North Tahoe track preview: Lakers hope to carry on tradition without longtime coach

Luke Beasley
Sierra Sun
Sun File photoSenior James Laughlin returns as the Lakers' top thrower after winning both the shot put and discus at state last year. Laughlin heaved the shot put 50 feet, 7 inches at zones as a junior " just 4 feet short of the school record of 54 feet, 7 inches.

With the retirement of head coach Warren Mills ” a man who is to the North Tahoe track team what John Wooden was to UCLA basketball ” former assistant coach Skip Piechocinski has assumed the head job and hopes to continue the program’s winning ways.

“There’s no way that I can fill his shoes, and no one around here could,” Piechocinski said. “But you don’t try to replace him, you just try to do your thing and hope for the best. It’d be great to be half as successful as Warren has been.”

Luckily for Piechocinski, a wealth of top talent returns to both the boys and girls teams.

For the girls, three of the four runners from last year’s 3,200-meter relay state championship team are back ” sophomore Carly Leininger and juniors Maiya Greenwood and Sierra Postler. Individually, Leininger will make every effort to defend her state title in the 1,600-meter run. In the sprint events, Piechocinski is looking to juniors Heidi Schroepfer and Keely Marple.

The girls also have excellent depth in the throwing events, shot put and discuss, with senior Amy Leininger and junior Kea Jolicoeur both aiming for top results at the state meet. In the jumping events, Tannyr Pasvantis will lead the Lakers.

“The girls team can be very competitive,” Piechocinski said. “With only about 15 girls, we don’t have a lot of depth to work with, but the talent is there to place at state.”

On the boys side, discus and shot put state champion James Laughlin headlines a strong group of throwers.

“Obviously, we’ve got James, but we also have a bunch of throwers just now coming up, including Brandon Norris and a few others,” said Piechocinski, who has worked for several years with the throwing program.

Sophomore Carson Clark placed fourth in the 3,200-meter run as a freshman and will look to climb onto the podium this year. Other top returners in the track events include sophomores Jonathan Adams and Luke Funicella and juniors Forrest Wiens and Angel Gonzales.

“Our strength is going to be in the throws, but we’ve got some guys who can step in other spots,” Piechocinski said. “The guys team isn’t as deep, but we hope some newcomers can fill in some gaps.”

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