Whittell track off and running in 2016 season under direction of Bryant
The Whittell track and field team nearly lost its 2016 season due to the lack of a coach. Then a familiar face stepped in.
Phil Bryant, who has coached the Warriors’ football team for the last two years and the boys basketball team for the past four seasons, is now head coach of the school’s track team. Whittell opened its campaign under Bryant at the Yerington Relays on March 19, and it competed in the Fallon Elks Invitational last Saturday, March 26.
“We are really happy with the progress and the results the team has had so far in the season,” Bryant said.
Whittell had its track and field coaching position listed on the Douglas County School District website leading up to the season, but was unable to attract a qualified coach. That opening coincided with one in Bryant’s schedule, leading him to apply for the job.
“I had some limited track coaching experience, but a long history of coaching,” said Bryant, who led Whittell to a state title in basketball and runner-up finish in football this past season. “Some of the athletes came to me and asked if I would do it — and since I had time, I agreed.
“I have my spring full and I am having fun with this group as they work hard and improve. Isn’t that what coaching is really about?”
The Warriors have battled inclement weather at the start of the season, but were able to get some days in at the South Tahoe Middle School track. There, Whittell’s new coach and its athletes got some help from their crosstown counterparts at South Tahoe.
Bryant’s coaching staff includes Ian Allen as an assistant coach. The Whittell alum was an assistant coach with the Warriors’ football team in 2015, and ran track during his time at WHS.
“They have been great in providing additional ‘coaching’ to our athletes in areas I was not familiar with,” Bryant said.
On the girls side, Whittell is led by strong relay teams. In the 4×100, the quartet of junior Sammy Forvilly, freshman Anna White, freshman Shaylie Rippett and junior Michelle Barnes turned in a time of 55.66 at the Yerington Relays — currently the event’s fastest Div. IV Northern Region and State time.
The Warriors’ 4×400 girls relay team is also first in its division in both the region and state with a time of 4:38.97 run by Forvilly, Barnes, White and senior Kate Krolicki. That team of sprinters has already delivered strong individual results in various events this season — Barnes and White in the 100, Forvilly in the 300 hurdles and 400, and Krolicki in the 400.
“Michelle and Sammy just need to believe in themselves more and take their natural talent to the highest level,” Bryant said. “Michelle is a powerful runner who just lacks confidence in runs over 100 meters, and Sammy is smooth as silk when she runs and is working on improving her endurance.”
In the distance events, Senior Mary Sanchez and sophomore Ojesa Kwong have shown steady improvement. At the Fallon meet, Kwong cut 12 seconds off her 1,600 time. Sophomore Madison Duncan is also running for Whittell, and trying out different distances to see which is the best fit.
“We believe all these girls are going to get faster as the season goes on, and we hope the times will reflect the effort they put in,” Bryant said.
The Warriors have limited numbers on the boys side, but are working hard despite a lack of competitors. Senior Aubrey Felton is one of the team’s leaders, competing in the long jump, high jump, triple jump and running whatever event he’s put in — last week it was the 200, where he ran a 26.21 that is currently seventh in Div. IV Northern Region.
“He is right up there with his field events and will be a strong competitor in those at zone,” Bryant said.
One of Whittell’s biggest surprises early on has been sophomore Nick Petty. The first-year competitor came out late to the team, and has shown a natural talent in the 800 and 1,600. Petty has already recorded a 2:31 in the 800 and 5:21 in the mile.
“He hasn’t learned the strategy of those events yet, but he has recorded (good results) by just running next to other runners,” Bryant said. “He will definitely be under five minutes later in the season.”
On the track, senior Andy Delgado primarily runs in the 400 and 800. Sophomore Noah Dodge, junior Kristian Landing and senior Gabe Rusk are also running for the Warriors this season.
Whittell returns to action April 8 in the Vern Regier Invitational at Orland High (Calif.). The Warriors have six regular season meets scheduled before the Div. IV Northern Region championships May 13 at Yerington.