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Commentary: Sparks area produced potent prep powers this fall
by Dan Eckles - Commentary
Nov 22, 2013 | 1734 views | 0 0 comments | 27 27 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tribune file photo - Spanish Springs volleyball players celebrate a match victory last month. The Cougars won their third-straight league title this fall.
Tribune file photo - Spanish Springs volleyball players celebrate a match victory last month. The Cougars won their third-straight league title this fall.
It would be safe to say the Rail City's fall prep sport athletes had a pretty successful season. There were a few local teams that struggled, but for the most part, many teams were on the high end of the competitive spectrum and a few were even elite.

Here's a quick review a few.

•Spanish Springs girls golf: The Cougars captured their second-straight Nevada state large-school championship and junior Katrina Prendergast won the individual state title. Prendergast was just the third North player to capture an individual crown since Reed's Meg Krivanek, who won in 1986 and 1988. Galena's Lux Gill (2002) and Manogue's Alex Phillips (2008) were the other two.

Spanish Springs won every tournament it played in but one. The lone tourney it didn't win came after the Cougars were forced to disqualify the scores of their top two players after a rules interpretation didn't go the local school's way.

A nice cherry on top of the Cougars' campaign was they also earned the academic state championship.

•Spanish Springs boys soccer: The Cougars were unbeaten by a northern Nevada opponent in the regular season. Spanish Springs did fall to Wooster in the North Region final, but that was the SSHS crew's first loss to a Truckee Meadows team in more than year.

Prior to the regional final loss, the only even half blemishes on the Cougars' schedule were an Opening Day tie to eventual North champion Wooster and a midseason tie against Galena. The latter draw came in the afternoon following Spanish Springs' middle-of-the-night live TV assembly for Good Morning America. I think I saw the Sandman scurrying around in the Cougars' defensive backfield at Galena that day, so we'll cut them some slack.

Spanish Springs fell 2-0 last weekend in a state semifinal to eventual state champion Eldorado, but the Cougars had their chances. That loss ended a High Desert League championship season for SSHS. Still, it was nothing short of brilliant.

Spanish Springs coach Rob Moreland was named HDL coach of the year and rightfully so. Moreland may be the single best coaching hire the school's administration has made in the past 12 years. The boys soccer program has gone from a perennial cellar dweller to a regional power during his five-year tenure.

•Spanish Springs volleyball: Some onlookers probably thought the SSHS spikers would take a huge step backward and fall into the middle of the pack this fall. That was far from the case as the local squad shared a High Desert League crown and advanced to the regional final before falling to North champ Bishop Manogue.

Spanish Springs, which also won the state academic team title, won 20-plus matches for the third-straight season and was the lone northern Nevada team to beat Manogue this fall, taking a regular season match from the Miners.

Seniors Hannah Meadows, the HDL player of the year, and first-team middle blocker Gabby Szachara, a Nevada recruit, paced the Spanish Springs efforts all season. Spanish Springs, which won the state title in 2012, provided a heck of an encore season when many thought it would be just average.

•Sparks boys soccer: The Railroaders turned in another stellar season, cruising to a 17-4-1 season. Sparks, along with Truckee, have easily separated themselves as the class of the Div. I-A North ranks. The two schools continually blow out other league foes and often only get close matches against each other.

Two of the Railroaders' losses this season came to Truckee while the other two Sparks losses came to DI power Spanish Springs, in a non-league affair, and to SECTA in a state semifinal.

Frank Avilla has brought discipline and pride to the program that sees some of the area's top talent turn out every fall.

•Reed football: Of course the Raiders are the only fall sports team from Sparks still competing. The Raiders will play Carson tonight in the DI North title tilt. Reed is playing in its fourth regional final in the last five years. The RHS gridders have won a North crown in each of their three most recent trips to the championship affair.

A win would move Reed into a state semifinal Nov. 30 at a site TBD in Reno-Sparks.

While McQueen was a state power through the 1990s and into the first decade of the new millennium, the Lancers prowess has dwindled. Reed is now the class program in the North. Since 2003, Reed has won more games than any other large school in the North.

Veteran Reed coach Ernie Howren and his Raiders staff have definitely developed a winning formula that starts with their year-round work in the weight room and in non-contact drills.

Dan Eckles is the Sparks Tribune's Managing/Sports Editor. He can be reached via email at:
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