It's become an annual tradition.
Each autumn the Juneau-Douglas High School boys and girls cross country teams compete in the Region V championships and bring home first-place plaques.
This year proved no exception as the Crimson Bears' boys and girls both captured the overall team titles Saturday at Ketchikan's Ward Lake. The boys had the top three individual finishers and posted five athletes in the top seven to garner 18 points. Sitka finished second with 30, and Ketchikan took third at 72.
For the girls, JDHS finished first and second individually and placed five runners in the top seven for 20 points, followed by the Wolves with 57 and the Kings with 62.
Since coming on as coach in 1992, Guy Thibodeau's teams have never lost a regional title.
"They've been working pretty hard," Thibodeau said. "Now they get a bit of a rest. It's looking pretty good. I'm pleased with where they're at."
JDHS sophomore Katie Krehlik delivered another dominant performance, winning the race in 16 minutes and 11.80 seconds.
Krehlik has won every race she's competed in, except for one, this season.
"Cross country is her element," Thibodeau said of Krehlik. "Right now she's ranked in the top three in the state, also."
Krehlik adeptly navigated Ketchikan's terrain to capture her first region crown, topping the 19-girl field. She finished fourth during last year's meet as a freshman.
With a region title under her belt, Krehlik has a couple goals in mind for next weekend's state championships in Soldotna.
"I want to be in the top five," Krehlik said. "(I want) to feel good and feel like I'm running a good race."
Juneau's Kirsten Jorgensen took second place behind Krehlik.
The sophomore posted a 19:25.87, more than a half-hour faster than third-place Sarah Poindexter of Sitka.
"I was really happy," Jorgensen said. "I got a personal best and everything went pretty well."
Leigh Miller finished fourth, Jordan Moser took sixth place and Isabel Bush finished seventh overall for Juneau-Douglas.
Miller enjoyed what might have been her best run of the year, setting a new personal best by nearly a minute.
"I wasn't that surprised because last week we didn't have as hard a workout, and I haven't raced in two weeks," Miller said. "I knew I'd be stronger this week, and I wasn't as tired."
For the Juneau-Douglas boys, senior Tyler Dinnan continued his sting of consistently fast performances by capturing the 5-kilometer race in 16:11.80.
It was Dinnan's first regional championship.
"It meant a little more because it's the last cross country race in the Southeast region so I wanted to do well and make it special and I think I did," Dinnan said. "I was OK as far as I'm concerned. I met my expectations."
Dinnan's twin brother, Wesley, finished second overall at 16:30.81, while junior Andrew Flansaas took third at 16:53.00.
"Andrew had a fantastic time," Thibodeau said. "He can handle whatever course is thrown at him. He can close that gap on the leaders, and he'll run in the top 15 at state. He's a tough position runner. He can hold his place there."
Flansaas provides the Crimson Bears with a physical presence and looks to start fast at the state meet.
Last year, Flansaas took 42nd place overall in Soldotna.
"I'm going to go out harder at the start. Last year, I got caught behind people. Just going harder at the start, and that's the biggest thing."
Nils Domke took fifth place, and Justin Jones claimed seventh for the region champs.
With one week left in the season, Thibodeau plans on scaling back the training to keep the team fresh for the championships.
"We've been doing pretty much 3 miles of intervals on most of their training days," Thibodeau said. "Now we'll cut down so they'll feel fast and put a little less stress on their system with decreasingly less work through the week."
In the 1-2-3A competition, Haines captured the boys and girls overall championships.
For the girls, Haines' J.J. Lende took first place, followed by teammates Stoli Lende and Christine Hansen.
On the boys' side, Chandler Kemp took first place overall, while Petersburg's Kyle Knight and Logan Stolpe finished second and third, respectively.
Tim Nichols, sports editor, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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