SPARKS - At the start of the season, Carson Country track and field athletes Amy Sanchez, Chris Chappell and Gabe Hatchett were all good bets to qualify for the state meet.
Those three did qualify for the U.S. Bank/NIAA State Track and Field Meet on Saturday at Reed High. But a few months ago, no one could have predicted that Carson High's Sanchez would be going to state in two hurdle events and that Chappell and Hatchett would be on the makeshift Douglas 4x100 relay team that advanced to state by shocking the field at zone with its first-place time of 43.90 seconds.
Reed swept the team titles at the meet. The Raider girls finished six points ahead of Reno in the standings, 107-101; Reed dominated the boys competition with its 112 points, 27.5 points ahead of second-place Reno.
Carson took sixth in the girls meet and eighth in the boys meet; Douglas was ninth in the boys meet and 13th in the girls competition.
Sanchez qualified for state in the 100-meter hurdles with a second place finish (15.16) and a third in the 300-meter hurdles (46.95). She also advanced in the 200-meter dash with her third-place finish (26.67). The top four places at the zone meet qualified for state.
"I kinda wish I had started earlier now - I never expected to be going to state in the hurdles," said Sanchez, who only began hurdling five weeks ago while training for a five-event pentathlon in California.
Sanchez began the year concentrating on sprints and the horizontal jumps, but she dropped the field events when she realized her potential in the hurdles. Her time of 15.16 in the 100 hurdles was a school record, but left her a few meters behind Reed's Cherokee Osborne at the finish line.
"I think I have a good chance at state if I can maintain my speed for the last 25 meters," Sanchez said. "I was even for the first 75 meters. I just need to work on my form."
Although Chappell, a pole vaulter, and Hatchett, a hurdler, also advanced to state in their specialties, they teamed with Matt Parra and Justin Patay to surprise everyone in the sprint relay. The Tiger relay team had just formed on April 20 at Carson High's Outer Relays.
"It was a huge shock, because we were ranked third and just hoping to qualify for state," said Chappell, a senior who had concentrated solely on vaulting his first three high school seasons.
"It was easy for me," said anchor runner Hatchett, who also advanced to state with his second-place finishes in the 110 high hurdles (15.12) and the 300 low hurdles (39.85). "I got the baton in first because we had such good handoffs."
Qualifying for state in the relay was icing on the cake for Chappell, the reigning state champion in the pole vault who had earlier in the day set a stadium record of 15-10 while taking first in the event. That mark was seven inches better than his winning jump at the state meet in '99.
"Today was warm and calm - I couldn't have asked for better weather," said Chappell, who did not even enter the competition until the bar was at 14-0.
After winning the event, Chappell set the bar at 16-3, one-quarter inch above the existing state record. Chappell fell short on his attempts, but he remained optimistic he can get the state record next week at the state meet, which will also be held at Reed High.
"With a really good jump, I can make 16-3 at state," said Chappell, who said he will announce next week whether he will attend either Arizona, Oregon, Fresno State or UC-Davis.
After tripling in the distance events at the Division II meet last week, Carson's Shanna Sparks chose to focus on the 800-meter and 1,600-meter runs at zone. She won the 1,600 in 5:10.95 and placed second in the 800 with the time of 2:21.14, just .01 behind Galena's Julie Hinton.
In winning the 1,600, Sparks finished nearly six seconds ahead of reigning state champion Katie Gabbart of Reno High.
The girls 800 also produced a good ending for Senator senior Caitlin Prunty. After being disqualified in that event last year, Prunty finished in third with the time of 2:22.64 to qualify for state. She also advanced to state in the 400-meter dash with her third-place finish (59.82).
The discus throw was the most successful for the Carson boys team. The Senators advanced two throwers in the event, Chandler Menteer (3rd, 148-10) and Josh Carter (4th, 144-10). The girls discus saw Carson's Megan Anderson qualify for state with her throw of 111-4, good for third.
Doug Brooks was second in the 100 meter dash in 11.22. Pending a check of Carson records, Senator coach Todd Ackerman believes that time may be a new school record. South Tahoe's Jake Hurwitz won the race in 11.09.
The Carson boys 4x200 relay team was the only Senator relay team that advanced to state. The Senators, comprised of Jordan Payette, Rob Handley, Matt Waterman and Brooks, finished fourth in 1:31.61.
"Out of the athletes we brought, almost everyone qualified for state," Ackerman said. "Only a few relay teams and individuals were kept from advancing."
One surprise came in the boys long jump, where Fallon's Aarik Wilson lost for the first time this season. Wilson was second in 20-11, behind Reed jumper Ray Brown's winning leap of 21-4. The junior, who has not dismissed the possibility of a transfer to Carson this summer, did win the triple jump in 45-7.