Hot weather greeted the 22 Juneau-Douglas High School track and field athletes in Fairbanks as the Crimson Bears prepare for the Alaska School Activities Association Track and Field State Championships this weekend.
Action starts at 10 a.m. today with Saturday's events beginning at 9 a.m.
"I think everyone is healthy and ready to go," JDHS coach Scott May said from Fairbanks. "It's supposed to be 80 tomorrow, which is something our crew is not used to. We did a light workout today and we were just dying out there. Other than that, I think we're all ready to go."
While neither the Crimson Bears' boys or girls team are expected to challenge for a team title, a number of individuals should post personal bests and possibly compete for a state title.
For May, however, the focus is always on individual improvement over winning any sort of hardware.
"The focus is on achieving individual bests," he said. "Coming here we worked real hard. The kids have all worked and tapered this week. They're primed and ready to go."
JDHS qualified nine boys for the state championships in 13 events. However, the Bears' boys have a good chance of bringing four state titles back to Juneau.
Senior Levi Benning currently holds the state's best times in both the 110- and 300-meter hurdles. He also will run for NCAA Division I Montana State next year.
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In the long jump, Aaron Kearns is ranked first statewide. Kearns, who previously competed in the state championships for Angoon and Gustavus, finishing eighth in the long jump last year. The senior also will compete in the triple jump and is eligible to run in the 400, 800 and 1,600 relays.
One of the more intriguing Crimson Bears competing is Will Egolf. The senior cleared a state-best 6 feet, 5 inches in the high jump last weekend. It was his first track and field meet since his freshman year in Haines.
"I don't think he's feeling a lot of pressure," May said of Egolf. "He's doing it for the fun of it. It's not like it's something he's been working towards for four years and it's the culmination of four years of work. ... Honestly, that's where you get the best results, if the kids don't realize that perceived pressure."
For the girls, freshman Leah Francis will be part of what figures to be a blistering 1,600.
Francis won the Region V title with a time of 5 minutes, 10.55 seconds. Only a pair of West Valley runners - Samantha Davis and Kayla Teslow - posted better 1,600 times this year.
She's also ranked second in the 3,200, just a few seconds behind top-seeded Shoshana Keegan of West Anchorage.
The 13 JDHS girls in Fairbanks run the entire gamut of events, reflecting the diversity in this year's team.
Katy Nickerson will compete in the 100 hurdles and 300 hurdles as the Region V champion while Alison Delabruere, Kristie Ely and Kaitlin Niewoehner all will square off in the long jump.
The JDHS girls also qualified their 800, 1,600 and 3,200 relay teams.
JDHS track and field
State qualifiers (athlete may not compete in each event)
Matt Barry: shot put, 400 relay
Amber Walker: high jump, long jump 800 relay
Will Egolf: high jump
Alison Delabruere: long jump, 3,200 relay, 800 relay, 1,600 relay
Kristie Ely: long jump, triple jump
Aaron Kearns: long jump, triple jump, 400 relay, 800 relay, 1,600 relay
Erik Bickmore: long jump, 200, 400 relay, 800 relay, 1,600 relay
Kaitlin Niewoehner: triple jump, 100 hurdles
Leah Francis: 800, 1,600, 3,200, 1,600 relay, 3,200 relay
Katie Krehlik: 3,200, 1,600 relay, 3,200 relay
Leigh Miller: 3,200, 1,600 relay, 3,200 relay
Isabel Bush: 1,600 relay, 3,200 relay
Evelyn Fisher: 400, 800 relay, 1,600 relay, 3,200 relay
Katy Nickerson: 100 hurdles, 300 hurdles, 800 relay
Levi Benning: 110 hurdles, 300 hurdles, 800 relay, 1,600 relay
Jake Pernula: 100, 200, 400 relay, 800 relay
Samantha Eyre: 800 relay
Bragan Jana: shot put, 400 relay
Phil Moser: 400, 400 relay, 800 relay
Ron Cuanzon: 400 relay, 800 relay
Hunter Brown: 1,600, 1,600 relay
Nick Waldo: 1,600 relay
Tim Nichols, sports editor, can be reached at email@example.com.