It looks like the Carson High girls track team may finally have enough depth to win the title at this weekend's NIAA 4A State Championships. And it won't matter to the Senators if that depth is coming from other schools.
Even though Carson has only five girls competing, the Senators are in the strongest position they've been in the last three years to win the title in the meet at Damonte Ranch. Carson has had to settle for second the last two years because it didn't have enough depth to keep up with the eventual champion.
Two years ago that was Galena and last year it was Mel Lawrence and Reno High. In both years, CHS was the only serious challenger to Galena and Reno and with no other schools taking away points from the Grizzlies and Huskies, the Senators never really had a chance.
But that's changed this year as Carson, Western, Canyon Springs and Reno all appear to be among the leading contenders for the title. With several schools fighting for the title - instead of just two - that should help CHS, said Carson coach Robert Maw. "It's going to play in our favor this year," he said.
Maw has been crunching the numbers and he's cautiously optimistic. "The numbers look good for us," he said.
If the meet goes as well as it could for CHS, Maw said he has his team winning by about seven points. He said he expects 60-65 points could be enough to win the title.
Maw noted that while Reno won the Northern 4A title last week with 117 points, only 56 of those points have advanced to state. And there's no Mel Lawrence for the Huskies this year. In contrast, Carson took second with 82 points and 74 of those points have advanced to state.
As an assistant coach at Cheyenne, Maw has been in this position before. Cheyenne was able to win the state title with six girls in 2000.
But the Senators still have to go out and perform, particularly Kayla Sanchez, who has won nine state titles in her career. Sanchez will be asked to win four more in the 100 and 200 meters, 300 hurdles and long jump. Sanchez is coming off an outstanding effort in the 300 hurdles in zone, winning in 42.83 seconds.
There's also Christy Works, who Maw hopes will provide CHS with top three finishes in the 400 and 800. And Maw hopes that the 4x400 relay team of Works, Gloria Sosa, Julianne King and Kelsey Chicvara, which won in an oustanding time of 4:01 last week, can at least finish second in their event. CHS also has Kendra Krupp as an alternate to run in that relay if needed.
An added bonus for Carson came when Sosa qualified for the 400. Any extra points Sosa can give Carson in that event will obviously be helpful. "She fought her heart out," Maw said. "She gutted it out."
The one setback that CHS suffered last week came when its 4x200 relay team, ranked No. 1 in the North, dropped the baton, settled for seventh and didn't qualify. "That would have given us the breathing room we needed," Maw said.
On Friday, Sanchez will compete in the 100 and 300 hurdles, Works will compete n the 800 and Carson will run in the 4x400 relay. On Saturday, Sanchez will compete in the long jump and 200 and Sosa and Works will run in the 400.
Another factor that should work to Carson's advantage and to the disadvantage of the Southern contenders is the altitude.
Carson will have three boys in the meet led by Mike Arnold, who will be favored to win the pole vault. Arnold has cleared 16 feet, one inch this year and will try to become the second Nevada high school athlete ever to clear 17 feet, joining Reno's Cameron Kroll.
There's also Caleb Carter in the long jump and Richard Shroy in the 3,200. Shroy is coming off an outstanding performance in the 3,200 in which he finished second at zone.
The chance for Carson's boys to finish high in Saturday's NIAA 4A State Championships at UNLV took a hit as two of its top swimmers will not compete. Seniors Matt Grunert and Garrett Clayton will attend the prom, a decision that Carson coach Monica Weaver understands. "There's only one senior prom," she said.
But Weaver also said the prom conflicting with the state meet was unfortunate and it's a situation that should obviously be avoided in the future. "It's not OK," she said.
Grunert qualified for state in the 100-yard freestyle and Clayton would have been a strong contender to win the title in the 100 breaststroke, an event he won at zone last week.
Carson suffered another setback last week when its 200 medley relay, which would have likely qualified, was disaqulified. But the Senator boys will still be well-represented at state.
Kevin Dyer, who won zone last week in the 500 free, will be a strong contender to win the state title in that event. Jacob Cornwell qualified for two events in the 200 free and 100 backstroke. Paul Chang also qualified for Carson in the 100 breaststroke.
In addition, Grunert, Cornwell, Dyer and Luke Gentner qualified for Carson in the 400 free relay and Chang, Gentner, Clayton and Grunert qualified in the 200 free relay. Carson will still swim in those two relays as Nick Schlager will help fill the void.
For Carson's girls, Jamie Showalter, Tatum Boehnke, Beth Lewis and Julie Asire will swim in the 200 free relay.