Whittell stays in the running for state titles | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Whittell stays in the running for state titles

Jeremy Evans

In the past nine months, the Whittell High track and cross country teams have won a combined two state titles and posted two top-3 finishes. With athletes who have been a part of all of those teams, the Whittell cross country teams expect to continue that success this fall.

“We’re supposed to be the favorites to win state this year,” said Tyson Guajardo, who helped the team to a second-place finish in 2004. “That’s our goal.”

The Warriors’ boys squad has reason to be excited because it returns its top four runners from last year. Guajardo, Jeremy Worley, Chris Craig and Willis Hughes all finished among the top 14 at state last year, including Worley, who took fifth overall. Brian Peat and David King round out a solid lineup for the Warriors.

“The boys are going to be fine,” said assistant coach Brian Rippett, who led the Whittell girls’ track team to its first-ever zone and state titles last year. “Tyson is really looking good right now and Jeremy is Jeremy. He should dominate again. Willis and the other guys are also looking good.”

Last year, Sage Ridge won the state cross country title by a mere two points over Whittell. It’s a defeat the Warriors haven’t forgotten. Possibly helping Whittell’s quest for a state title is that the Scorpions graduated two of their top runners.

“That was real disappointing losing state by two points,” Guajardo said. “Everybody was real down after that. I think it’s going to be a pretty good season for us.”

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The Whittell girls, meanwhile, enter the season as the defending state champs. The Warriors graduated Christina Arana – their No. 1 runner last year – but return key runners in Danielle Daly and Kristin Kline.

Daly took seventh at state last year and also ran from the anchor position in helping a Whittell relay team win a state track title. Kline also helped a Warriors’ relay team win a state track title.

Whittell also has the services of Claire McLeod, who competed at state last year, and freshman Amanda Heiser, who is expected to contribute by the end of the season.

“It’s going to take a little while for our girls,” said head coach Lindsay Wines. “I have three girls back with state experience. If all the girls learn how to run in a pack, I think we’ll be all right by the end of the year.”

Once again, Sage Ridge figures to be the main competition for the girls. The Scorpions won the zone cross country title last year, only to see the Warriors come back and win state by eight points.

Whittell, though, was dealt a big blow when Jane MacKelvie, who finished 17th at state last year, decided to play soccer this fall. MacKelvie won three state track titles for the Warriors. Krista Castro, who was part of the school-recording holding 4×800 relay track team, is playing volleyball.

“The boys have most of their track guys, but the girls kind of spread out and do other things,” Rippett said. “That’s OK. The girls don’t have as strong of a team as last year right now, but they might just be deep enough to do some things this year.”

Whittell hosts the Warrior Warpath today at 3:30 p.m. at Whittell High School.