However, many of the athletes that earned points for the Purple and Silver have graduated. So what do the Cougars have in store for an encore?
“When you lose the likes of Justus Mora, Sullivan Stevens and Aaron Cross, those guys are pretty hard to replace,” SSHS track coach Pat McGuire said. “But we’re always looking at other areas. When you’re strong in sprints, sometimes the following year you will be stronger in other areas. I hate making predictions because that’s when they don’t come true. But third place last year, from 14th the year before, that’s a big leap.
“We’ve had more kids who didn’t do track as freshmen who suddenly came out. I’ve got a bunch of young hurdlers and when you have a state champion hurdler, they start to show up.”
It was quite the opposite for the Reed boys at the state track championships, earning only five points from long jumper Jesse Robards. That doesn’t stymie Raiders coach Dale Moss’s enthusiasm for this year’s potential.
“There’s a lot of potential. We’ve got about 77 boys and around 50 girls this year. We’ve got a lot of youth coming back. Our sophomore class is probably our biggest one for both boys and girls,” Moss said. “It will be interesting to see where we’ll compare to everyone else after this weekend. I’m kind of excited.”
Moss believes the boys will be led by hurdler Chris Imus, sprinter Josh Gingras, pole vaulter Brent Showalter and high jumper Irvin Ma. However, the core of the girls squad is a little easier to measure and Moss believes they might be able to hang with established programs like McQueen and Damonte Ranch.
The Reed girls return two of northern Nevada’s best natural athletes. Junior Nyasha LeSure will look to improve on the last two years’ second-place finishes in the high jump at state.
Sophomore Adriana Newell is also back. She was sick for last spring’s regional trials, so she could not compete in individual events at regionals or state. But Moss expects big things from her.
Another potential big scorer for Reed is freshman Gabby Williams, who made a name for herself already during the basketball season. Moss believes she and LeSure will battle each other for the high jumping title.
McGuire is hoping his girls can catch up to the boys in the success they’ve earned at state. Looking strong for the girls is senior Laura Voss. She has been to state every year and will look to be a four-time qualifier.
“We’ve got a lot of youngsters that no one knows who they are, but they will this year,” McGuire said.
Both Reed and Spanish Springs jumped into action this weekend in separate four-team meets that will act as a barometer of where the teams are compared to some of the area’s strongest programs.
The Raiders went to Reno and took on Wooster and Hug Saturday, while the Cougars challenged Manogue, McQueen and Galena.
In the 3A, Sparks is coming off strong showings at the regional and state track meets from a year ago and that has turned into an increased interest in the program. Sparks coach Adam Barrett said he had the largest turnout since he took over the program three years ago.
He expects the 4x100m and 4x200m boys relays to continue to be strong despite an injury that has already affected the 4x100m relay. Sparks has won the state championships in those relays the past two seasons, but Barrett expects Fallon and Elko to be strong in those events as well.
The Sparks girls also won those relays last season, but a bigger question mark is how they will replace the points scored by Gaby Diaz, a multiple state champion in her high school career.
“We’re not looking for one girl to replace all the production she had,” Barrett said. “She helped us in the 4x400, the 4x200, the 800 and the mile. She was a good leader. We have two good returners as far as leadership in Emma Clune and Lisa Aguilar. We have a lot of new girls coming out this year that I’ve been trying to talk into running for three years and finally came out. Put them all together and I think we will be able to replace the production of Gaby.”
Sparks hosted a meet with all the other Mt. Rose League schools Saturday. Sparks will also host the Rail City Track & Field Championships, sponsored by Scheels and the Sparks Tribune, on March 23.