SPARKS - Carson High freshman Kayla Sanchez admitted that she was nervous before stepping into the blocks for the start of the girls 300-meter low hurdles at the Northern 4A Regional Track and Field Championships on Saturday.
But in what had been billed as the race of the day, it was the rest of the field that played catchup around the track at Reed High because Sanchez started fast and never looked back on her way to victory in a meet, stadium and school record time of 42.61 seconds.
Sanchez also set stadium, meet and school records to win the 100 in 11.92. Later, she ran leadoff for Carson's first-place 4x200 relay team that set a school record of 1:44.45, and 30 minutes after the 300 lows, she returned to the track and won the 200 in 25.16.
She was just one of many highlights the Senators enjoyed on a mid-80 degree day when the girls team finished second and the boys third.
Bishop Manogue used its second-place finish in the 4x400 relay to edge Galena 121-119 for the boys title, while Carson finished a close third with 103 points. Galena's girls used their strength in the field events, including a 1-2-3 finish in the high jump, to win by a 139-107 margin over Carson.
Carson's girls were aided by two victories in the throws from Alex McAlman, who set a lifetime best of 38-8 in the shot put then came back to throw 118-1 in the discus. Amanda Benson also placed second in the 400 and anchored Carson's first-place 4x400 relay team in the final race of the day.
Josh Heilman was a double winner in the boys sprints. The senior ran a school record 10.83 in the 100 and 22.22 in the 200, plus he ran leadoff legs for Carson's first-place 4x100 and 4x200 relay teams.
Heilman, Tilor Smith, Sam Pincock and Jeremy Gray combined to run a school record 43.31 in the 4x100. The all-senior quartet of Heilman, Pincock, Seth Carter and Matt Moore ran 1:28.83 to win the 4x200.
The Carson boys finished off their day in style by winning the 4x400 in a meet and school record time of 3:23.55. The team consisted of Gray (51.26), Carter (51.66), Smith (50.70) and Moore (49.84).
It was a busy day for Smith, who won the long jump with a 22-2 1/2 mark on his first attempt and also placed fifth in the 100 in a personal best 11.24 clocking.
Coach Todd Ackerman described the day as an overall success.
"The kids all ran well, for the most part," Ackerman said. "We accomplished what we thought we could."
Primarily, the Senators qualified key athletes for the NIAA State Championships on Thursday, Friday and Saturday at Palo Verde High in Las Vegas. The top three finishers in each event on Saturday advance to state.
"We just didn't have enough depth to win today," Ackerman said. "Those fourth-, fifth-, sixth- and seventh-place points other teams were getting today, it's going to be a whole lot different next week because those points won't be there."
Sanchez figures to be a major player at state based on her performance on Saturday. Her record-setting run in the 100 was impressive enough. The 300 hurdles was even better, considering she outran a blue chip field that included defending state champion and Boise State-bound Megan Olivetti, who finished second in a lifetime best time of 42.89. To put it in perspective, only three other high school hurdlers in the U.S. have run faster than Sanchez this season, according to the DyeStat.com national rankings.
"I prepared really hard for it, but I was nervous because I knew it was supposed to be a really fast race," Sanchez said. "I think it helped because I had a lot of adrenaline built up and I definitely ran the first five hurdles better than I have all year."
She stuttered before the fifth hurdle and then hit the seventh, but by that time, she was in complete control of the race.
McAlman also had a good day, starting with her eventual winning throw of 38-8 in the second round.
"That got the boat rocking and set the tone right there," Carson throws coach Jim Bean said. "After that, she was at a different level from anyone else."
McAlman still felt she could have done better.
"I couldn't get everything together," she said. "The shot put was my best by a foot-and-a-half, but I still think I can throw 40. That will be my goal next week."
Another Carson thrower, Stephen Waicul, punched his ticket to state in the boys discus with a third-place throw of 150-11.
Carson was solid in both the boys and girls 400 races. Gray, who tore a hamstring in the preseason, completed his comeback with a personal best 50.71 to place third in the boys race. Carson also got two personal best runs in the girls race as Benson placed second (59.03) and freshman Christy Works fourth (59.29).
Carson's girls won the 4x400 (4:02.49) with Works (1:01.26), Lindsay Ford (1:00.57), Sandra McAlman (1:01.28) and Benson (59.26). Earlier, the Senators won the girls 4x200 with Sanchez, Ford, Sinead McSweeney and Benson.
One of the top surprises of the day came in the girls pole vault when Amber Whitworth placed second with a school and personal record jump of 9-9. The records, not to mention the trip to state, didn't come easy to the senior.
"I'm really excited; this is what I've wanted since my sophomore year," said Whitworth, who cleared 9-0 as a sophomore then missed the entire 2004 season due to an injury she sustained during the first day of practice. "I've worked really hard. I wanted it so bad, and I knew it was going to be hard to get it."
Another highlight in the hurdles was Andrea Kirstead, who placed third in a personal best 15.96. On the boys side, Moore qualified in the hurdles as he ran 15.24 for third-place in the 110 highs and 39.77 for second-place in the 300 intermediates. Moore turned in a gutsy finish in the 300 intermediates after he stumbled on the fifth hurdle and dropped back to fifth-place with less than 100 meters to go.
One of the day's top overall performances was delivered by Reno sophomore Mel Lawrence, who ran a leg for the Huskies' first-place 4x800 team, then came back to win the 1,600 (5:04.51), 800 (2:14.80) and 3,200 (11:23.34). Also impressive was Galena's Alyssa Abbott, who placed second in the 1,600 (5:17.11) and 800 (2:18.45) and was third in the 3,200 (11:55.11).
"Nobody had a bigger day than Alyssa," Galena coach Ed Parise said. "I know Mel won those races, but Alyssa was right there in all of them on a long, hot day."
Galena also picked up 24 points with the 1-2-3 sweep of the high jump by Langley Iverson (5-2), Lydia Mailander (5-0) and Julia Mailander (5-0). Julia and Lydia Mailander also placed second and fourth respectively in both the long and triple jump.
Another local highlight was delivered in the boys 800 by Douglas senior Kevin Carlson, who qualified for state with his lifetime best run of 2:00.994 for second-place. Carlson led at the midway mark with a 59-second clocking, and even though he was passed on the backstretch of the second lap, he came back and nearly caught Mario Rangel of North Valleys (2:00.57) at the wire.
n Contact Dave Price at email@example.com or call 881-1220.