The Raiders will still be expected to score some points at regionals and state, but most of their dominance will be done on the track, while the field events took a big hit when the reigning Northern 4A Field Athlete of the Year, Nyasha LeSure, chose to focus on basketball. Since she has a full scholarship to play for Nevada next year, it’s understandable her priorities lie there.
“We wish it was a trio, but Nyasha wanted to focus on basketball instead,” Reed track coach Dale Moss said. “That’s actually a huge deficit in points when it comes down to regionals. We have some other people we feel will step up, not necessarily fill her shoes, but make up some of what she would have given us. We’re sorry she’s not there, but you have to respect her and her decisions because her future is spoken for now.”
However, Reed still has sophomore Gabby Williams and junior Adrianna Newell back. They were the Northern 4A Athlete of the Year and Runner of the Year respectively. Williams was also named the Gatorade Nevada Girls Track and Field Athlete of the Year for her freshman year efforts after winning the state high jump and finishing second and third in the 100m and 300m hurdle events.
Over the summer, at the 2011 AAU Junior Olympic Games Track & Field/Multi-Events Championships in New Orleans, Williams took second at her age level in the girls high jump by clearing 5 feet 8 inches. She also claimed third in the Intermediate girls Heptathlon, a collection of seven events: the 100-meter dash, the high jump, the shot put, the 200-meter dash, the long jump, the javelin and the 800 meters.
At state, Newell was the runner-up in the 400m, third in 100m and was part of the runner-up 4x400m relay squad.
While Moss expects Williams and Newell to compete in the same events as last year, they might try some new events to switch up things. Moss said Williams’ win in the 800 meters in the heptathlon during the summer might have sparked an interest in a new event for Williams.
Williams and Newell put in the work to stay in shape so they can perform at the highest level. That’s what Moss likes about the duo.
“The time they put in not only for track, but also to be physically and mentally healthy, it’s year round,” Moss said. “It goes beyond what most people expect. That’s what makes them what they are. It makes them natural leaders. People look up to them.”
It will be hard to replace the points LeSure would have added from her competing in the jumps, but Moss believes senior Sierra Hooft can help.
Hooft won’t compete in the jumps — that will be junior Cassie Jacobsen — but she is a strong hurdler and an asset in the relays. Moss said Hooft’s versatility could lead her being thrown into the occasional 800m or even the 400m.
Juniors Tiare Fonoimoana and Cherish Navarroza are expected to add strength to the relay squads.
On the boys side, leading the way is senior Josh Gingras, last year’s state runner-up in the 200 meters. He also qualified for state in the 100m and was part of the 4x100m relay that claimed second at state.
“We’re looking for big things out of him in leading the boys team as far as the sprinters go,” Moss said.
Cody Forman will look to anchor the distance runners, who currently is in the top 5 in his events.
The Raiders also have a strong field athlete in senior Spencer Stockton. He’s recovering from a broken foot, but Moss expects him back and competing in the long jump, the discus, the high jump and the relays. Stockton also competed at the AAU Junior Olympic Games Track & Field/Multi-Events Championships this past summer in the Decathlon.
A pleasant surprise has been discus thrower senior Sam Nichols, who is in the top two in Northern Nevada so far this spring.
“The boys are way more well-rounded than we expected heading into the year,” Moss said. “We’re talking about a lot more balance versus the girls who are sprinter and hurdler heavy.”
Anticipation is high at the other 4A school in the Rail City.
The Cougars have two new head coaches in Winston Mora and James Panfield. Mora has been an assistant with the program for five years, so his transition to one of the dual head coaches hasn’t been difficult.
“The kids know me. They know how I operate,” Mora said. “I don’t feel any pressure so to speak from taking over the program.”
Mora singled out Jake Fleming in the distance events and jumping specialist Vance Lively as returners with strong chances to score points at regionals. Lively enjoyed last year‘s regional meet by qualifying for state in three events, taking first in the long jump to go along with third-place finishes in the high jump and triple jump.
Shamir Geisinger and Sam Preciado are young athletes with a lot of potential this year according to Mora. Geisinger will compete in the 100-meter and 200-meter dashes, while Preciado’s specialty is the 400m.
Mora said he’s also looking forward to seeing how the 4x100m and the 4x200m relays perform this year.
On the girls side, state qualifier Katie Peters is back and ready to lead the distance runners. Shanice Mora and Kylie Baer will lead the sprinters.
“I’m looking forward to a good season this year. I think we have athletes who will perform well,” Mora said.
Mora’s main goal is to bring more athletes to state this season.
In the 3A, Sparks has been forced to go into rebuilding mode.
“Our numbers are significantly down from where they’ve been the past few years,” Sparks track and field coach Adam Barrett said. “We’re pretty much just trying to rebuild this year. We’ve got a lot of young guys. We have a real good freshman boy, we’re looking for some good things from. Our strongest runner returning is actually on the girls side, and that’s Emma Clune.”
Barrett said numbers are down because some athletes didn’t want to come out for the team, while grades also made kids ineligible.
It has changed the way Barrett coaches this year.
“I went back to being very instructional, back to basics with everybody,” he said. “Pretty much everybody we’ve got are first-year people. We’re teaching them how to run. We didn’t really have the returners to demonstrate technique and help bring those young kids around. I’ve had to go back to being very basic with them, a lot of one-on-one stuff. It’s been easy being one-on-one since we have such little numbers right now.”
Moises Collavo is the freshman standout for the Sparks boys. Barrett said he’s starting to get the hang of the triple jump, which is an event the Railroaders have historically performed well. He’s also caught on to the hurdle events and is good in the events where you need a strong technique.
The top returner for the boys is senior Erik Garcia, who qualified for state as a member of a relay team. He came close to qualifying in the high hurdles and the long jump, but he also high jumps.
Clune was the state runner-up in the 200 meters behind teammate Lisa Aguilar, who graduated last year. Clune made it to state in the 400m and was a member of the 4x200m relay.
“She’s been a state qualifier every year since her freshman year,” Barrett said of Clune, who is now a senior.
Barrett looks forward to the Fallon Invite this weekend to see where his kids stand compared to the rest of the 3A schools.