‘Road’ Warriors hope to pave path to states
Whittell track and field coach Dan Makley has set three goals for the 1999 season: 1) increase the team’s size, 2) have every runner put up a personal best, and 3) send 15 athletes to the state tournament in May.
Now comes the hard work.
“It’s good to have goals going into the season, it gives you something to shoot for,” Makley said. “If we could get two out those three, I’d be satisfied.”
As a four-year varsity athlete, senior Sarah Sufka is the standard-bearer for the Whittell track and field program. She is the 3A defending state champion in the 800 meters and was third in the 400 meters last season. Sufka, who also played basketball and volleyball for the Warriors, recently signed a letter of intent to run track for Azusa Pacific, a small Christian school near Los Angeles.
Though the Warriors took 12 athletes to the state tournament last season, Sufka hopes 1999 might be the year where the Warriors can muster the team depth to win some meets.
“I want our team to win a meet this season,” Sufka said. “We always have kids finish in first place in a meet, so it’s not a lack of talent. It’s usually just a lack of numbers, not desire.”
Makley wouldn’t venture a guess on a possible win, but he thinks his the team can improve on the 12 athletes they sent to the state event last season. The squad set 10 as the 1998 preseason and has upped that total to 15 for this spring.
“I’m highly optimistic,” Makley said. “In fact, I’m almost certain that we’ll have a higher percentage of our kids go to state … than we’ve done in a long time.”
Senior Bob Linkul, who played center for the Whittell boys basketball team, placed third at states in discus and broke the school record in a successful 1998 season. Sprinters Adrian Norman and Chauncey Lane hope to rekindle the speed that propelled them to second in division and eight in states last season. Makley also expects to have a quality distance running group and is very optimistic about the prospects for his 1,600 relay team.
Makley speaks highly of sophomore hurdler Luke Forvilly, who went to the state championships in 1998 in both the 300-meter and 110-meter hurdles. Makley called that feat “unheard of for a freshman,” and hopes to see more of the same from Forvilly this season.
“Luke has the opportunity to really make a mark this year,” Makley said. “He’s working hard. He’s learning. He’s improving his technique and he’s so naturally talented”
Other promising Warriors include hurdler Michael DeLeon, who just missed state last season. Distance runner Nathan Porter made great strides in the offseason, and Karin Kaleta may have a shot at breaking the school record in the high jump.
The Whittell tracksters are road warriors. Literally. The team will begin its season Saturday at Hawthorne. From there, they head to Fernley on March 20, Fallon March 27, Manogue April 3, Yerington April 10, Reed April 17, … well, you get the point.
“We always travel. In fact, we probably won’t see our track until late April the way it’s going,” Makley said. “It’s hard to believe, isn’t it?”
The closest Whittell will get to a home date is the second-annual “Battle of the Lake” meet against South Tahoe High at South Tahoe Middle School. In addition to South Tahoe and Whittell, Kingsbury, South Tahoe and St. Theresa’s middle schools will send competitors to the contest.
The event is the brainchild of Whittell track assistant Anthony Davis, who is in his 10th season coaching in the area and his first with the Warriors. The races will feature ‘elite’ divisions, where athletes closing in on state championship berths can strut their stuff in front of a hometown crowd.
“What we want to do for this event is build in to it,” Davis said. “We want to make this event the big thing for kids who run track in Lake Tahoe.”
Coach: Dan Makley
Key Returning Athletes: Michael DeLeon (hurdler), Nathan Porter (distance), Bob Linkul (discus); Adrian Norman (sprinter), Chauncey Lane (sprinter), Luke Forvilly (hurdler) Karin Kaleta (two-time state high jumper), Sarah Sufka (400, 800), Erin Zaskoda (triple jump)
1998 Top State Finishes:
Sarah Sufka, Sr., 1st, 800; 3rd, 400
Bob Linkul, Sr., 3rd, discus (broke school record last year)
Adrian Norman, Sr., 8th, 400 relay (second in division)
Chauncey Lane, 8th, 400 relay (second in division)
Luke Forvilly, So., 7th, 300 and 110 hurdles
Top Newcomers: Matt Wiggins, middle distance, transfer from New Mexico
Season Opener: Saturday, 9 a.m. at Hawthorne
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