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Crimson Bears open season with strong showing in Ketchikan

Freshman Francis wins girls' race in record time

Posted: Sunday, August 27, 2006

Juneau-Douglas High School girls cross country freshman phenom Leah Francis said she was nervous before her first official race Saturday at Ketchikan.

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Nerves or not, nothing kept the highly-touted newcomer from dominating the field and setting a new course record at Ketchikan. Francis, along with juniors Katie Krehlik and Kirsten Jorgensen, finished 1-2-3 for the girls.

Francis finished the race in 18 minutes, 35 seconds. Both Krehlik and Jorgensen finished in 19:17.

JDHS senior Andrew Flansaas finished second overall to lead the boys team.

"The first race is really nerve-wracking," Flansaas said. "I was nervous all morning, even before we left Juneau. After the first race, it takes some of the pressure off. You know where everyone is at and what to expect."

Francis stole the show in Ketchikan with an impressive performance.

After posting the fastest lap last weekend at the Bartlett Relays, Francis took the lead early and held on to break Krehlik's previous record.

Not bad for her first ever 5-kilometer run.

"I started out fast to get away from some people," Francis said. "Then I went out at my own pace. I didn't really have a strategy because I've never run a 5K before."

While Krehlik took second, her time of 19:17 was just two seconds off her regional-championship time she set at Ketchikan last year.

JDHS co-coach Merry Ellefson said nearly everyone on the girls team set new personal records.

Juneau's freshmen class continued to impress, as Annika Ord broke the 20 minute barrier.

"I was pretty nervous in the beginning and it all kind of worked out," Ord said.

Ellefson said she was pleased with how her team competed.

"They're great performances," Ellefson said. "We had girls that had never did a 5K or did this before like Annika or Evelyn (Fisher) or Leah. This is a regional course last year so some are shooting to get times. I think everyone reached their goal. I think everyone is happy."

The boys, meanwhile, ran a terrific team race with numerous competitors in the top-15.

Flansaas was the Crimson Bears' highest finisher at second place. Haines' Chandler Kemp, Flansaas and Sitka's Alex Weisberg battled throughout the race. Kemp and Weisberg took an early lead before Flansaas came on in the race's later stages.

Flansaas eventually overtook Weisberg, but Kemp held on for the overall title.

Juneau-Douglas High School co-coach Guy Thibodeau estimated Kemp's time at around 16:28. Official team standings and individual times were unavailable.

"The top three runners really separated themselves from the pack," Thibodeau said. "That was a good, solid performance by the boys team."

Nils Domke placed fourth at while Ray Huebschen finished fifth, Hunter Brown sixth and Daniel Stoops took 10th.

"It was a good race for Ray," Thibodeau said. "He was injured parts of last season. It's good to see him getting stronger."

• Editor's Note: Look for official times and standings in Monday's edition. Tim Nichols, sports editor, can be reached at sports@juneauempire.com.



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