Truckee track nearing end of long road to State
The late great Bill Bowerman, founder of Nike and coach of the legendary Steve Prefontaine, was known to have said, “If you can find meaning in the absurd pursuit of running you can find meaning in another absurd pursuit, life itself.”
At the beginning of each track season 50 or more Truckee High athletes find their way to the team meeting. Some arrive with purpose, with meaning, and some do not.
The coach-athlete relationship then becomes one of discovering and defining or refining each individual athlete’s meaning, the reason they are on the team in the first place and the means of accomplishing their goals. For a small group of Truckee athletes ” 11 boys and 5 girls ” the meaning has now become to compete well at the Nevada State Track and Field Championships on Friday and Saturday at Damonte Ranch High School in Reno.
Most recently the road to state has made several stops across Nevada’s high desert with meets at Douglas for the Big George Invitational, in Yerington for the Yerington Relays and the Northern Regional Championships at Lowry.
At the Big George Invitational on April 26, with the team reduced in size by commitments to prom, the frosh-soph boys team continued to stand out. Racing against 4A schools, the boys distance runners showed why they can be considered one of the top programs around. Freshman Tyler Brooks, competing in his first high school 3,200 (two-mile), raced to a third-place finish overall and first place among 3A schools. Sophomore Chris Gallagher learned a valuable lesson about racing when he took control of his 1,600-meter race on the final lap only to be nipped at the finish line, giving him the silver medal. In the boys 800, sophomore Vince Shaffer outdistanced the field with a strong kick to win gold.
The following week at the Yerington Relays, which also served as a league-qualifying meet, Truckee athletes found out where they stood against the other 3A schools. Freshman Katelyn Collier ran personal bests in the 100 and 200 while freshman Kelsey Decker raced to a fourth-place finish in the girls 100 and a 10th-place finish overall in the 200.
Senior Lindsay Holt earned a silver medal in the high jump along with sixth place in both the 200 and 400. Sophomore Citlali Hernandez continued to show impressive improvement, racing to PRs in both the 1,600 and 3,200. Versatile senior athlete Melanie Lashbrook earned seventh in the girls shot put and 11th in the long jump while running strong legs in the relays.
On the boys’ side, senior standout Max Salinger completed one of the better single-day meet performances for a Truckee athlete in sometime, placing third in the 1,600, second in the 800 and second in the 400 along with a fast opening leg of the 4×400 relay. His efforts left him seeded first in the 400 and 800 and second in the 1,600 entering zones. Micah Silver would also have an outstanding day, leaving him seeded first in the 1,600 and second in the 800.
The final stop on the road to state found the tracksters at Lowry in what would be the final meet for some. With a third-place finish in the 110 hurdles, senior Kalei Cofer will represent Truckee at State for the fourth consecutive year. In addition, Cofer will team up with other lady speedsters in the 4×200 relay. Holt earned two bronze medals in the high jump and 200 and will join Cofer, Decker and Lashbrook in the 4×200.
Scratches on all three attempts in the long jump prevented “iron woman” Lashbrook from completing a rare double in track and field. She would go on to finish fourth in the girls shot put and run strong legs in qualifying for both the 4×200 and 4×400.
Decker continued to show why she is an athlete to watch, running an impressive leg in the 4×400 along with her ninth place in the 100 and eighth place in the 200.
Another freshman standout, Kelsey Falkenberg, in a season filled with obstacles, ran personal bests in both the 400 and in her 4×400 relay leg and will join teammates Lashbrook, Decker and Holt on Friday night in the evening’s concluding event, the 4×400.
After recording the fastest leg in Truckee’s second-place finish in the 4×800, Silver would come back to garner his team’s only gold medals.
In the 1,600 (one-mile) Silver found himself in a race with Dayton’s Ingersol after the two had broken away from the field halfway through. But Silver finally broke Ingersol with 500 meters to go to capture the gold. On Day 2 of the meet, attempting a grueling double with the 800 followed thirty minutes later by the 3,200, Silver led a Truckee threesome to an unprecedented finish in the 800.
Coming out of the final turn, a river of red dominated the track with Silver, Salinger and Shaffer running one, two three, respectively. In an outstanding effort, Shaffer would PR by several seconds to earn fourth and qualify for State, just behind Salinger in third and Silver in second as preseason favorite Dallin Morris of Spring Creek out-kicked the field in the last 100 meters to earn the gold.
Silver would return minutes later to run a tactical 3,200.
Sitting on two-time 3A cross country champion Matt Pike’s shoulder for the first mile and a half, Silver made a powerful move to distance himself from the field with just over 800 meters left and race to an easy win and his second gold medal.
Freshman standout Tyler Brooks just missed qualifying in the 3,200 with a sixth-place finish and a personal best, followed by Gallagher in seventh place, also with a personal best.
Salinger, coming into the championship meet seeded first in both the 400 and 800 and second in the 1,600, refused to let fate have its way. After suffering from a debilitating flu and missing a week of practice prior to the meet, Salinger summoned the will to qualify in the 4×800, the 800 and the 1,600. His valiant effort would fall short in his attempt to qualify for three individual events as his tired legs could not break into the top five in his 400.
The boys also had a strong showing in the sprint events.
Senior Kevin Wood holds claim to Truckee High’s fastest person as he placed third in the 100 and will play an important role in the sprint relays. Sophomore Cory Sharp earned a championship berth with a fifth-place finish in the 200. Sharp will be joined by Tucker Ballister, CJ Ackerman and Evan Hyland as Truckee’s relay teams earned a second place in the 4×100, a third in the 4×200 and 4×400, with Shaffer as a member of the 4×400 team.
The road to state ends as Friday kicks off the two-day Nevada State Track and Field Championship at Damonte Ranch High School. Truckee kick off the competition at 3:30 p.m. with its boys 4×800 team composed of Shaffer, Gallagher, Silver.
And for those who have found it difficult to find meaning in the absurd pursuit called life, maybe try running.
The Truckee and North Tahoe High track teams will compete in the State Championship at Damonte Ranch High School on Friday and Saturday. For a complete schedule of events, visit http://www.niaa.com.
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