The Juneau-Douglas High School football team isn't the only Crimson Bear sports program on the road this weekend.
The Crimson Bear swim/dive team opens its season in Ketchikan today and Saturday. The volleyball team plays its first regular-season matches in Sitka today and Saturday. And the cross-country running team sends its varsity squad to the Palmer Invitational on Saturday and the JV team to today's Skagway Invitational.
"We want to get in the water and swim," Juneau swim coach John Wray said. "All the other schools up north already had a meet last weekend."
The Ketchikan Invitational is the season-opener for all of the Southeast swim teams. There will be two separate meets at Mike Smithers Swim Pool, one today and another on Saturday, so most coaches will try their swimmers out in a variety of events to see what works best. The Crimson Bear boys shared last year's state title, so this opens their defense. The Juneau girls tied for fifth at state last year. A team preview ran in Thursday's sports section.
The volleyball team got a taste of action last weekend when Juneau hosted the Jamboree, a two-day mini-tournament where few scores were kept. Juneau had six teams at the Jamboree, while Sitka sent four, Ketchikan three and Wrangell sent one.
The top Juneau team - Juneau 1 - didn't lose a game, so things look good for the Crimson Bear varsity team, despite having just two returners from last year's state champion team.
"Everyone played great," Juneau coach Sandi Wagner said after the Jamboree. "We did very well for our first action of the season. I was very excited with the way we played."
Juneau will take varsity, JV and C teams to Sitka for matches today and Saturday. The Wolves feature their fourth head coach in four years in Jaime Cabral, but after the Jamboree the Juneau coaches told Cabral it looked like Sitka was a much-improved team.
"We're a lot further along," said Cabral, who will miss part of the season to finish a class at Western Oregon University before returning to Sitka to do his student teaching. "We're getting into the system and finding out what we need to work on."
The cross-country running team's varsity runners will get a preview of the state month this weekend at the Palmer Invitational, which is the state's largest regular-season meet. The state meet is late this month on the same Palmer High School course, and most of the state's top teams are sending squads to the meet.
The Palmer Invitational is the only non-Region V meet Juneau will attend where the races are run over a full-length 5-kilometer course (3.1 miles). The Crimson Bears attended the Bartlett Relays last month, but that was run over a short course and in a mixed-gender relay format.
"I'm looking forward to seeing how we stack up against the rest of the state," Juneau sophomore Tyler Dinnan said after last weekend's Sitka Invitational.
The Juneau JV team will be in Skagway for today's Skagway Invitational. While those runners won't get to see the top teams in the state, the Skagway meet is set up so the runners competing in the Klondike Trail of '98 International Road Relay can cheer them on. Several Southeast running coaches are competing in the Klondike race, which starts tonight and finishes Saturday in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory.