I've been writing an end of the school year column for a few years now so it's becoming a bit of a tradition. I guess we'll just dive right in. Here's a few tid bits from the 2012-13 Sparks-area prep sports scene.
•I'll start with thank yous. From our Trib sports staff, thanks to all countless coaches, coach's spouses and youth sports volunteers in the area who help us out. Coaches, we appreciate you taking time to chat and comment on your athletes and their efforts. We know that's not always easy when you're on the short end of the score. Coaching spouses, thanks for answering our calls at odd hours, sometimes late, and getting your significant others to call us back. Volunteers, thanks for keeping stats and scorebooks, getting copies, opening locked doors and all the other countless ways you help us out.
•The Rail City saw a handful of state champions. The girls golf and volleyball teams at Spanish Springs High School took home state titles. Wrestlers, Tyler Beaulac at Spanish Springs and Spencer Empey at Reed get to call themselves Nevada's best. RHS track stars, sprinter Adriana Newell and discus thrower Brent Kelly, can call themselves the state's best as well. In the small school ranks, Zach Hunt of Excel Christian gets to put himself among the state's elite, too. He won the D-IV 1,600m and 3,200m.
•A few weeks ago, the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association hosted its annual northern Nevada Top 10 banquet, honoring some of the North's best student athletes. The honor nets those chosen a $1,500 scholarship among other prizes. A pair of standout Rail City athletes, Lyndsey Anderson of Spanish Springs and Empey from Reed, were bestowed with the award. The NIAA could not have cited two finer student athletes. Both are amazing athletes and exceptional students but both also find ways to give back through volunteer efforts in the community. Anderson even gave the Sparks Tribune a plug in her acceptance speech. You gotta like that!
•Our Tribune sports staff announced last week our annual athletes and teams of the year. The girls team award went to state champion Spanish Springs volleyball and the boys award went to state runner-up Sparks soccer. The girls athlete of the year went to Anderson and the boys athlete of the year was Reed's Devin Gray. These awards are given to the top teams and athletes from the three Sparks-area high schools, Reed, Spanish Springs and Sparks. The aforementioned teams and athletes put in a lot of hard work and shared a lot of positive team chemistry with coaches and other athletes to achieve their special success. Congratulations to you all.
•Another local squad that maybe did not quite have team-of-the-year success, but still did something special, was the Sparks girls softball team. After years of struggles, the Railroaders club won a Mount Rose League title and qualified for postseason play. It was the SHS crew's first postseason berth since 2006 and I believe just its second since 1996. Railroaders coach Frank Avilla and his team have put in countless hours in the summer and offseason to improve. It's shown and the team reaped the rewards with a league title. That had to feel good for a group that had struggled mightily in recent years and one not many gave much of a chance this spring.
•Lastly, Sparks has one of the most gifted high school athletes in the nation in a young woman named Gabby Williams. There is plenty of evidence to back that up. The Reed student athlete, who just completed her junior year, was fifth in the Olympic high jump trials last summer, earning alternate status on the United States Olympic team. She was also recruited for basketball and has given a verbal commitment to national powerhouse UConn. Williams tore her ACL in a league hoops game against Reno last January. The injury cost her a chance to help Reed defend its 2011-12 state hoops championship and she missed her junior track season. Our Trib sports staff wishes her well and nothing but good luck in her rehabilitation efforts and on the road to recovery.
Dan Eckles is the Sparks Tribune's Managing/Sports Editor. He can be reached via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.