It will be winter vacation in name only for three of the Juneau-Douglas High School sports teams this week.
The Crimson Bears boys and girls basketball teams, along with the wrestling team, will all encounter stiff competition.
The wrestlers will be on the road in Oregon this week for a dual meet against Liberty High School on Wednesday and the Northwest Duals Tournament on Thursday and Friday in Portland.
Coach Kris Mercer's grapplers will face some of the toughest competition the Pacific Northwest has to offer.
On Tuesday, the Crimson Bears face the Class 4A Falcons. Liberty enters the dual meet with a 3-4 record.
Following Liberty, JDHS enters the 32-team Northwest Duals Tournament. This open tournament will feature teams from Washington, Idaho and Oregon. The Crimson Bears initially struggled in the dual-meet format, falling to Palmer and Class 2A Washington power Riverside earlier this month before rebounding to take fourth place at the South Anchorage Dual Tournament.
Juneau went on to finish a perfect 3-0 at the Sitka Duals - defeating the Wolves, Ketchikan and Homer on Dec. 16.
The dual meet versus Liberty and the Northwest Duals should serve as terrific competition before the Crimson Bears head into the homestretch of their schedule. The Bears have dual meets at Wasilla and Ketchikan and a tournament in Diamond before hosting the Region V Championships on Jan. 28.
Juneau's heavier wrestlers have been starting to assert themselves as of late, as Samson Keeney and Jake Mason finished in the top two in the 171-189-pound weight class in Sitka. Garret Cox (160-171), Justin Behrends (275), Tyler Zimmerman (160-171) and Kyle Foote (103-112) all had top-three finishes. Matt Barry (145), Buddy Howard (103-112) and Joardan Savland (152) took first place in Sitka, while Dante Santos (119) and Steve Dyer (135-140) finished second. Ramiro Lamas finished third in the 145-pound class for the Crimson Bears.
While the wrestling team will be battling on the road, the boys and girls basketball teams will be hosting an international roster of teams at the Capital City Classic, which starts Tuesday.
The Crimson Bears' girls basketball team will be making its season debut 6 p.m. Tuesday against Wasilla. The four-team girls field features the Warriors, Carson City, Nev., and Kilsyth from Victoria, Australia.
The defending Class 4A state champs feature the returning Alaska player of the year in junior Talisa Rhea, along with returning seniors Kerstin Kimlinger, Jordan Harvey, Lexi Garvey and Sophia Smith. Post players Nicole Fenumiai and Andrea Doerflinger figure to help give the Crimson Bears a good inside-outside punch.
On the boys' side, the Crimson Bears (3-1) face a very difficult draw with Wasilla, Kilsyth and Hidden Valley, Ore.
The Mustangs (5-1) are ranked first in the Oregon Associated Press poll and Oregon Coaches poll.
After dropping its first game 59-57 to host Colony on Dec. 14, Juneau-Douglas rebounded to sweep through the Cougar Tip-Off Tournament in Anchorage.
The Crimson Bears defeated Kotzebue, Mt. Edgecumbe and Lathrop in three days to win the title.
Defensively, Juneau-Douglas is holding opponents to a scant 45.5 points per game.
Juneau's 6-foot-7 junior, Will Egolf, leads the team in scoring at 11.3 points per game while senior Clae Baker averages a team-high 9.3 rebounds per game.
The boys team takes on Wasilla at 8 p.m. Tuesday.
Tim Nichols, sports editor, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org