LAS VEGAS — Thanks to its dominance in middle and long-distance events, the Sierra Lutheran High track team has been one of the best 1A squads in the state.
Since 2010, the Falcons’ girls team has racked up four titles and the boys squad has chalked up five state crowns.
When the 2017 NIAA State Track & Field Championships get underway today at Foothill High School in Henderson, expect the Falcons to be in the thick of things.
“Both the boys and girls are looking pretty good,” Sierra Lutheran coach Mike Kubel said. “We got all of our relays through.”
When you talk Sierra Lutheran girls, you start with Elaina Marchegger, the defending state champ in the 1600 and 3200-meter events. She was second a year ago in the 800, and she’s entered in all three individual events plus a relay this weekend.
Marchegger, who seems to have overcome some health problems earlier this year, has the state’s best times in the 800 (2:33.55), the 1600 (5:40.30) and the 3200 (12:34.69). Her toughest race will probably be in the 800, as Jackpot’s Briana Leon has run a 2:33.82.
Sophomore Taylor Davison is ranked fourth in the 800 (2:35.06), third in the 1600 (5:47.23) and fourth in the 3200 (12:55.43). Her older sister, Clare, is ranked sixth, seventh and eighth, respectively in the distance. Sophomore Emily McNeely is third in the 3200, fourth in the 1600 and eighth in the 800.
Rachel Hall has a good chance to medal in both hurdle events, ranking second and fourth. Grace Bonafede is ranked second in the triple jump at 32-10 1/2 and third in the long jump at 15-0 1/2. Aleyna Gilson will challenge for titles in the 100, 200 and 400.
On the boys side, Elaina Marchegger’s younger brother, Jared, is primed for a big weekend. He won Northern 1A titles in the 3200 (9:55.65) and the 1600 (4:40.80), and he was third in the 800 (2:09.87) behind Colt Hess of Virginia City and teammate Ricky McNeely.
“Jared is following in his sister’s footsteps with his performances,” Kubel said.
Ricky McNeely is ranked second in the 800 (2:07.99), third in the 1600 (4:48.54) and third in the 3200 (10:42.90). Grant Goins enters the weekend tied for third in the state in the high jump at 5-10 and he’s ranked in the top eight in the state in the 100 at 11.72. Blake Ranalla is expected to contend in the pole vault, long jump and triple jump. Craig Moe is a contender in the triple jump after his win last week. Steven Flanagan is also a contender to medal in the pole vault.
Virginia City’s Colt Hess has the second-best time in the state behind Word of Life’s Greggory Gilbert in the 400 (50.75-50.83) and he has a state-best 2:05.24 in the 800.
Pradere seeks medals
Carson City’s Abby Pradere leads a small contingent of Carson athletes into today’s meet. A total of seven CHS athletes are competing.
Pradere, a sophomore, is entered in the 800 (2:16.59) and 1600 (5:08.05). She won both events last weekend on her home track.
Her biggest competition in the 800 from Centennial’s Karina Haymore, who has run a 2:10.05 and her teammate Alexis Gourrier, who has a 2:14.31 to her credit. In the 1600, Gourrier has a 5:04.68 to her credit
Carson is also represented by its 1600-meter relay team of Pradere, Annika Wick, Jaidyn Shepard and Ashley Britt. The quartet ran a season-best 4:07.9, and that time more than likely needs to be lowered this weekend to get a top-four finish.
“They will need to run faster,” CHS head coach Robert Maw said. “They have to clean up the handoffs. That will shave two or three seconds.”
Besides Pradere, the best shot at a medal may be in the triple jump where Anya Woodbury and Abbey Paulson went 1-2 last weekend at 36-feet and 35-5 3/4, respectively.
“I know the south has a couple of 40-foot jumpers, and they have a couple of girls who have gone 36-37,” Maw said. “Anya and Abbey have an outside shot. You just never know what’s going to happen.”
High jumper Greg Wallace is the only male athlete who qualified this week, and he is in a star-studded field. Wallace’s best is 6-4, and Las Vegas has produced a half-dozen jumpers who have gone 6-6 or better.
“Greg may have to jump 6-8 (to get in top three),” Maw said.
Mason, Ply eye titles
J.J. Ply is favored in all three of his events — 110 high hurdles, 300 hurdles and high jump.
Ply has the fastest times in both hurdle events, and he’s tied with Elko’s Kyrin Allen in the high jump. Both jumpers cleared 6-10 at regionals, and Ply won the title when he cleared 6-10 on his first try and Allen made it on his second.
Mason is the favorite in both the long and triple jump, as the toughest competition comes from her rivals in Northern Nevada.
The 800 relay team of Rebecca Mason, Ashley Mason, Macie Callan and Sydney Strickler ran a 1:50.09 which will be good enough for a top-three finish if they can run that well again.