The Juneau-Douglas High School track and field team started their season at the Big C Relays April 2 in Anchorage, and earned strong results in distance running and discus.
The Crimson Bears have a smaller program than their counterparts at Thunder Mountain High School this season — running about half the size of TMHS’ program — but the team is still enjoying the presence of a large contingent from the school’s cross-country team, which anchors a strong distance running squad.
“Having the boys cross-country team is huge and they’re really excited and geared up to try and do something for this track season,” coach Janette Gangon said. “I keep being reminded of my second year as a coach when Tristan Knutson-Lombardo was on the team and the boys won state for track (in 2005) with a strong distance team.”
Highlights from the Big C relay include a seventh-place finish in the men’s 800 meter for senior Ryan Moritz, a fifth-place finish in the women’s discus for senior Kaia Hamrick, and a 10th-place finish in the men’s sprint medley relay.
JDHS distance and sprinting teams mixed it up a bit at the Big C, with the distance boys taking on the 200 and 400 meter races to work on leg speed, and the sprinters trying out the 400 and 800 meter events. Gagnon believes her team can build a strong men’s 4×400 and 4×800 meter relay teams, an event where maybe Thunder Mountain High School is a little less deep.
“We have depth where they (TMHS) don’t and they have depth where we don’t. Even though they are overall a lot bigger than we are, I think we are still going to be competitive with who we have,” Gagnon said.
Last year the Crimson Bears beat the JDHS school record in the 4×800 by one-tenth of a second. Two of the members of that relay team have graduated, but according to senior Noah Machakos, a returning member of the 4×800 team, this year they’re shooting for another school record.
“I don’t know if we can win state, we can do our best, but we would really like to break the school record,” Machakos said. “Our distance squad is looking really good.”
Sophomore Tim Mckenna, who competes in the mile, 400 and 800, and junior Jack White, who does the two mile, mile and triple jump, both said that competing in cross-country gives them a bit of a psychological edge against some of their track competitors.
“If we see somebody in the meets and think, ‘Oh, I can beat that guy in cross-country,’ you want to beat him in track too,” White said.
Having the cross-country team brings “more competition to be one of the four fastest people for a certain event so we can make the relay team,” McKenna said. “But also we’re all friends, so it’s fun goofing around at practice.”
JDHS competes in an informal meet at Adair-Kennedy Memorial Park Saturday, then travels to Ketchikan April 22-23, and holds their first formal meet in Juneau May 6-7 at Thunder Mountain High School.
TMHS hosts this year’s Region V championship meet on May 20-21.