SPARKS -- There was plenty of drama at the NIAA/U.S. Bank Track and Field Championships on Saturday.
Just consider Galena High School's Barrett Young, who lost the class 4A boys 300-meter intermediate hurdles by two-hundredths of a second to Cimarron-Memorial's Elisha McCall. However, Young and the Grizzlies capped off their day as team champions by one-half point over Cimarron-Memorial, 71 1/2-70, in a competition that boiled down to the final event.
Fernley's Tigger McIntyre broke his own school triple jump record with a 44-foot effort to win the 3A boys triple jump -- his third gold medal of the weekend -- and then ran to second-place in the 100 meters in 11.21, losing to Bishop Manogue's Galen Brodrick in a photo finish that was decided by two-hundredths of a second on the final day of a meet that showcased athletes in each of Nevada's four classifications at Reed High School.
That wasn't the extent of the Carson Country highlights, either.
-- Dayton senior Shaun Merril shook off some bad memories from one week before to emerge from a tight four-way battle and repeat as 3A boys pole vault champion.
-- Carson senior Josh Carter ended his successful athletic career with a second-place finish in the shot put to help the Senators finish seventh as a team with 41 points.
-- And in the last race of the day, Carson's team of Javier Vega, Matt Waterman, Scott O'Brien and George Pincock capped off their season-long run together in the 4x400 relay with a second-place finish and school record time of 3 minutes, 19.74 seconds. While it wasn't enough for a gold medal -- Desert Pines won with a state meet record 3:17.89 clocking -- the consolation prize was pretty decent.
"It was our p.r. for the year and another school record and we're happy with that, but the win would have been that much sweeter," said senior Scott O'Brien, who ran third leg for Carson. "We wanted this. We've been working real hard and we thought we had a real good chance."
Javier Vega, a senior who placed fifth in the 100 meters earlier in the day (11.45), ran 50.26 for the leadoff leg to put Carson out front. Sophomore Matt Waterman followed with a 50.53 clocking, O'Brien ran 49.91 and George Pincock finished with a 48.83 anchor.
"That was a phenomenal run," Carson sprint coach Shane Quilling said. "All four of them ran their best times all year. They worked hard and they deserved this. Desert Pines, they ran a state record to beat you, so there's no way you can be disappointed."
The team came far this season, Quilling pointed out.
"They started the year running 3:33, 3:34 and ended up running 3:19-something and breaking the school record by seven seconds," he said. "They worked their butts off and ran their best at state and that's what it's about. Run your best at state. Sometimes you don't always win, but that doesn't mean you're not a champion."
Their second-place finish even helped rival Galena win its first-ever state track and field team championship. Cimarron trailed by 15 points with two events left and the Spartans scored 10 when Rayland Currie won the triple jump with a 46-3 1/4 effort on his final attempt. Cimarron needed to finish third or better in the 4x400 to win the meet, but ended up fourth in 3:23.04, just a couple of steps behind third-place McQueen.
"Yeah, I was sweating," Galena coach Ed Parise said. "I really didn't think we had that shot because Cimarron is so good in the 4x4."
The Grizzlies had a dozen boys who occupied 16 spots in the meet and they came up with a lot of different contributions.
"Every point was so important," Parise said. "Geoff Casazza, having that possible stress fracture and finishing sixth in the mile, that was a big difference for us. He could have totally shut it down and just quit, and he still finished that last 300. I can't imagine how much pain he was in."
Casazza scored three points with his finish Friday in the 1,600 meters while teammate Stephen Pottey took seventh to score two more points. They also combined with seniors Dan Carew and Tim Koepsell to win the 4x800 relay on Friday.
The Grizzlies began Saturday 33 1/2 points ahead of Cimarron and scored their last eight points on Young's second-place finish in the 300 hurdles. Young shattered his personal record with a time of 37.90, faster than the state meet record McCall set last year. The problem was, McCall ran 37.88 this time.
"That was an unbelievable race. I've never seen a 300 race that close in my life," Parise said. "I've seen 36s, but I've never seen two guys compete like Elijah and Barrett did. Barrett couldn't have run a better race."
Merril, third at the Northern 3A meet the week before, shook off that memory and won his second straight 3A state pole vault title with a height of 13-6. Merril took control of the competition from Boulder City sophomore Travis Rowe by soaring well over the bar in his first attempt at 13-feet.
"It was awesome to win again," Merril said. "I was kind of scared at the beginning because I didn't jump so well at divisionals, but my mom and dad told me to just go have fun. That's what I did, and I won."
Merril's height was off his school record 14-0 set two weeks ago at the Yerington Relays, but was still the best in any of the four classes on Saturday.
"He had a good day and I was glad to see that after last week," Dayton coach Mike Paul said. "I wished he could have gotten over 14 feet so he could have gotten three more jumps to break his school record again. He had the height on that last jump, but that's OK. He still won."
Carter threw 54-4 1/4 to place second in the 4A boys shot put, just inches behind Wooster's J.J. Milan (54-10).
"It was a little disappointing the way it ended because I threw like three 58s out of bounds," Carter said. "J.J. really didn't got a hold of it that well today until that last throw. I had some out there and they were just on the other side of the line. The last throw I had would have won it, too, but I fell out (of the ring for a scratch)."
Carson sophomore Shaylyn Tom came up big in the 4A girls discus in the morning with a throw of 122-10 that improved her lifetime best by more than four feet and was within reach of the winning mark of 129-0 posted by Cheyenne's Robyn Denson.
Merrill also joined teammates Josh May, Dylan Woods and Joel Kiraly to place third in the 4x100 relay (45.75). Rite of Passage won the race in 45.38 behind a big anchor leg by Anthony Carter, who only minutes before had won the shot put (53-0 3/4).
Dayton's Bridgette Galles placed third in the girls high jump on fewer misses as she cleared 5-1 to tie her own school record.
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