Athlete of the Year | Truckee duo ran circles around competition
By the end of their junior years, Skyler Flora and Gabrielle Rinne had already established themselves as two of the most decorated athletes in Truckee High history. Their performances as seniors polished their legacy to shine for years to come.
The running standouts combined to earn 14 individual state titles in their high school careers and 28 state podium finishes between track and cross-country. They helped lead the Truckee girls to back-to-back state cross-country championships and set the fastest times in Nevada in their signature track events this season.
Safe to say, the Sierra Sun’s Female Athletes of the Year from Truckee High School will be missed.
“It’s going to be sad to say goodbye to them next week at our awards,” said Diana Yale, Truckee’s head track and field coach. “Both of these girls have shown a tremendous effort and dedication. They are role models. Kids aspire to be like them. When they see them run they are in awe. It’s inspiring to see.
“They helped put Truckee track and field — and cross-country — on the map.”
Indeed, the Wolverines became a state power in both sports during the pair’s four-year tenure. In addition to the consecutive cross-country team titles, Truckee’s girls finished second in the Division I-A track and field state championships each of the past two years, trailing only Faith Lutheran with its significantly larger team.
Rinne — a valedictorian with a 4.5 GPA — signed her National Letter of Intent this past November to run at Yale University. Flora signed her letter the same day after receiving a scholarship to University of California, Berkeley. Other Division I colleges that courted the two include UCLA, Duke, Dartmouth, Columbia and Cornell, among others.
After their signings, Flora and Rinne rounded out their high school careers with two titles apiece at the state meet in Las Vegas this spring — Rinne in the 800- and 1,600-meter runs, and Flora in the 3,200 and 4 x 800 relay.
Flora won the state title in the 3,200 three years in a row and broke her own DI-A state meet record this season, in 11:16.30. Her mark of 10:52.75, set at the Arcadia Invitational in April, is the top time in the 3,200 in Nevada this season, across all divisions.
Rinne’s time of 4:57.27 in the 1,600, which she set at the West Valley Invitational in May, is the top 1,600 time in Nevada across all divisions.
Over the years, that brand of success came to be expected by the Truckee tandem.
Tight friends since the third grade, Rinne and Flora began running competitively together at Alder Creek Middle School in the sixth grade. Both advanced to the Junior Olympic Nationals as seventh-graders and finished among the top 11 in the state championship cross-country meet as freshmen.
The next year as a sophomore, Flora placed second in the DI-A cross-country state championship. She then won the title her junior and senior years. In addition to her three-peat on the track in the 3,200, Flora also won the 1,600 title as a sophomore and junior and was part of the winning 4 x 800 team as a junior and senior. In all, she earned 10 individual state titles and 16 state podium finishes.
Rinne, who is more of a middle-distance specialist, earned four state titles in all and 12 state podium finishes. She placed runner-up to Flora each of the past two years in the state cross-country meet, while her personal record of 2:12.85 in the 800 is among the fastest times in Nevada history.
“I’m just blown away by them and their ability to do what they do, race after race,” said Yale, who has coached Rinne and Flora since their Alder Creek days. “They support each other on and off the track. They work together and never against each other. I think that has really helped them get better, to have someone else of their own caliber running side-by-side in workouts and at meets.”
Despite their exploits, Rinne and Flora never let the success go to their heads. They remained humble throughout their high school careers and led their peers by example. They left large shoes to fill, but that will only strengthen Truckee’s rising track and cross-country programs, Yale said.
“I think Truckee track and field will only grow and evolve — and these girls are a big reason why.”
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Students from North Tahoe and Truckee recently made the trip to Nevada Union High School in Grass Valley to compete in the annual Kays Ostrom Invitational.