Community wins in Battle of the Lake |

Community wins in Battle of the Lake

Michael Traum

Mother Nature 2, STHS/WHS won.

After a pair of weather-related postponements, the “Battle of the Lake,” a track and field competition between crosstown high schools South Tahoe and Whittell, was deemed a success by meet organizers following Tuesday’s event.

“This thing was cool,” said Tahoe coach Rick Brown, as the last race of the day concluded at South Tahoe Middle School. “I think it proved it’s purpose. We got the first one under our belts. Hopefully, this will set the stage for more.”

“Official” scoring was not kept, mostly due to Whittell holding out athletes who will compete in next weekend’s state finals. But a tally of the results showed South Tahoe’s boys defeated Whittell’s, 84-69, while the Vikings girls downed the Warriors, 96-47.

“I think it would’ve been a bit closer if Whittell had run some more of its athletes,” said South Tahoe girls coach and meet organizer Anthony Davis. “But this was all about fun. I’d like to thank everyone who helped out and supported us. And good luck to Whittell at state.”

Added Whittell coach Dan Makley, “We have to be fresh and hopefully uninjured for state, so we had to hold some kids out. But this was a perfect tune-up for events that weren’t too stressful. And we’d love to do it again next year as soon as the track clears.”

Pleasantries aside, there was a rivalry, however friendly, brewing between the 3A and 4A schools. And the tone was set during the first event.

In the girls high jump, Whittell’s Karin Kaleta and South Tahoe’s Dawn Hock battled to a tie. In front of 25 or more teammates and fans, the two sprang to the height of 5-0, personal bests for each, and missed on three tries at 5-1.

“Both teams standing there and cheering, that’s what this friendly rivalry should be,” Brown said.

Added Kaleta, state-bound in the event, “Yeah, we have fans. I’ve never jumped in front of this many people.”

The friendliness continued to the shot put ring, where Tahoe’s Casey Martin and Whittell’s Bob Linkul squared off in the first of two strongman competitions. Martin launched the 12-pound metal ball 45-feet, 9-inches, smacking the base of a chain-link fence that marks the end of the pit. Linkul came in third with a heave of 36 and 1/2.

“I don’t feel like I’m beating on him because he’ll throw farther than me in the discus,” said Martin.

And he was right. Linkul, the two-time defending 3A zone champ, chucked the discus 146-1, nearly 20 feet farther than Martin. The junior school record-holder at more than 153 feet said he could’ve done better.

“I didn’t feel any strength in my legs and my speed wasn’t right. But all of us are using this as practice. I want to end on a good note,” Linkul said.

The rivalry turned heated, with a bit of coaxing, before the boys 400 relay. Whittell’s Adrian Norman and South Tahoe’s Jake Hurwitz traded pride-filled barbs prior to the race.

“You never want to lose. Who do you have running?” Norman said, smiling.

Answered Hurwitz, also grinning, “It’s me, that short guy, that short guy and that guy over there. And you don’t always get what you want. We’re gonna win.”

Neither team won. In keeping with the day’s fun theme, a group of South Tahoe coaches gained an early lead and held off a Hurwitz charge to take the race.

“The purpose of this is to motivate the runners, especially the underclassmen. It’s all about fun and giving them something to think about,” said Tahoe coach Mike Benasa, who teamed with Elliot Hubler, Dave Schafer and Greg Wright.

In all, athletes competed in 15 events in an effort to promote the sport and draw awareness to the aging track.

Notes: In the typical featured event of a track meet, the 100-meter dash, Whittell’s Ali Tanner and Hurwitz can call themselves the fastest at the lake. Tanner ran 13.7 while Hurwitz clocked a 11.6; due to a foot injury, Whittell’s state-bound Sarah Sufka ran just one event, the 400 relay, and anchored the team of Ali Tanner, Erin Zaskoda and Jessica Gibbs to a win; Zaskoda edged Tahoe’s Jamie Hansen in a close 300 hurdles; Tahoe’s Daniel Williams in turn edged Whittell’s Luke Forvilly in the boys 200, 23.8 to 23.9; and Whittell’s Nicole Wasson displayed determination the 3,200, running the event for the first time in school history, according to officials.

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