Sprinters put Carson on track
Appeal Sports Writer
Led by its armada of sprinters, Carson High will have an abundance of gold medal contenders when the Northern 4A Regional Track and Field Championships begin today in Sparks.
But never mind the individual honors. The Senators want to run for team championships at the regional meet, which open with the trials today at Reed High’s Northern Nevada Track and Field Facility. And they will look for more of the same the following week at the NIAA State Championships in Las Vegas.
Lofty goals, to be sure. But senior sprinters Josh Heilman and Tilor Smith believe those goals can be achieved by this Carson team.
“We push ourselves to do good for the team,” Smith said. “You’re running your hardest for everybody else.”
“I set goals for myself, but I do it for the team,” Heilman added. “Our team being so good and everyone running well together, that’s exciting,” Heilman said. “Before, we never had goals to win meets. We’ve won two this year (Fallon and Spanish Springs) and we want more. Carson hasn’t won state since 1951.”
“That’s our main goal now,” Smith continued. “It’s right there within reach, if we all run to our capabilities.”
On paper, the Senators have the potential to win 14 or 15 girls and boys events at the regional meet. Among those possibilities are Heilman in the boys 100 and 200 – his times of 11.08 and 22.11 at the BYU Invitational last weekend rank No. 1 in the North – along with freshman Kayla Sanchez in the girls 100, 200, 300-meter low hurdles and the 4×400 relay. Sanchez has run 12.38 in the 100, and her 25.08 in the 200 and 43.70 in the 300 hurdles at BYU set school records.
“They’ve been running well and they’re going to have to continue to run well,” Carson coach Todd Ackerman said.
Especially if the Senators want to realize their team championship aspirations.
“It’s going to depend on how many (athletes) we get through to state,” Ackerman said. “They’ll definitely have to step up and meet the challenge and it starts this weekend. We’ve got to qualify as many people as we possibly can.”
Both the boys and girls teams expect to be in the title hunt at regionals. In addition to the sprinters and hurdlers, Carson has strength in the throws, led by Stephen Waicul, the defending regional discus champion, and Eric Walther in the boys competition, along with Alex McAlman on the girls throws .
“I think it’s possible. But to do it, we’ve got to compete extremely well and we’ve got to get some breaks,” Ackerman said.
Carson’s boys are aiming to win the 4×100, 4×200 and 4×400 relays and they want to qualify four sprinters for the finals in the 100 and 200 individual races. Sam Pincock and Bryan Maffei will join Heilman and Smith to run the 100 and 4×100. Seth Carter, Maffei, Pincock and Heilman run the 200 and 4×200.
Heilman came on strong at the end of last season when he ran 11.23 to place second at the regionals, then followed that up with a sixth-place effort at state (11.27). He has consistently run faster than that throughout this season.
“I’ve just worked a lot harder,” said the 5-foot-8, 148-pound Heilman. “Last year, I didn’t spend that much time in the weight room. This year, I’ve lifted like a demon the whole school year.”
On the girls side, Lindsay Ford, Sandra McAlman, Amanda Benson and Sanchez ran 4:02.41 in the 4×400 at BYU, the fastest time in the North this season.
Sanchez has made a big impression in her freshman season. Her time in the 300 hurdles is easily within reach of the state meet record of 43.26 run by Fallon’s Dixie Williams in 1994, but first she will have to get past a talented field that includes 2004 state champion and state runner-up, Megan Olivetti of Wooster (a Boise State signee) and Polly Smith of North Valleys.
“She’s just a freshman, but you can see she’s something special,” Heilman said of Sanchez. “She’s going to go places. By the time she’s done, she’s going to be the best hurdler Nevada has ever seen.”
Heilman and Smith both plan to go to Mt. San Antonio College to run next year. It will be familiar scenery for Heilman, who is accustomed to seeing fast times after growing up in the Southern California community of Walnut, home of Mt. SAC, and of the prestigious Mt. SAC Relays.
“When you live in Walnut, everybody knows about Mt. SAC and you know who Carl Lewis, Maurice Greene and Marion Jones are,” said Heilman, who moved to Carson City midway through his freshman year.
He is also looking forward to seeing some familiar faces at the state meet in Las Vegas.
“A lot of my family from Southern California and my grandmother from Texas will be in Vegas for the state meet,” said Heilman, who will run the 100, 200, 4×100 and 4×200 at the regionals.
Smith established himself as one of Nevada’s leading long jumpers last year when he soared 22-feet, 2-inches. Smith still ranks among the best in the North with a season best of 21-10 1/2 at the Reed Invitational last month.
Pincock, who missed most of last year’s track season with a broken collar bone, has come back strong this season and consistently run in the 11.5 range. Last Saturday at BYU, he fell and still recovered well enough to finish in 11.56.
“We’ve talked about these relays since we were sophomores,” said Pincock, whose older brother George is now one of the leading sprinters for the University of Colorado. “We knew that in another couple of years, we’d be running some really fast times.”
Two other seniors also figure to be factors for Carson’s boys: Matt Moore in the 110-meter high hurdles (15.13) and 300-meter intermediates (39.03), as well as the 4×400 relay (he has run sub-50 seconds) and Seth Carter, who has run 23.25 in the 200 and 40.8 in the 300 hurdles. Jeremy Gray, Moore, Smith and Carter combined to run 3:28.62 in the 4×400 at BYU, which ranks almost dead even with McQueen as the fastest time in the North this season. The Senators won the regional 4×400 last year in a meet record time of 3:23.71.
“The people on our 4×4 all run together. I noticed at practice the other day that everything we ran, we all finished at the same time,” Carter said.
n Contact Dave Price at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 881-1220.
WHAT: Northern 4A Regional prelims
WHEN: Today. Field events start at 8:30 a.m. and running events at 9.
WHERE: Reed High School, Sparks.
THE STAKES: The top eight qualifiers in running events and top nine in the throwing events advance to the finals next week. Prelims will be held in all events except the 4×800 relay and 3,200.