Juneau’s high school track teams went head-to-head Friday as the season gets underway in earnest.
The preseason was somewhat altered, said Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé coach Janette Gagnon, but now that things are moving, track should have a decent season.
“Cross country had a decent season that can lend itself to the distance side of the season,” Gagnon said in an email. “Now, that the season is started we’re at about 45 athletes.”
Thunder Mountain High School’s team is focusing on rebuilding and preparing for the future, said TMHS coach Dwayne Duskin in an email.
Changes to how the track team practiced and competed exist but shouldn’t overtly interfere with the meets, the coaches said.
“We had to get a little creative with our preseason stuff. We couldn’t do as much weight room stuff as we like,” Gagnon said. “But now we’re back on track with everything we’re doing.”
Other switch-ups include spacing athletes out on the track, Duskin said.
“As for Covid changes, we will only be using four out of eight lanes, to keep an open space between each runner, when possible. Students have to wear masks when less than six feet apart from another runner and when not competing,” Duskin said. “There will also be a sanitizing station. Next week we start weekly Covid tests, so that will impact future meets.”
JDHS and TMHS squared off at Thunder Mountain on Friday afternoon. While they didn’t score the meet, Duskin said, JDHS would have won if they had.
“They have the bigger team right now and got more wins,” Duskin said. “The kids all enjoyed competing against other schools from what I could tell.”
JDHS has a number of students with athletic ambition, Gagnon said.
“We’re the reigning region champions,” Gagnon said. “We’ve got a couple kids with eyes on school records right now, and a couple who want to go to state.”
A strong group of juniors anchors the JDHS team, Gagnon said, with only 10 seniors taking part this year. Meanwhile, a number of solid sprinters and hurdlers will help TMHS, Duskin said.
Both coaches said the athletes are excited to have a chance to compete after the season last year was cut abruptly short by the pandemic just one week into the season.
“We’re just thankful to have a season,” Gagnon said. “The kids have worked really hard.”