It all came down to the regional track meet this past weekend.
The South Tahoe and Whittell track athletes had shaved minutes, added inches and stretched for maximum distance all season for a chance at state competition. Their season of dedication ended in quite a show Saturday.
Seven runners, five from South Tahoe and two from Whittell, qualified for individual state events after finishing in the top four during the Northern Regionals at Yerington High School on Friday and Saturday. The South Tahoe girls 4 by 800 relay team also qualified for state with a third-place finish.
South Tahoe’s Brandon Cramer, Jason Rogers, Connor Henderson, Jennifer Burks, Kerry Norton and Whittell’s Sierra Forvilly and Mark Waite all qualified for individual state competition. South Tahoe’s Gabriela Vargas, Emily Treat, Karley Martinez and Cara Filce comprised a state-worthy relay team.
While only a handful of athletes will make the trip to Silverado High School in Las Vegas for state this weekend, all the athletes went out big. A total of 32 athletes turned in personal bests at the regional showdown.
“It’s been a great year. Everyone at regionals did all that they could and that’s all that we would really even ask of them,” South Tahoe coach Jake Hurwitz said.
Whittell’s top two runners, Forvilly and Waite, each won one event and qualified for states in all four of the events they competed in.
Forvilly set a new school record of 15.88 in the 100-meter hurdles during the preliminaries. She also set personal records in 200 and 400 meters. The senior will compete in the 200, 400, 100 hurdles and 300 hurdles in state.
Waite set personal records in the 400, 800 and 1 mile (4:40.56). The junior will compete in the 400, 800, 1600 and 3200 at state.
South Tahoe’s top boys were Cramer, Rogers and Henderson. Each qualified for two individual state events.
Cramer qualified in the 100 meters and the 110-meter hurdles with times that were good enough for season bests. The senior will have his work cut out for him in Las Vegas, which is known for sprinters who can run sub 11-second 100s. Cramer is capable of keeping up though.
“They’re all quite prepared for putting up their best show when the time comes,” Hurwitz said.
As far as running goes, however, Henderson and the Northern Nevada distance runners have the edge. Henderson laid down a new personal record in the 2-mile this past weekend, claiming second with 10:06. The time is 4 seconds faster than his previous best.
“He put on a phenomenal show,” Hurwitz said. “He not only kicked for about 150 meters that looked like a solid 400 or 800 runner, but in the last 10 meters he took off with this burst of energy that looked like a block start. It looked like the other athletes were standing still and he jumped ahead.”
Henderson sped past a Fallon runner, who finished with a 10:07, and was gaining on an Elko runner.
“If there had been 10 more feet I think he would have won that race, and those times are the fastest in Nevada for distance. If he puts out the effort he did this weekend, I think he could possibly win both the mile and the 2 mile,” Hurwitz said.
Rogers, who ran to a personal best 200 (23.27) in the preliminaries, qualified for state in the 200 and the high jump after final breaking the 6-foot mark that he’s been trying to clear all season.
“I would have said that he cleared 6-foot-2, which would have tied him for first in the high jump, but he kind of looked back to see if he had hit it and forgot to whip his feet,” Hurwitz said. “He just missed it. I mean he was a good 2 to 3 inches over the bar. He just didn’t get it in the back end.”
For the girls, South Tahoe’s Burks and Norton both qualified in the 300-meter hurdles, going two and three respectively.
“Kerry Norton came out of nowhere, and as a freshman is making it to state in an individual event,” Hurwitz said. “She and Jen will be a force to be reckoned with in the hurdles next year.”
The girls 4 by 800 relay team took third place in 10:17.74, qualifying Vargas, Treat, Martinez and Filce. The Vikings will also get to take two alternatives for the relay team, which a runoff will determine.
Outside of state qualification, almost every member of both teams set new best times at regionals.
For the South Tahoe boys, Rogers, Cramer, Henderson and teammates Kyle Miller, Justin McKenrick, , Matthew Herring, Dylan Maxwell, Orion Maxwell, Jose Rodriguez, Paul Mutz, Carson Alexander, Kris Hurwitz and Rafa Gutierrez all turned in personal bests.
Gutierrez destroyed his personal best in discus with a 106-foot throw for 11th. Kris Hurwitz claimed 15th in the shot put with a personal best.
The boys also had a couple of tough fifth-place finishes.
David Cassaday, who is coming off an injury, was fifth in hurdles. The 4 by 400 team ran into another runner to push them back to sixth place, and the 4 by 800 also got fifth place.
For the South Tahoe girls, Norton, Burks, Filce, Vargas, Martinez, Lindsey Herring, Corynn Bricker, Brooke King, Natassha Johnson, Grace Rosburg and Christy Walowit all pushed to personal bests.
“Brooke King ran the best race of her career and ended up sixth in the 300 hurdles,” Hurwitz said.
For Whittell, Forvilly and Waite along with Gisselle Benitez, Iran Manzano, Max Primo, Rodney Aguirre-Rodriguez, Alan Manzano and Aubrey Felton all had personal bests.
Manzano placed eighth in the 400 with her best time. Benitez took fifth in the discus and sixth in the shot put with her best throws of the year. Primo ran his fastest 200 to get seventh place. Felton set a new personal record in the 100-meter hurdles. Senior captain Welch placed sixth in the 3200 and fifth in the 1600.
“The meet really showcased all of the hard work that our kids have put in this year,” Whittell coach Larry Sidney said.