Whittell track coaches capture athletes’ best | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Whittell track coaches capture athletes’ best

Steve Yingling

OK, Whittell High track and field fans, answer this one: Have there been more Warrior track and field coaches or state medals in the five years prior to this season?

Well, if you said coaches, you’re right. In the five seasons preceding this season, the Warriors had five different coaches and won only a combined three medals at the state meet.

There’s no intention to poke fun at the athletes that competed for Whittell during that time because there were some good ones – Laura Spear and Skye McEntire, to name a few. But during that period the athletes didn’t have the continuity of direction they needed.

The track and field post has been one of the final positions filled during the spring and one that is reluctantly accepted.

Until now.

Dan Makley and Dan McLaughlin have turned back the clock to a time when Whittell was feared at state track and field meets.

Whittell’s five medals Saturday at the Nevada 3A state meet were the

most by a Warrior team since 1991 when Ryan Forvilly single-handedly won three events.

Moreover, there was balance in scoring for the boys and girls. Both teams placed 12th overall. That’s amazing considering that only a few years ago, the boys squad went through a four-year scoreless stretch at state.

“It’s really exciting and I know it’s just going to get better. We’re building up a good team,” said Whittell sophomore runner Sarah Sufka, who placed third in the 400 and 800 meters on Friday and Saturday.

Sufka knows what she’s talking about.

Only two Warriors state participants, including one medalist, are scheduled to graduate in the spring. Add some more seasoning to the newfound confidence and the Warriors should rival the fifth-place showing by Forvilly and company at the 1991 state meet.

“Now that they’re able to think like that, I’m proud of that. Part of the process is learning that they belong in the upper echelon of track and field and learning that they don’t have to come in last,” Makley said.

Makley, however, is the contingency in these wonderful proceedings. He resigned after only one season in 1994 and two down seasons ensued.

Few may remember that Makley was the coach the last time Whittell enjoyed some success at a state meet. His girls 400- and 800-meter relay teams, which were comprised of McEntire, Spear, Jill Darby and Katy Tanner, set two school records en route to placing second and third at the 1994 meet.

Both Makley and McLaughlin have their athletes’ respect.

One of the first comments out of triple jump champion Mark Witte’s mouth on Saturday was the fact that he couldn’t have done it without the help of his coaches. Not many athletes say that nowadays.

“He’s a great coach. I was so excited when I learned he was coming to coach us,” Sufka said. “He knows everything about the sport, and he’s just helped everybody. He’s a big motivator.”

In the Warriors’ weekend in the sun – I know, it was chilly, windy and rainy – Makley gave his athletes all of the credit for their successes.

“They just have a good team attitude. (At zone and last Friday and Saturday) they got paid back for all of their hard work,” Makley said. “I was trying to tell them back in March that track an field is a hard sport. But if you can do it, it might be worth it at the end.”

Let’s hope the end is nowhere in sight. The Whittell track and field team sorely needs someone like Makley for direction, self-esteem and respect.

Come on, Dan, sign a five-year contract!

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