Truckee sports year in review
Truckee breeds sport. The relationship between fitness and the lush terrain found in this niche of the Sierra Nevada mountains consistently makes for teams and individuals that excel in sport. 1999 was no exception.
In the year-end tally, Tahoe-Truckee high school mustered four more state championship titles. Adding to the six they were awarded in 1998, the Wolverines have had eight different sports’ teams achieve championship status in the two years preceding the new century.
The boys’ varsity soccer team is Truckee’s newest champion. In a highly emotional game against the North Tahoe Lakers, the Wolverines prevailed, 2-1, having gained, along with the state title, retribution for the 1998 state final loss to virtually the same Laker team.
Truckee’s girls’ golf team successfully defended its 1998 state title while the boys’ Nordic Ski team claimed its sixth straight championship. The boys’ Alpine ski team rounded out the list of Truckee champs.
As is the nature of sport, though, some teams must lose. Truckee’s girls’ Nordic Ski team fell just short of championship status for the first time in six years in 1999. The girls’ soccer team, having never been beaten in the playoffs since entering the NIAA in 1996, suffered a second round defeat and was eliminated.
The year was marked largely by the accomplishments of individuals, though.
Mark Wellman made his second ascent of El Capitan, bettering his title of being the first paraplegic to make the climb by being the first paraplegic to climb it twice (the second time up a harder section.) Ted Popson, Truckee’s only graduate to play in the NFL, retired from the Kansas City Chiefs. Danny Chandler was inducted into the Motorcycle Hall of Fame 14 years after a crippling accident. Patty Struve completed a seven day endurance trip 350 miles across Alaska. Leslie and Wesley Ajari toppled numerous swimming records, receiving national attention. The individual feats are numerous.
And then there are the additions made to the Truckee landscape.
The Truckee River Regional Park is the new home to a skate park and a disc golf course, adding alternative recreation to the already abundant amount of things to do.
With the precedent of excellence in place, bring on the 21st century.
Following are highlights in area sports from 1999.
— Tahoe-Truckee high school wrestlers finished the regular season with a record of 17-7 and claimed the Division I 3A title for the first time in the school’s history.
— Bob Schaffer was named the 3A Most Valuable Coach after leading the Wolverines’ varsity football team to 12-0 season and a state championship title in 1998. Jeff Andrs, Truckee’s leading rusher, was named as the league’s Most Valuable Player and Chris Gerdin was named as the offensive MVP.
— Leslie Ajari, 11, was named to the USA Swimming Top 16 Time List, a national honor recognizing the 16 fastest swimmers in the nation by age, group and event. Ajari swims for the Truckee Torpedoes.
— Danny Curtis earned the 171-pound weight division individual state wrestling championship. Truckee, as a team, finished sixth in the tournament.
— Louis Van Blarigan, Nick Sterling, Josh Bennett and Chris Waller captured Truckee’s sixth straight Nordic Ski state title with their largest margin of victory for the season, defeating North Tahoe 269-260. The girls’ team came in second place at the tournament, snapping a five-year state title winning streak.
— Member schools in the Division I 3A league of the NIAA voted 4-2 in favor of keeping California schools in the Nevada based league.
— The Truckee boys’ basketball team rallied from a 5-7 start in the regular season and advanced to the second round of the state playoffs before being eliminated by the Moapa Valley Pirates. The girls’ basketball team was eliminated in the first round.
— Wes Thelen claimed the individual state championship for alpine skiing and helped, along with Mike Thomas (fourth place), lead the Wolverines’ team to a state championship.
— Corey Dorsey advanced to the Knights of Columbus state free throw championship after 23 of 30 free throw attempts in early March.
— Far West skiers traveled to Anchorage, Ala. and claimed an unprecedented 12 medals in the U.S. Junior Olympics. The count more than doubled Far West’s prior best of five at the event. Far West members included Ian Case, Laura Spohr, Scott Hill, Tony Bozzio, Nick Sterling, Jessica Ford, Kari Todd, Zach Violett, Louis Van Blarigan, Dana Mosman, Tobias Barr, Chris Waller, Kari Todd, Anne Spohr, Emily Robins, Charlie Porter, Eric Ford and Josh Bennett.
— Doug Roberts resigned from his position as head coach of Truckee’s girls’ varsity soccer team to accept a position at his former college.
— Incline, Whittell, Pershing County, Mineral County, Battle Mountain and White Pine high schools drop from the 3A league to 2A in the NIAA, effective in 2000. Lowry joins the 3A.
— The NIAA decided that, beginning in 2000, league will be called “class,” a zone will be called a “region” and a division will be called a “league.”
— Megan Martin claimed second place in the U.S. Ski Association’s Western J2 junior Olympics.
— Patty Struve completed the Iditasport Extreme event held in Alaska. The event is a 350-mile trek across the landscape that involves mountain biking, snowshoeing and skiing.
— Mountain Hardware, Dunking Dinosaurs, Matt’s Yard Maintenance and the Lunch Bunch claim the TDRPD adult basketball league titles.
— Truckee golfer Tony Neadeau shot a 67 during a tournament at Whitehawk, contributing to a 373 team score that set a Nevada state record.
— Despite entering the division tournament ranked last, the Truckee Wolverines’ softball team rallied to claim the Division I title, defeating second-ranked Fernley and the top-ranked Spring Creek team.
— Wesley Ajari, then a freshman, set a new Truckee record in the 200 IM, swimming the distance in 2:08.18, eclipsing his own time of 2:09.00 set earlier in the season.
— The Truckee boys’ golf team had to accept a second place finish after being upset by Virgin Valley in the state competition.
— Despite being in a car wreck en route to the state championship held in Las Vegas, Robby McClendon, Chris Birchard, Juan Aguilar and Elias Silver won the 4 x 400-meter relay title. Kristine Bena ran the 100-meter hurdles in 16:35 for first place.
— Danny “Magoo” Chandler, one of the top motorcross riders in the world until an accident ended his career in 1985, was inducted into the Motorcycle Hall of Fame in Pinkerington, Ohio.
— The Ranch Hands’ coed softball team swept the Reno City Championship after going undefeated through the season.
— The Reno/Truckee Silverwings soccer organization won the Dana Cup in Denmark. Six members of the team were from Truckee: Becca Shook, Cali Pratt, Natalie Pratt, Megan Minnick, Megan Martin and Lindsey Back. The team placed third in a tournament held in San Sebastian, Spain.
— Ted Popson, the only Tahoe-Truckee graduate to play professional football, announced his retirement from the NFL.
— The Truckee International Karate Foundation collected it’s one-thousandth award on July 31.
— Truckee’s football team snaps 12-game winning streak by losing its season opener to the Bishop-Manogue Miners.
— The Truckee Donner Recreation and Park District opened the Truckee Disc Golf Course at the Truckee River Regional Park.
— The girls’ varsity soccer team loses 2-1 to Quincy, ending a 54-game/two-year winning streak.
— In its first year as a program in the NIAA, the Truckee tennis team advanced to the zones. Sandra Brunner advanced to the state championship, undefeated in the regular season.
— Emily DeCarlo shot a hole-in-one during a tournament held at Northstar-at-Tahoe.
— The TDRPD had the grand opening for the Truckee Skate Park on Oct. 23.
— Truckee’s girls’ golf team successfully defends its state title, defeating its nearest competitor by 13 strokes.
— Renee Trudeau, undefeated in the regular season and the defending individual golf state champion, had to settle for second place after being upset on the last day of competition.
— Betsy Van Blarigan was Truckee’s highest finisher in the cross country state meet, placing fourth out of 51 competitors.
— The Truckee’s boys’ soccer team got redemption, claiming a 2-1 win over the the defending state champion North Tahoe team. The Lakers had defeated the Truckee squad for the title in 1998. In 1999, the Truckee team won two of the teams’ three meetings.
— The girls’ soccer team was defeated in the semifinals by the Boulder City Eagles in the second round of the state tournament. It was the first time the Wolverines’ team had not claimed the state championship since joining the NIAA in 1994.
— Truckee’s varsity football team, after a feisty season, lost in the semifinals to the Moapa Valley Pirates.
— The junior varsity football and boys’ and girls’ soccer teams each won their divisions.
— Jonny Moseley won his own invitational held at Squaw Valley.
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For decades the snap of a baseball into a leather glove has signaled a return to warmer weather and the onset of spring in Truckee.