Warriors have pieces to repeat | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Warriors have pieces to repeat

Steve Yingling

Whittell High did something last spring that had never been accomplished in school history. And once may not be enough for the Warriors.

The Warriors collected their first regional and state girls’ track and field titles and are the odds-on favorite to repeat them in May.

Only 25.5 points from Whittell’s 210-point state total don’t return to the team, but there is one big question mark going into the season: How severe is the ankle injury to six-time state champion Katrina Kacirek?

The senior rolled her ankle during Whittell’s first state tournament basketball game in 21 years last month in Reno and played through the final three quarters with the injury. She had an MRI exam earlier in the week and results could determine if Whittell is a prohibitive or slight state favorite.

“I don’t think there’s any doubt she’s the best athlete ever at Whittell,” said the Warriors’ sixth-year coach Brian Rippet. “When you lose your best track athlete, it’s a huge hole. We’re hoping to have her back shortly after spring break.”

Rippet predicts that Kacirek will miss at least two-thirds of the season and won’t return any sooner than the end of April.

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“It’s really hard to replace her,” Brumbach said. “Hopefully she’ll be back at zone or state.”

At last year’s state meet, Kacirek won the triple jump, anchored the record-setting 4-by-100 relay team and was runner-up in the long jump. Without her, the Warriors still possess a deep team that will be hard to beat.

In junior Jessica Woods the Warriors nearly have a Kacirek clone. Woods captured two individual state titles last year, winning the 100-meter hurdles and long jump with personal-best marks of 17.07 seconds and 17 feet, 6 inches, respectively. She also ran a leg of the state champion 4×100 relay team.

“Jessica is talented and has raw ability,” Rippet said. “When she focuses and gets her technique down, she can do it.”

The speed and athleticism doesn’t end with Kacirek and Woods. Seniors Casey Brumbach and Meri Johnson give the Warriors a double threat in the 100, 200 and 400 meters and reliable performers for any of the sprint relays.

“They have the endurance to move up to the 400. They are not afraid of the 400 like a lot of people are,” Rippet said.

As talented as the Warriors are in the speed and jumping events, there isn’t any drop-off in the distance runs. In fact, there is more depth, which means more points.

Kristin Kline and Danielle Daly head a core of returning distance runners that contributed to two relay championships, a first-place medal in the mile and two runner-up finishes.

Krista Castro is back after finishing second at state in both the mile and 3,200 meters, as is Jane MacKelvie, who won the mile. Kline was fifth in the 3,200 meters, while Daly delivered a pivotal leg for the winning 4×400 relay team.

“We’re really lucky for such a small school to have so many talented people in different areas,” Brumbach said. “We’re pretty confident, but we don’t know what the other schools have coming up.”

The only missing part is Alana Lee, who moved to Las Vegas. Lee won the 3,200 meters and was a member of the victorious 4×800 relay team.

But sophomore Jordan Reeder and freshmen Holly Brumbach and Sasha Rupp give the Warriors additional depth on the multiloops around the track.

Defending league pole vault champion Natalie Rastello also returns as does Kelly Karmann, who will compete in the shot, discus and high jump. Freshman Dyisha Daniels gives the Warriors another sprinter and jumper and senior Katie Komorowski provides depth in the jumps.

For now, a skiing injury to Justin Jordon has tempered the hopes of Whittell boys contending for a state championship. Jordon, a potential state champion in the pole vault, tore his ACL earlier this year and will be lucky if he can return by season’s end. He was second at state in 2005.

The distance events figure to be the strength of the boys’ team. The core of Whittell’s state champion cross country team from the fall is out for the team, including Jeremy Worley. Worley finished third in the 800, 1,600 and 3,200 meters at state last year. Tyson Guajardo, who was runner-up in the state cross country meet, and Willis Hughes give Whittell a terrific 1-2-3 punch.

Others to watch are Otto Hsiao, pole vault; David Sabistina, sprints and hurdles; Jake O’Malley, sprints and high jump; Derek Kolstad, throws; and Casey Kaleta, sprints and jumps.

“We have some great kids coming back,” Rippet said. “In track you need to have a lot of pieces. I think we may be a few pieces short, but you never know what will happen at the end.”

Assisting Rippet Cece Lathe, former UNR runner; Peter Sinclair and former Whittell runner Ben Johnson.