The entire Juneau-Douglas High School boys and girls cross-country running teams finished in the top 10 of their respective races at the Region V-Class 4A meet Saturday in Ketchikan, as the Crimson Bears swept the team titles and qualified for next weekend's state meet in Palmer.
Juneau's Molly Krehlik and Sitka's Amadeo Linke were the individual Region V-Class 4A girls and boys champions, respectively, and the Sitka boys and Ketchikan girls teams finished second to earn the region's remaining Class 4A state team berths.
The Crimson Bears cruised to the team titles by placing all seven boys and seven girls in the top 10 of their races. The entire Juneau boys squad finished the 5-kilometer (3.1-mile) course in under 18 minutes for the first time this season, and several Juneau runners set personal records.
"It was a great team effort," Juneau coach Guy Thibodeau said by phone from Ketchikan.
The Juneau boys finished with 20 points, followed by Sitka (47) and Ketchikan (75). The Crimson Bear girls finished with 19 points, followed by Kayhi (52) and Sitka (64).
In wet and occasionally windy conditions on the trail around Ward Lake, Krehlik turned in her best time of the year to win the girls race in 19 minutes, 39 seconds. Krehlik finished 23 seconds ahead of the second-place runner, Ketchikan's Erin Nugent.
"It was nice to see Molly jump out there and run what she is capable of running," Thibodeau said.
Ketchikan coach Ron Medel said Nugent's second-place finish was a breakthrough performance.
"Erin Nugent really came through for us," he said. "She was much stronger than she ever showed (this season), until today."
Juneau's four freshman "J's" - Janelle Smith, Jaci Hayden, Jordan Moser and Jordan Harvey - finished third, fourth, fifth and sixth, respectively. Smith ran the course in 20:03, followed by Hayden (20:29), Moser (20:44) and Harvey (20:45).
Heidi Denton (eighth, 21:15) and Phoebe Rohrbacher (10th, 21:54) rounded out the Crimson Bear girls results.
The other top 10 girls individual finishers were Sitka's Megan Lehman (seventh, 20:46) and Ketchikan's Stephanie Patton (ninth, 21:24).
All runners from the top two teams qualify for the state meet, as well as any other individual finishers in the top 10.
Sitka's Linke won the boys race in 16:54, with Juneau's Tristan Knutson-Lombardo taking second place in 17:09. Gabe Hayden took third with 17:15, followed by Tyler Dinnan (fourth, 17:18), Wesley Dinnan (fifth, 17:36) and Chris Frank (sixth, 17:41).
Tim Davin (eighth, 17:50) and Philip Dierking (ninth, 17:51) both set personal records as they finished under the 18-minute mark.
"It was great to see some PRs," Thibodeau said. "Philip and Tim hadn't broken 18 before, and they were able to do that."
Tyler Dinnan also said he was pleased to see how closely he and his teammates finished.
"We were all within 42 seconds," he said. "It was really nice to be up there in the same time.
"Everyone had a really good race today. It will boost our confidence level (going into state)."
Linke, a foreign-exchange student, had shown improvement throughout the season leading up to Saturday's individual victory. He finished sixth at the Juneau Invitational on Aug. 31, and took fifth place at a five-team meet at Kincaid Park in Anchorage last week. That race included runners from Bartlett, East Anchorage and West Anchorage.
"He pushed it really hard," said Sitka coach Rich Krupa, who could not recall the last time the Wolves had a region champ.
"He's just been running better and better," Thibodeau said of Linke. "I'd look for him to do well next week (at state)."
The other boys individual state qualifiers included Ketchikan's Thomas Montgomery (seventh, 17:45) and Sitka's George Howard (tenth, 17:54).
Krupa said he was pleased with his team performance - especially the boys team's win over Kayhi. Krupa said it is often difficult for the Wolves to even field a full team.
"It was the first time in a long time that we beat them," he said.
Thibodeau said the Crimson Bears will get well-rested this week before next Saturday's state meet race on the Michael Janecek Trails at Palmer High School.
"We have a lot of ability to do well up there," Juneau coach Merry Ellefsen said.
Knutson-Lombardo said the experience of running the Palmer Invitational on the same course earlier this month - combined with their strong finish at regions - bodes well for Juneau at state.
"We should be much better as a team," he said.
In the Region V-Class 2A/3A race, the Craig girls (47 points) and Wrangell boys (69) won the team titles. Craig's Anjuli Haydu won the girls individual title with a time of 20:23. Skagway's Kyle Mulvihill won the boys race in 17:30.
The other Class 2A/3A state team qualifiers were the Mount Edgecumbe boys (78) and the Wrangell girls (69). Wrangell and Petersburg finished tied for the second-place girls team, which meant the state berth went to the team with the best sixth-place runner. Since Petersburg only had five girls at the meet, Wrangell won the tiebreaker.
The other 2A/3A state qualifiers from the northern Panhandle included two runners from Haines - Flint Allred (sixth, 18:08) in the boys race and Alix Goodman (ninth, 22:23) in the girls race. Kake's Chrissy Morris (fourth, 21:43) and Hannah Esbenshade of Yakutat (fifth, 22:01) also qualified from the girls race, and Yakutat's Skye Endicott (eighth, 18:23) qualified for state in the boys race.
Due to a computer glitch, complete results from the Class 4A and Class 2A/3A races did not arrive at the Juneau Empire until very late on Saturday night. They will be published in the Empire later this week.
Andrew Krueger can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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