, Haines with 65, Mount Edgecumbe with 16 and Gustavus and Yakutat none.
The top individual scorers were Ketchikan's Geoff Nordlund for the boys and Petersburg's Amber Beardslee for the girls, while Ketchikan won the team sportsmanship award.
Nordlund claimed the titles in three events - the 110-meter high hurdles, the 100 meters and the long jump - plus he took third place in the triple jump. Beardslee set a region record in the high jump and won the discus, plus she took second place in the triple jump and helped Petersburg take third place in the 4x100-meter relay.
But Juneau's mixture of depth and individuals proved to be too much for the other teams, especially since the Crimson Bears picked up some unexpected victories. For example, Wilson only began throwing the shot put this week. While his winning throw of 38 feet, 6 inches is about 20 feet short of the state's best this season, Wilson still threw the shot far enough on each of his six throws to win the region title.
``I didn't think I was going to do it,'' Wilson said. ``I think I can add a lot at state. Some more technique will really help. I just want to hit 40 feet.''
Another surprise winner was Weston in the 1,600. She jumped out to an early lead to open the race, then held on to a huge lead to upset both Ella Allred of Haines and Breea DeSloover of Juneau, who'd both finished ahead of her in a meet at Haines last weekend. Allred edged DeSloover by just 0.05 seconds to win the 3,200 meters on Friday, in a race that came down to a final sprint with both runners taking the lead down the stretch.
``I knew it would be really close,'' Weston said. ``Last week it was me, Ella and Breea all within a second of each other. I don't have much of a kick, so I wanted to pull out early. That was five seconds faster than I've ever done it before. I was definitely surprised, and really tired. That was a good race for me.''
Martin has been aching all season, but Saturday she put aside the pain long enough to claim an easy victory in the 300 hurdles.
``I've been battling shin splints all season,'' Martin said. ``I took some ibuprofen before the race, and I was fine. I was really excited for my first year of track.''
After taking the lead on his first jump and holding it through the preliminary round, Brown had to battle for his second straight region triple jump title. John Plucker of Haines pulled ahead by three inches and Nordlund tied him in the fifth round, before Brown pulled to within three-quarters of an inch of Plucker on his fifth jump. Then in the final round Nordlund took the lead and Plucker bettered the jump by a fraction of an inch, leaving Brown one last attempt to win the event. Brown came through with a jump of 38-9 to win by 1 inches, even though he landed on his rump and lost distance.
``That was the craziest thing that's ever happened to me,'' Brown said. ``I was kind of worried there for a minute. I was glad to pull it off. I think I'll improve at state. This is only my first triple jump meet of the season.''
Even though she won all of her events, Rodriguez had to struggle in her victory in the 200 meters. Rodriguez edged out Jennifer Loesch of Petersburg, who won the long jump, and Sarah Lende of Haines, who broke the region record in the 400 meters and won the 800 meters.
``That was slow,'' Rodriguez said. ``But we've all done three or four things. I'll be concentrating on my relay teams mainly, then the 200 at state. The 100 was kind of a fun race for me. Our relay teams have a pretty good chance to do well at state.''
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