With numbers up, WHS girls may make run at first state title
Look back at the 32-year history of Nevada high school girls’ track and field and the Whittell High girls are conspicuously missing from the list of state champions.
While the Warrior boys have secured three state championships, the Zephyr Cove school’s girls have treated the spring sport like setting their alarm clocks for 3 a.m. on a Saturday – I’ll pass.
But Whittell is finally giving the sport some love this spring and don’t be surprised if the Warriors make a serious run at that elusive championship.
“My very first year we had three girls out,” said fifth-year coach Brian Rippet. “With any sport it takes a while for momentum to build. The next year we had 10 and then they we were hanging out in the teens.”
Don’t look now but 25 girls – and a core as talented as any in the Nevada 2A ranks – are ready to run, jump and put the Warriors into the record books.
“It’s a huge team and I think we are going to be really successful this season,” said sophomore Katrina Kacirek, who was largely responsible for Whittell finishing fifth at state last year. “The team has more depth and more people who are really into the sport.”
Kacirek has won three individual state titles in two years and there is no reason why she won’t continue to add to her collection.
However, Kacirek isn’t as concerned about personal success this year as she is a team goal.
“I really want to win state with our 4 x100 relay team because the last two years we have been disqualified at zone,” she said of the team’s inability to pass the baton in the required passing zone.
Juniors Meri Johnson, Casey Brumbach and Jessica Woods are members of the relay team as well.
Kacirek raised her school record in the triple jump to 35 feet, 4 inches in the first meet last Saturday in Hawthorne and has her eyes set on 36 feet before the season ends. The lanky and explosive Kacirek entertains the goal of surpassing her long jump record of 16-2 and bettering her 100-meter time in the 13s.
The addition of Woods to the squad has already been noticeable. She beat Kacirek in the long jump at Hawthorne and gives Rippet another all-around athlete capable of scoring points in bunches.
“I definitely tried to get her to do track,” Kacirek said. “I don’t know who all influenced her, but I think I had a little bit to do with that.”
The pair already has won back-to-back state championships on the volleyball court, giving the team a sense that anything is possible.
Besides the 400 relay, high jump and long jump, Woods will compete in the 100 hurdles.
“She has great flexibility,” said Rippet about using Woods in the hurdles.
Johnson and Brumbach give the Warriors additional sprinting and jumping potential. Johnson competes in the high jump, 200 and 400 meters, while Brumbach is penciled in for the 300 hurdles and a combination of the 100, 200 and 400 meters.
In addition to their strength in the sprints and jumping events, the Warriors should succeed in the events few athletes gravitate to – the distance runs.
Junior Kristin Kline and Danielle Daly, who led the Warriors to the state cross country title in the fall, are serving as solid role models for talented freshmen Krista Castro and Alana Lee.
“What they have done has been infectious. They work and train hard every day,” Rippet said.
Lee and Castro combined to win three races last week at Hawthorne and were part of the triumphant 4×800 relay.
The Karmann sisters, Kristin and Kelly, give the Warriors a solid base of throwers. Kristin, a senior, has qualified for state in shot put the past three years.
The Whittell boys haven’t won a state title since 1988 but a state runner-up finish in cross country in the fall gives the Warriors a good starting point to build a contender.
Jeremy Worley, who qualified for the state mile and two mile a year ago, is expected to fill the void of two-time state winner Oscar Suarez, who graduated.
Worley, however, must first fend off the challenge from sophomore teammate Tyson Guajardo. Guajardo beat Worley in both distance races at Hawthorne and his relay split was better as well.
“There will be some more competition in practice and at meets than first expected,” Rippet said. “Jeremy was fired up this week because he lost to Tyson and Tyson has been hanging tough and no defaulting to Jeremy as the leader.”
The Warriors’ other big point getter will be Jake O’Malley, whose assortment of events includes the 100, high jump and long jump. Worley scored 26 points in the opening meet to lead the Warriors to a runner-up finish.
Other Warriors to watch are juniors Dave Sabastina and Chris Craig.
Whittell Track Schedule
Date Meet Time
Saturday Fernley 9 a.m.
April 9 Reed 9 a.m.
April 16 Smith Valley 9 a.m.
April 22 Chico TBA
April 23 Pyramid Lake 9 a.m.
April 30 Yerington 9 a.m.
May 7 Lowry 9 a.m.
May 13-14 Division (Lowry) TBA
May 20-21 State, Las Vegas TBA
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