Best of times at Whittell
Sometimes a little change is good.
In one year Whittell High has gone from overmatched on some playing fields in Nevada Class 3A to a 2A state powerhouse in nearly every sport. In the process, the Warriors are celebrating the greatest sports year in the school’s 40-year history.
Whittell’s first state golf title last Friday coupled with the school’s second baseball championship Saturday gave the Warriors their third and fourth state crowns for the 2000-2001 school year.
The four team titles doubled the previous best championship outputs in 1977 and 1978 when the Warriors collected volleyball and boys cross country titles; 1979 when the school claimed baseball and boys cross country championships and 1988 when WHS earned football and track and field titles.
“I think the kids and the coaches did a great job and I think it will continue,” said WHS Athletic Director Larry Reilly. “It’s snowballed. It started in the fall and it never stopped. I can’t think of any teams that didn’t make the playoffs this year.”
Whittell took no time settling into the 2A ranks, winning girls volleyball and soccer championships in the fall. The Warriors nearly added a third, finishing runner-up in boys soccer. In the winter, WHS nearly claimed its first state basketball championship, finishing third behind senior Bryan Sigel and a young but talented backcourt of Nick Summers and Nestor Flores.
“Traditionally, the girls teams have been pretty successful and for them to win state championships it kind of set the tone at the beginning of the year,” said three-sport coach Steve Maltase.
Maltase pulled off a rare win, place and show in state tournament competition in 2000-2001, directing the boys soccer team to second, the boys basketball team to third and boys golf to first.
“Personally, playing in the 3A all those years has brought our level of competition up,” Maltase said. “We’re used to having to work our butts off just to contend with the other teams.”
Gone are the days of being aligned with 3A juggernauts Manogue, North Tahoe, Truckee and Fernley, but that hasn’t stopped WHS from scheduling them.
“I definitely attribute all of our success in every sport to having a tough nonleague schedule,” Maltase said. “We play those teams that are familiar with us, and we know we have to play hard to compete with them.”
Whittell’s 27-8 baseball team defeated 3A state champion Fernley during the regular season and the golf squad topped Manogue from time to time during the weekly 3A-2A tournaments.
With the larger 3A schools pushing near an 1,000-student enrollment, the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association realized that the smaller 3A schools like Whittell were at a major disadvantage and restructured the 3A and 2A in 1999.
“All four of our classes got to break out and compete against equal size and experience,” Reilly said. “Even though we got into a good situation on all fronts, where the numbers in 2A are 180 to 460, we’re not one of the largest schools in the league at 233.”
With the school losing talented seniors like Caitlin Fagan, Shannon McGlothlin, Joeleene Brinkley, Carlye Johnson, Luke Forvilly, Joel Warnick, Sigel, Keith Truswell, Brandon Lee, Thomas Hunter, Matt Olsen, Joe Piccola and Chris Hannum, the challenge is to stay on top.
“Once you get in a winning situation it’s somewhat expected and it’s pretty nice,” Reilly said. “We were able to hunt everybody this year. Now, we’re going to be the hunted in everything.”
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