Domination: Whittell claims second straight title
Warriors surpass last year’s total to win 2A state track championship
By Jeremy Evans
Tribune staff writer
RENO – On Friday and Saturday at Reno High School, there was an assortment of tents scattered on the stadium’s periphery.
One of the tents was red and appeared larger than most of the others. It was located in a corner that could accommodate an overflow of athletes without interfering with the other team’s camps.
This particular tent was that of the Whittell High School track team. And the extra room was necessary because the Warriors had a small army of athletes competing at the NIAA 2A State Track and Field Championships. But it was their blend of size and talent that propelled the girls to their second straight state title.
“It’s really gratifying,” Whittell coach Brian Rippet said. “There is a lot of work that goes into it. We’ve really put together a program. You want to get a program that kids are interested in joining, then when you get a wave of talented athletes, you’re in a position to take advantage of it.”
Whittell finished with a 216 points and was distantly followed by second-place White Pine (88.5 points) and third-place Battle Mountain (81.5). At the 2005 state meet, the Warriors totaled 214 points and finished with 104 points more than second-place White Pine.
It was this domination that attracted freshman Sasha Rupp, who was also an all-league soccer player for the Warriors in the fall.
“Everybody supports everyone else really well and I think that helps,” said Rupp, who won the 1,600 and 3,200-meter runs and was part of the winning 4×800 relay team. “We have been doing really well, and I am pretty sure we can win it.”
Rupp’s prediction came on Saturday afternoon after she finished second to Hawthorne’s Amber Sellers in the 800-meter run. The race was just one of five events Whittell didn’t win in the two-day meet.
After the first day of events, the Warriors held a 125-46 lead over their next closest competitor and had effectively sucked any suspense out of the meet. No other school came close to reaching 100 points.
“I’ve talked to a lot of girls from other schools and they were like ‘You guys are so fast. We’re just competing for second,'” said Meri Johnson, who won the 200-meter dash, was part of the winning 4×100 relay team that set a new state record (52.28 seconds) and set a school record with a mark of 8 feet in the pole vault. “I am so happy that we pulled together. This is our best meet ever.”
In addition to Rupp, juniors Kelly Karmann and Jessica Woods also won two individual events. Karmann won the high jump with a mark of 4 feet, 8 inches and also won the discus with a mark of 109 feet. Woods, who was also part of the 4×100 relay team, won the triple jump with a mark of 33 feet, 6 1/4 inches and also placed first in the 100-meter hurdles in 17.65 seconds.
Woods placed second in the long jump at 15 feet, 10 inches, an event teammate Katrina Kacirek won at 16 feet, 1/2 inches. It was Kacirek’s seventh state title in her prep career, which had a positive ending even though she missed most of the track season with tendinitis.
Kacirek took third at the Northern 2A regional meet last weekend to qualify for state.
“When I was at zone, it was really frustrating because I’m not used to doing so poorly,” said Kacirek, who took second in long jump and first in triple jump at last year’s state meet. “It’s been hard for me because I have been out for a year.”
Casey Brumbach won the 100-meter dash in 13.44 seconds and was part of the 4×100 and 4×200 teams that finished in first place. If the rest of the stadium didn’t already realize the girls’ 2A meet was being dominated by Whittell, the Warriors had two reminders for people who passed by their tent.
Near the school’s red tent were two yellow bulletin boards. One listed all the points Whittell had accumulated so far during the event. The other listed notable accomplishments various athletes achieved, such as Johnson’s state-record time of 26.96 seconds in the 200-meter dash and the 4×100 team’s state record-setting time.
By the end of Saturday’s meet, both bulletin boards were full and the Whittell girls were state champions once again. But even the boys’ team got involved in the action.
Although the Warriors didn’t win a single event, solid results in several events led to a fifth-place finish by Whittell. Independence won the meet with 156 points and was followed by second-place White Pine (140 points) and third-place Battle Mountain (78).
Aided by junior Tyson Guajardo’s personal records in three events, the Warriors finished with 68 points. Guajardo took third in the 800-meter run (2:07.59), second in the 1,600-meter run (4:46.75) and third in the 3,200 (10:48.44). Whittell also had three relay teams finish third.
“Since it was the last meet of the season, I just wanted to perform my best,” said Guajardo, who ran the first leg on the 4×800 relay team that finished third. “I was happy that I got personal bests in all my events. I think we did a lot better than last year. Our strategy was pretty good, how we switched people in and out of the state meet compared with the zone meet.”
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