At first glance, the potential for the Reed girls squad is as high as its been in years.
It comes down to two athletes — sophomore Gabby Williams and junior Adriana Newell, who own the top marks in their respective events.
“Adrianna came into my class this morning and had a big smile on her face because she goes online and checks that stuff all the time,” Reed track and field coach Dale Moss said. “That puts them in a good position. They worked their butts off to do that kind of stuff. They deserve the right to be in that position. Everybody has to chase them now.”
The duo likely won’t be challenged by anyone from the Sunrise Region, but that’s not who the Raiders are worried about. It’s all about Sunset Region champion Centennial, which scored 88.5 points more than its nearest competitor at regionals last week.
The promising part for Reed is Williams and Newell are the top seeds in their six individual events. If it all plays out that way, that would be 60 points for the Blue and Gold right there. Reed scored 59 points a year ago with only one win and finished fourth.
That has the athletes excited for this weekend’s two-day meet at Damonte Ranch.
“It’s a big deal because she (Williams) just got done winning basketball state, and I said we need a track banner,” Newell said. “I’m just excited to compete. Last week I was so nervous for regional finals. This week, I want state to be tomorrow because I’m just excited to run and have good competition up here.”
Williams isn’t expected to be challenged in the high jump after clearing 6 feet, 1½ inches to win the regional championship. She will try to go even bigger this week and look to break the world record (6-2.25) at her age group..
“I didn’t even think I was going to get that. I’m hoping I can go higher. It depends on how I’m feeling. I’ll be warmed up because I have to do hurdles first,” Williams said. “I definitely had to pinch myself. It never crossed my mind how big that jump actually is.”
Last year at state, Williams went up against a couple seniors that kept her from winning her two hurdles events. This spring is shaping up much different.
Centennial has another strong hurdler in sophomore Tiana Bonds. However, Williams enters state as the favorite. Williams ran a 14.16 in the 100m hurdles and a 42.64 in the 300m hurdles last week, while Bonds was slightly slower at 14.50 and 44.75 seconds.
“This year it feels good. There’s a little more weight on my shoulders, but I’m not stressing too bad about it,” Williams said of being the favorite. “I just have to do what I’ve got to do in order to stay competitive.”
Watching Newell run the 400 meters, it’s easy to understand why her time is more than two seconds better than anyone else in the state. It’s the shorter sprints that could get exciting.
Last week, Newell ran a 12.12 in the 100 meters, while Centennial’s Tamera Williams clocked in a wind-aided 12.17 to win her regional crown. The Centennial junior’s time in the 200 meters was less than a half second slower than Newell’s
“I feel like my (100 and 200) are going to be close races,” Newell said. “I’m confident. I think I’ve worked hard, so I think it will all work out the way I want it to. In the 400, I’m looking to beat my time and another record.”
Williams and Newell are also part of the 4x400m relay squad that finished second Saturday at regionals despite dropping the baton and falling way behind. Friday night, fans will see if they can rebound from that disappointment as the Raiders hope to make the most of their second chance and possibly secure another event championship.
“They love to run it under the lights, which is nice because it adds a little bit more electricity to the air of the event,” Moss said. “That’s how we ran our 3:55 at night under the lights at Sacramento. It makes it a little more exciting and fun.”
What hurts Reed this year is a lack of depth. Two state qualifiers from last year failed in their bid to return in a few events. Senior Nyasha LeSure is back in the high jump also and has the talent to take second again. Reed also has a 4x100m relay that will need a strong performance to make up ground against the six teams that ran faster times last week.
It was breezy Monday during practice, but the weekend is shaping up nicely. Saturday is definitely looking to be the nicer of the two days during competition, but Moss doesn’t think weather will play a huge factor.
“Wind can always play a factor. Temperature wise, it usually is, but we’ve been dealing with temperatures in the 80’s now for three weeks,“ Moss said. “I don’t think it’s as extreme as it was last year when we were up here in the North and were barely hitting 70 degrees and we went down there and it was almost 90 degrees. It plays a huge difference. Wind is always a key factor. Heat doesn’t affect the sprints as much, but if they don’t take care of themselves and stay hydrated, then yes it will be a factor. We’ve been coaching them up on that the past few weeks.”