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After three years without it, the Juneau-Douglas High School boys swimming and diving team has its eye on the prize this weekend when it hosts the Region V championships at Augustus G. Brown Swimming Pool.
The Crimson Bears hope to reclaim the boys region title for the first time since Juneau last hosted the region meet four years ago, ending Juneau's six-year run as Region V champions. The region meet starts at 6 p.m. Friday with the swimming and diving preliminaries. The swimming and diving finals are at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday.
"We've got four seniors, and this would be a great way to close out the career," said Juneau senior Chad Walter, who has never been on a team to win the region title. "Plus, this is in our pool."
The Crimson Bear boys won most of their meets this season, losing only once to Sitka in a meet with region teams when they were at full strength (Juneau had two other losses when only a partial team attended a meet in Petersburg). But the Juneau boys know they'll have their work cut out for them this weekend.
Last year, Sitka scored 93 points to win its first region title in more than a decade with Juneau and Petersburg (the 1997 and 1998 region champs) tying for second place with 81 points. Walter said this year's region meet could be even closer.
"We will (win)," Walter said. "It's going to come down to the last four events."
"It's very tight," Juneau assistant coach Marc Bucat said. "The boys meet is a toss-up. It all comes down to who wants to swim. Petersburg only has a few swimmers, but they're all tough. Then there's us, Sitka and Ketchikan. It could be a four-way battle."
In the meantime, the Juneau girls want to keep their streak going. The Crimson Bear girls haven't lost a region title in the past eight years, and they'd like to make it nine straight.
Juneau's girls haven't lost a meet in the region this year, so they enter the meet as the favored team. But Petersburg and Sitka can both mount challenges.
"It depends on how the girls swim," Bucat said. "One DQ (disqualification) and you've lost a relay. Nothing is a given."
"We are trying to keep the streak going," said Juneau senior Kylie Manning, who will not only dive for Juneau but will also swim in a couple of relays. "I think we've got to work hard as a whole team. It'll be a fun meet. We have a strong team, and a lot of strong underclassmen. We want to relax and do good."
Juneau will be led in the boys meet by Walter, who is ranked second in the state in the 100-yard butterfly. Other ranked swimmers for Juneau include Forrest Preston, Jake Kreuzenstein, Kirk Fishel, Olin Robus and Reid Harris. A complete list of the state's rankings is on the Scoreboard, Page 12.
Petersburg will be led by Derek Carlson, who is the defending state champion in the 50 freestyle and ranks second in the 100 backstroke (he's third in the 100 fly, but Walter said Carlson's passing on that event to defend his state title). Other ranked Petersburg swimmers include Jon McKay, Josh DeGayner and Alec Schramek. Sitka is led by Derek Hirai, who is the top-ranked diver in the state, with Ricky Jarvill, Mike Schneeberger and Kieran Jacobson-Ross also ranked. Ketchikan's ranked swimmers are Ben Voetberg, Joey Rauwolf and Ryan Seaver.
In the girls meet, Juneau's ranked swimmers include Heather Harris, Lisse Focht, Annie Fox, Martha Kaiser, Manning, Emily Steadman and Christina DiCostanzo.
Petersburg is led by Amber Beardslee, Teri Jo Hasbrouck, Erin Schwartz, Natalie Lawrenson and Brittany Carlson. Sitka is led by ranked swimmers Alexis Will and Jodie Totten, Ketchikan is led by Tara Potter, and Craig is led by Shona Pierce.
Bucat said the Juneau swimmers could be in for a big meet, since the regional is taking place in their home pool. The individual event champions from each of the four regionals this weekend qualify for the state meet Nov. 10-11 in Anchorage, plus the next 12 swimmers at-large from around the state for 16 total qualifiers. In the relays, the region champions and the next four teams at-large qualify for eight teams total.
"It'll be in our home tank, and our kids get to sleep in their own beds," Bucat said. "It's a fast pool, so that may help us qualify a few more swimmers for state. It comes down to do you want to win region, or do you want to take kids for state. We want to do our best for the team as a whole, so we want to do well at regions."
"I'm really looking forward for this weekend," Juneau head coach John Wray said. "I'm real excited for the kids. I think they will do well individually. Whatever happens with the team score is fine. If we swim solidly, the team scores will take care of themselves."