Truckee track and field | Girls dominate regional championships | SierraSun.com

Truckee track and field | Girls dominate regional championships

Special to the Sun
Truckee's standout senior duo of Gabrielle Rinne and Skyler Flora compete in the 800-meter run at regionals.
Steve Puterski / Lahontan Valley News |

After a commanding performance in the Northern Division I-A regional championships, the Truckee track and field team proved that it is ready to take on the entire state of Nevada.

The girls team successfully defended its regional title and the boys team finished in fourth place.

“I’m so proud of this whole team. It was a huge effort by all,” said Truckee head coach Diana Yale. “The points we scored are super impressive, and if there was a combined score, Truckee would be number one overall in the Northern DI-A.”

Truckee’s girls accumulated 182 points, with runner-up Spring Creek finishing a distant second with 119.5 points. The boys team scored 83 points, with Elko taking top honors with 159.5 points. 

The top four finishers in each event qualified for the Division I-A state championships, which will be held at Del Sol High School in Las Vegas on Friday and Saturday, May 15-16. A record 26 Truckee athletes qualified to compete at state.

On the girls side, Truckee took the top spot in all distances between the 400 and 3,200. Gabrielle Rinne earned three individual regional titles, which included a new personal record (PR) in the 400 (59.08), a new season-best in the 800 (2:13.78) and a 9-second win in the 1,600 (5:16.06).

Another Truckee senior standout, Skyler Flora, cruised to a 16-second victory in the 3,200 (11:36.67).

The depth of the girls’ middle distances was on full display. Three of the four regional qualifiers were Truckee athletes. In the 400, Julia Veliquette finished in third (61.49) and Olivia Yale was fourth (61.74). In the 800, Flora finished third (2:22.93) and Veliquette was fourth (2:23.59). In the 1,600, Truckee claimed the entire podium with Flora finishing in second (5:25.29) and Claire Lang-Ree in third (5:32.80). 

“The senior leadership displayed by Gabi and Skyler helped get other Truckee athletes in middle-distance events to qualify,” said Truckee distance coach Rob McClendon.

With the graduation of Quinn Parker — one of the best sprinters in Truckee track history — the Truckee girls have struggled to maintain their dominance in the sprint races. Former middle-distance specialist Olivia Yale helped fill those shoes, as she steadily improved in the sprint distances all season, culminating with a third-place finish with a new PR in the 200 (27.42), which qualified her for state. Yale also made the state cut in the 400.

Last year, Heather Pendleton was Truckee’s only field-event qualifier. She qualified once again in the high jump, earning the regional title with a leap of 4-10. This year, she has the company of three others: Chloe Wall, who placed second in the pole vault (9-0), Hayley Thomas, who placed fourth in the triple jump (32-08.75) and freshman phenom Abby Baier, who also placed fourth in the long jump (15-02). 

Three girls relay teams also qualified at state. The biggest surprise was the third seed 4 x 200 team, comprised of all underclassmen, (Pendleton, Hailey Matosian, Sophie Curtis and Veliquette) racing to a first-place finish in 1:50.63. Also placing first was the 4 x 400 team of Rinne, Lang-Ree, Curtis and Emma Warren, in 4:10.48. The 4 x 800 team of Flora, Syra Fillat, Carrie Bradley and Warren finished second to Spring Creek in 10:24.66.

Not to be out-shined by their historically dominant girls team, Truckee’s boys set a victorious tone in their first race.

The 4 x 800 relay squad, comprised of Eli Yale, Noah Oberriter, Ryan Murphy and Colin Deurlington, entered with the No. 5 seed time and proceeded to impress with a jaw-dropping performance. Not only did they shave a full 40 seconds off their previous mark, which was good enough for a first-place finish in 8:12.73, they also set yet another new school record. Ironically enough, McClendon was part of the 1999 relay team that previously held the record of 8:16.27, back when the 2015 team was still in diapers. 

Oberriter won the regional title in the 1,600 with a time of 4:36.32 and placed second in the 3,200 (10:01.99). Sophomore Zack Barta also qualified with his fourth-place finish in the 3,200 (10:18.57, a new PR). Deurlington also qualified for state in two individual events with his second-place finish in the 800 (2:00.46) and fourth place in the 400 (51.44, a new PR). 

In the field, Tanner Sawyer qualified in the long jump with his fourth-place leap of 20-07. 

The boys 4 x 800 team was not the only relay to qualify. At the other end of the relay spectrum, the 4 x 100 team, comprised of Gabe Deiro, Teliz Manahan, Carson Cottel and Sawyer, placed third in 45.51. 

While there was much to celebrate, there were heartbreaking moments as well.

Five individuals in seven events and two relay teams narrowly missed qualifying by hundredths of seconds or fractions of inches, by placing fifth: Eli Yale in the 400 (51.90) and the 800 (2:00.91), both of which were new PRs, Abby Baier in the 200 (27.80, a PR), Olivia Koster in the 100 hurdles (17.15), Carrie Bradley in the 3,200 (12:21.04, a PR), Pendleton in the 300 hurdles (49.14, a PR and another school record) and long jump (15-01). The girls 4 x 100 team also placed fifth (52.81), and the boys 4 x 400 team also placed fifth (3:34.66).

“While we were hoping to get all our relays in. Everyone gave it their best effort, and that is success,” said coach Yale. “If we all step up our efforts and go into state with confidence and determination and a little luck, we will be successful. Both of these teams are strong and capable of anything.”

The Division I-A is often viewed as the poor, inferior stepchild of powerhouse Division I schools. This year’s Truckee D-IA girls team turned that notion on its head, however. The state-leading times in the entire slate of running events, 100 through 3,200, are all held by DI-A athletes. Defending D-IA state champion Faith Lutheran of Las Vegas claims the top spots in the 100, 200 and 400, while Truckee claims the top rankings in the 800, 1,600 and 3,200.

While it’s impressive that Truckee girls won their regional title by a hefty 62.5-point margin, Faith Lutheran won their regional crown with a 196.5-point total, 116 points over second-place Sunrise Mountain. Truckee and Faith Lutheran are quite comparable on the track, but Faith Lutheran — which has dominated the division since moving down from the DI — has a stronger field program. At state last year, Faith Lutheran bested the second-place Truckee girls purely on field points. 

“We are looking forward to great performances at the state meet this year,” McClendon said. “The girls team has a great opportunity to possibly get second, or if we get lucky, first place. But it will take great performances and a little luck.”