Young Whittell team looks to improve
After a knockout 2001 season, the boys cross country team at George Whittell High School looks to defend its 2A Northern League title this fall.
The team has more depth with 26 runners, compared with less than 20 a year ago, but it lost so many of its seniors and key runners, the outlook is uncertain.
It’s hard not to recall the runners of old looking at Whittell High School’s current squad, like two or three key figures are missing from a chess board.
A senior in 2001, Chad Gerken finished runner up at the 2001 NIAA 2A Northern League Boys Cross Country meet. Brian Beebe finished fourth; and Jarrett Guajardo finished seventh one spot ahead of then senior Ben Johnson.
It’s worth noting that the four boys went on to set a Nevada state record in track last spring in the 3,200-meter relay at the 2002 NIAA/U.S. Bank State Track and Field Championship.
It’s also significant that only Beebe will return.
Although the team is larger this year, it will miss the talent of Johnson and Gerken, who graduated, and Guajardo, who left the district.
The team will also miss senior experience.
Of the 19 runners on the boys team only Beebe is a senior.
During workouts that have the team headed to the beach to cool their muscles, stretch and unwind, Beebe is the unanimous leader.
“He works the hardest, and he’s definitely the most motivated,” said fellow senior Aly VanDeusen.
Beebe, however, is joined by senior Michael Komorowski, who was 15th at zone in 2001.
Daniel Mitchell, now a junior, finished 21 at zone and will also return to the team.
Also coming out to the boys team is Oscar Suarez.
Like Gerken, who came out for the track team his senior year, Suarez is coming out for cross country for similar reasons.
Only instead of using cross country to improve his performance in mountain biking, Suarez says he switched from soccer to cross country so that he can improve at track, a sport in which he wants to succeed this spring.
And Suarez has talent.
He finished second to Beebe in the the team’s annual Run Off, a loop near Whittell that sets the pecking order until the first meet at Galena.
Beebe finished first at 21 minutes, 33 seconds. Suarez finished runner up (23:12) and Sho Kashima, who has grown both in height and as a talented runner, finished third (23:17).
Daniel Mitchell and Justin Alexander finished fourth and fifth, respectively.
Compared to last year’s run off, Beebe trailed the top 2001 finisher by 10 seconds.
This team, however, began a week late, so third-year cross country coach Brian Rippet expects those times to drop substantially, and put the team back in the position it needs to be to make a run at zone.
The girls of 2001 were nearly as impressive as the boys, but fewer in number.
They finished second in the Northern region. Four girls cracked the top 15 at zone, including Christina Arana and Kim McGlothlin, at fifth and eighth, respectively. Both return to the team this year.
Arana will return as a sophomore to guide a full varsity of seven girls.
She finished as the top female in the Run Off at 28:20, beating last year’s top finisher by 39 seconds, despite the lag in practice time.
She finished well ahead of runner up VanDeusen at 29:57.
McGlothlin, who returns as a senior, did not start.
Rippet said the team’s key to success this year is continued improvement every week.
“Two years ago we had it. Last year we stagnated in the middle of the season … This year we need to get that fire back for improvement,” he said.
The team will face Galena this weekend, and establish the final two runners in the boys varsity.
Their first home meet is Sept. 6 at 3:30 p.m.
Cross Country Schedule
Aug. 30 at Galena Galena Opener 3 p.m.
Sept. 6 Whittell Warrior Warpath 3:30 p.m.
Sept. 13 at N. Tahoe Mountain Motivational 3 p.m.
Sept. 20 at Incline Incline Invitational 4 p.m.
Sept. 25 at Mammoth Mammoth Lakes Dual 3 p.m.
Sept. 27-28 Open
Oct. 5 at Half Moon Bay Artichoke Invitational 9 a.m.
Oct. 9 at Incline Incline Invitational 3:30 p.m.
Oct. 11 at Fernley Vaquero Trail 5:45 p.m.
Oct. 18 S. Tahoe S. Tahoe Dual 3 p.m.
Oct. 24 Whittell Warrior Warpath 3 p.m.
Nov. 2 at Carlin Zone 10 a.m.
Nov. 9 at Boulder City State 9 a.m.
Coach: Brian Rippet, third season coaching Whittell and sixth overall
Last year: First in league; only one senior cracked the top 20 at state
Key returners: Brian Beebe, Michael Komorowski, Justin Alexander,Kim McGlothlin, Christina Arana, Mike Chilton and Sho Kashima
Key to success: Continued improvement every week
Opener: Aug. 30 at Galena at 3 p.m., first home meet Sept. 6 at 3:30 p.m.
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