Warriors have horses to repeat
Numbers can be deceiving. Take Whittell High’s 13 total cross country runners for instance.
Those slim pickings could produce two state championship titles this fall. The Whittell boys return three of their top five boys’ runners from last year’s state championship team – the first in Zephyr Cove in 25 years.
With state runner-up Tyson Guajardo returning for his senior season, and two other top-16 state performers back as well, the Warriors aren’t planning to surrender their state championship reign just yet.
“These kids are pretty motivated,” said veteran coach Lindsay Wines. “Tyson, David (King) and Willis (Hughes) missed winning state by two points (in 2004). Those three kids know what it takes. They are doing a great job motivating our younger kids.”
Hughes and King, who finished 11th and 16th, respectively, at state, will need to step up after the team lost Jeremy Bahr-Worley (seventh) and Chris Craig (ninth) to graduation. But Wines isn’t worried about them.
“David and Willis are running exceptionally well. They are having a fun competition between the two of them, which makes them work harder,” Wines said.
Freshman Adam Kingman is also fitting in nicely.
“He’s going to be a really solid No. 4 runner for us. He’s going to be a big help,” Wines said.
Seniors Ryan Bivens – a solid performer at state and regionals – and Chris Oznowicz and freshmen Adam Laub, Chris Crawford and Alan McCleod are also being counted on to contribute.
Guajardo, who broke a 5-minute mile during the 2005 track season, has an opportunity to become the school’s first inidvidual winner since 1980 when George Buchholz became the fourth Warrior in four years to capture state. Guajardo has struggled to stay healthy at the outset of the season.
“When he gets healthy, he’s such a hard worker. That’s something all of these boys are doing; they are all working hard in practice. Even the freshmen are trying to keep up with the three big guys and are doing a pretty good job staying close to them,” Wines said.
Like a year ago, the Whittell girls are struggling to avoid ghost runners. Four runners are out for the team, including returner Miranda Flores, a sophomore. Unlike higher classifications, Whittell can still compete in the larger meets without a team of five runners.
“It’s tough to compete (with the other fall sports),” Wines said. “Volleyball has a fantastic program with 26 girls and girls’ soccer has 24 girls out, so that’s 50 out of the 100 girls at the school.”
In addition, the Warriors must overcome the graduation of Kristin Kline, who placed ninth at state last year.
Whittell opens the season with its invitational Friday at 3:30 p.m. Ensuing Friday meets are at Incline and North Tahoe. A complete season schedule was not available at press time.