Woods Sierra Nevada Athlete of the Year | NevadaAppeal.com

Woods Sierra Nevada Athlete of the Year

Jeremy Evans
Nevada Appeal News Service

Published Caption: Dan Thrift / Tahoe Daily Tribune / Whittell High's Jessica Woods bounds to a first place finish in the triple jump Saturday during the NIAA State Track and Field Championships at Reno High in Reno.

The question was never if Jessica Woods was the top female athlete at Whittell High School. A more relevant question was if she would’ve been the top female athlete at any other school in Northern Nevada.

Warrior volleyball coach Dan McLaughlin answered that one rather easily.

“Jessica is one of the most remarkable athletes to come through this area, not just Whittell,” McLaughlin said. “She is so athletically versatile that she could play every sport and do it better than anyone else. If she was at Douglas, Carson or Reed – or any of the other big schools – she would be as dominant as she was at Whittell. She’s that athletic.”

The Sierra Nevada Media Group agreed with McLaughlin as she has been named the group’s overall Sierra Nevada Female Athlete of the Year.

Woods’ senior year was pretty much a mirror image of her junior year. She won the Nevada 2A volleyball state championship, helped the Whittell basketball team to a Northern 2A regional tournament berth and capped off the season with yet another state track team championship.

In all, Woods won a combined 14 state championships during her career, which was highlighted by her seven individual state track titles. This year, she won state titles in the 100 high hurdles, triple jump and long jump.

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And in tune with her competitive nature, the only regret she has was not winning a state basketball championship.

“I wish we could’ve gone farther in basketball,” said Woods, who shared WHS athlete of the year honors last year with Katrina Kacirek. “But it was a young team and I think they have a bright future. Other than that, it was pretty much a perfect year.”

In the fall, perfection was an accurate term as Woods led Whittell to a 30-7 record and an unprecedented fourth consecutive state title. Woods never lost a regular-season game to a Nevada team during her career, and she will graduate as the school’s career record holder in kills (1,267), service aces (229) and digs (862).

She was named Gatorade Nevada Volleyball Player of the Year, the first time a Carson Valley or Tahoe-area player has ever won the award. But as volleyball gave way to basketball, Woods was hoping to lead the school to its first-ever state basketball championship.

However, the defending regional champions lost to Lovelock in the regional semifinals and came up short of that goal. Still, Woods led the team in scoring (10.8), steals (3.7) and blocked shots (2.7).

And at 5-foot-8, she was second on the team in rebounding (7.6 per game), which helped her become a repeat selection on the Northern 2A’s all-league first team.

“She just has natural abilities that nobody else has, but she was never a jerk about it,” said WHS basketball coach Nathan Tolbert. “On the court, she had her game face on and wanted to win. But off the court, she smiled more than anybody else.”

Woods then tacked on her next four state titles in the spring when she led the WHS girls’ track team to a third straight state championship and recorded three of her seven career individual state titles. But for all of her success, Woods isn’t wasting her time reflecting on a high school career.

“I’m not waiting until I graduate to start working out for Wright State,” said Woods, who signed a letter of intent for a volleyball scholarship at the school in Dayton, Ohio. “I probably won’t go there until August, but I have been working out and getting in shape again. I am definitely not in shape right now.”