Juneau-Douglas High School sophomore Katie Krehlik opened the cross country season with a powerful performance Saturday at the Sitka Invitational.
Krehlik obliterated the field to finish first at Totem Historical National Park in Sitka.
The sophomore finished the 5-kilometer race in 18 minutes and 53 seconds, topping second-place J.J. Lende of Haines by nearly a minute.
"She's been coming on strong and had a good track season," Crimson Bears co-coach Merry Ellefson said of Krehlik. "Katie had an outstanding early season time. We haven't seen anyone in the 18s in years."
Krehilk is fresh off a solid freshman year where she took sixth in the 1,600 meters and fourth in the 3,200 statewide during the spring track season. After a solid summer of training, Krehlik appears to be in top form.
"I think I did pretty good," Krehlik said of Saturday's performance. "I just wanted to break 20 minutes because I thought I wasn't in as good a shape as last year."
Overall, the girls' squad topped the five-team field with 23 points. Five Crimson Bears placed in the top 10 overall.
JDHS received a big lift from the younger set as the sophomore class established themselves as a running force.
In addition to Krehlik, sophomore Kirsten Jorgensen took third place with a time of 19:53 and second-year runner Leigh Miller finished ninth at 21:07.
The two seniors - Jordan Moser and Jordan Harvey - took fifth and seventh place, respectively.
"I'm really excited," Moser said. "Katie had a killer time and all the rest of us did well. We're all up to our times last year at at-least midway through last season. I'm really excited."
Haines finished second with 51 points, followed by Sitka, Petersburg and Skagway.
The Juneau-Douglas boys opened defense of their state championship by placing five runners in the top seven to defeat eight other squads.
Tyler Dinnan took the overall title with a time of 16:18, followed in second place by twin brother Wesley Dinnan who finished 21 seconds behind.
Despite the positive start to the season, Tyler Dinnan said the team has room to grow.
"I think we did pretty well," he said. "The general consensus on the team is we all could've done better. But it's the first race, so we're not too worried about it."
In addition to the Dinnan twins, Juneau-Douglas received outstanding performances from Ray Huebschen and sophomore Andrew Flansass.
Huebschen finished fourth with a time of 17:06, while Flansass finished fifth at 17:14.
Nils Domke took seventh place overall for the Crimson Bears with a time of 17:22.
Justin Jones finished ninth at 17:46 but did not factor in the team's scoring.
The Crimson Bears garnered 19 points to win the meet. Sitka took second place, followed by Haines, Ketchikan, Petersburg, Wrangell, Craig and Metlakatla.
"It's a really flat course and we were expecting to run a little faster," Wesley Dinnan said. "We're just aiming to peak at the end of the season."
Up next for the team will be Juneau's lone home meet of the season. The Crimson Bears will host a Southeast Conference meet at noon Saturday at Savikko Park.
Tim Nichols, sports editor, can be reached at email@example.com
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