Crimson Bears dominate Region V cross-country meet

Posted: Sunday, September 26, 2010

Juneau-Douglas scored a perfect 15 to sweep both the boys' and girls' Region V 4A cross-country championships Saturday at Sitka's National Historic Park, with Sage Thibodeau and Sidney Browning winning the two races.

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James Poulson / Sitka Sentinel
James Poulson / Sitka Sentinel

Ketchikan came in second with 53 points and Thunder Mountain third with 71 to finish out the 4A girls' rankings.

Thunder Mountain took second on the boys' side with 52 points, and Ketchikan third with 77.

The Falcons qualified their first-ever runners for next week's state meet at Bartlett after Katie Jones finished seventh (21:33.01) in the girls' race, and Avery Stewart (17:51.72), Hugh Watts (18:10.50) and James Steeves (18:18.84) finishing eighth, ninth and 10th, respectively, for the boys.

But this meet was all about the Crimson Bears. Juneau-Douglas runners filled each of the top five spots on both the boys' and girls' sides, leading to the perfect scores. The winning region teams compete at state, and other runners who finish in the top 10 earn at-large bids.

"The girls were really impressive today. Pretty much everybody dropped their times significantly," assistant coach Tristan Knutson-Lombardo said. "We had huge (personal records), and Sid dropped her time by almost a full minute.

"They all had significant PRs, which is great to see because this is a good opportunity for them to run hard and fast because when they go up north for state, they're going to have to do the exact same thing against stiffer competition."

Browning, who led the entire race and finished in 20:19.48, said the Sitka course was conducive to fast times all around.

"It was a really fast course and I used it to my advantage," she said. "I started out really hard and aimed for the times and mile splits my coaches told me to. It was faster than I've been going all season and it was good to pace myself this time because I've been working on that.

"The course was flat, but it smelled a little fishy. Other than that, it was pretty good."

Coach Guy Thibodeau said the boys' team ran a smart race.

"The boys were a little conservative up front," he said. "We ran a tighter group and the top three picked it up there in the middle of the race. Our next three ran in a nice group and helped pull each other along, and set some nice PRs."

Sage Thibodeau won by better than 24 seconds (16:12.93) but didn't quite reach the time he was aiming for, he said.

"I had a pretty good race. It wasn't quite the PR I was looking for but it went pretty well. I was looking for a 16:10 or faster so I didn't quite make it, but I still felt pretty good throughout the race."

The boys' team tried out a new tactic.

"We tried something different where me, David (Francis) and Zach (Bursell) ran as a team, and we took turns leading so we'd break the wind for each other and work together a lot more," he said. "We're getting ready for state and that's what we want to do up there. We're going to stick together and work off each other."

Sage Thibodeau said Service is the team to beat right now for the state title, with Juneau-Douglas closing the gap and challenging for second.

"It's going to be really tough," he said. "It looks like Service is posting really good times and we'll have to be at our best if we're going to have any chance of winning."

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