JDHS boys dominate distance events to claim first-ever state title

Posted: Sunday, May 22, 2005

FAIRBANKS - There were just a few sprinkles of rain in Fairbanks on Saturday afternoon, the second day of the 2005 Alaska State High School Track and Field Championships.

But soon after the final team standings were announced, one man, Juneau-Douglas head coach Scott May, stood smiling and completely drenched -soaked to the skin from head to toe - courtesy of the traditional Gatorade cooler dousing as his entire team celebrated the Crimson Bears' first-ever boys' state track and field team title.

"Winning it was not even on our radar until halfway through the season," said May of the boys' title. "But after we were second at the Skyview meet, then the kids started to believe it was possible."

With a recipe that relied heavily on their distance running - in both the individual and relay events - and an important healthy helping of hurdling, the Juneau-Douglas boys cooked up a total of 70 points to finish comfortably ahead of the second-place Lathrop (52.6 points) and third-place Bartlett (52 points).

Juneau-Douglas got its winning weekend underway on Friday, in sunny and windy conditions, as Tristan Knutson-Lombardo and Wesley Dinnan finished 1-2 in the 3,200 meter race. Knutson-Lombardo finished behind Dinnan in the 3,200 meter race at the region meet last weekend and said that experience played into his game plan for the state meet.

"He outkicked me at regionals last weekend," Knutson-Lombardo said. "So I tried to not let it come to that."

Knutson-Lombardo said after the finish that he went into the race with a set plan - to run am fast but steady pace and take the sting out of the sprinters' kicks.

Knutson-Lombard stuck to his strategy and said he wasn't worried when Seward's Matt Adams opened up a gap on the rest of the field after the first of eight laps.

"I knew there were still seven more laps after that," Knutson-Lombardo said. "A lot can happen in that race. And a lot did."

Adams held on for third place as he yielded to the charge Knutson-Lombardo and Dinnan made on the sixth lap.

"We were running for the state record," Knutson-Lombardo said. "But it was too windy of a day to get it."

But for Knutson-Lombardo, who won the 1,600 meter race at the 2004 state meet, the day and his race strategy were perfect for winning his second career state title.

Dinnan said he was satisfied with second place.

"I told Tristan ahead of time if we went one-two it wouldn't matter who won," Dinnan said. "At about 200 meters to go I thought I'd be able to get him, but the gap never shrunk. Tristan ran a great race."

Saturday morning, Dinnan anchored the 4x800 meter relay team, running with Brian Smith, Justin Jones and Greg Frank, to a fourth-place finish, and a few hours later Dinnan finished third behind Knutson-Lombardo and his first-place brother Tyler, in a Juneau-Douglas sweep of the 1,600 meter race.

Then Tyler Dinnan came back two hours later to take the 800 meter title in a tight race in which he never led until the finishing stretch.

"I knew the West Valley guys would go out fast," Tyler said. "They got a gap, but I was shooting for a 59 (second) first-lap, and when I got it I knew I could close it. I got right behind Trevor Baldwin from Kenai and then I went by him with 200 to go. At the end I dug deep and I guess I had enough left."

Tyler Dinnan had enough left not only to win the 800, but followed it up less than a half hour later with a leg on the Juneau-Douglas fifth-place 4x400 meter relay team.

The hurdling point contributions to the team title were all made by Levi Benning, who finished fourth in both the 110- and 300-meter hurdle races. Craig Millard chipped in with a fifth-place finish in the 400 meters and was a member of 4x400 team.

"For me just being out here at states and contributing to the team is an honor," said Benning after 300 meter hurdles.

But at the time nobody yet knew that the honor his team would be taking home was the top one.

Juneau-Douglas girls take sixth place

The Juneau-Douglas girls' team sixth-place performance at the 2005 State Track and Field Championships was highlighted by a win in the 4x200 meter relay, a second place finish in the 4x800 meter relay and a third place in the 4x400 meter relay.

Heather Bennett took second in the individual 200 meter race and anchored the 4x200 and 4x400 teams.

Bennett attributed the 4x200 relay win to hassle-free handoffs of the baton.

"That's really important in a good relay," Bennett said. "Our handoffs today were good but before they were a little shaky."

Rachel Albay led off the 4x200 and passed the baton smoothly to Evelyn Fisher who handed to Sophia Smith before Bennett brought them home for the win.

Of her strategy in the 200 individual, Bennett said there really isn't any, but there is some finesse needed to run the curve well.

"I pretty much just run as fast as I can in the straight stretch," said Bennett. "And just try to keep going as fast as I can. I think its kind of fun to run the turn, and I don't hold anything back but I try to run relaxed and stride it out."

Katie Krehlik ran on both the Juneau-Douglas 4x400 and 4x800 teams and finished fourth in the 3,200 meter run and sixth in the 1,600 meter run. Krehlik anchored the 4x800 team which led off with Lexi Garvey followed by Isabel Bush and Jordan Harvey.

Krehlik ran the second leg of the 4x400 team, which was anchored by Bennett and also included first-leg runner Sophia Smith and third-leg runner Evelyn Fisher.

In the 3,200, Krehlik said she might have made a mistake early in the race by trying to hang with the eventual winner, Soldotna's Ari Goldstein.

"I think I might have taken off too fast the first couple of laps," Krehlik said. "I was trying to stay with Ari for as long as I could but then she just took off."

Goldstein eventually won the 3,200 by nearly 20 seconds ahead of the pack.

Once Goldstein made her big move and split the field, Krehlik ended up running the rest of the race on her own.

"It was kind of hard," said Krehlik of running alone and with large gusts of wind. "I didn't have anyone to pace off of and then I kind of lost track of how many more laps I had left. I just had to go by how I felt."

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