Sports Today: Track team endures Vegas heat at state |

Sports Today: Track team endures Vegas heat at state

by Joey Crandall

The Douglas High School track team had a number of strong performances at the Nevada 4A State Championships in at Del Sol High School in Las Vegas over the weekend.

With a number of underclassmen coming back, the Tigers have only high hopes for the future.

“Our future really looks good,” Douglas girls’ head coach Jim Abbott said. “This team has really come a long way after having no state qualifiers several years ago to eight this year.

“We have a lot of underclassmen that were very close this year, so we have every reason to believe we’ll have more next year.”

Leading the way over the weekend, however, was Douglas’ strong contingent of seniors, as Alicia Sturgess took fourth the 800 (running a personal record of 2:20.99), fifth in the high jump (5 feet, 2 inches) and helped the girls’ 4×400 relay team to a seventh-place finish in 4:08.85.

“Alicia was just about a half-second off from breaking the school record in the 800, but she was right about where we hoped she’d be in terms of overall results,” Abbott said. “She had some great attempts in the high jump and almost cleared 5-4 (which would’ve put her in the running for third or fourth). She was jumping in 103-degree heat, so that didn’t help any.”

The boys’ 4×800 team of Seth White, Brad Boyd, Derrick Jenkins and senior Spencer Lewis took seventh with a time of 8:24.

“It wasn’t their best time, but they did very well,” Abbott said. “They were about 10 seconds slower than their season best, but they were running in 103-degree heat also, so that played into it.

“All four guys ran their splits under 2:10. Spencer was the only senior and he is a big loss, but we are very excited that the other three will be back. You have to figure they will only get better and faster and if we can find someone to shift into Spencer’s spot, we have high hopes of improving on that finish.”

The girls’ 4×400 team of Sturgess, senior Skylar Young, junior Nicole Mehrer and sophomore Jessica Gorton, suffered from a couple of bumps during their exchanges and had trouble keeping up with eventual state-champ Cheyenne’s eye-popping 3:51.72 time in the event.

“Our girls got bumped around through a couple of exchanges, but that’s just one of those things that happens sometimes,” Abbott said. “We knew going in that even if we matched our season-best (4:04), we were going to have a tough time because some of those teams from the south were about there running 56-second splits.

“Our girls ran really well even in the face of all that.

“Again that is a situation of us having two girls coming back and a lot of very talented underclassmen waiting to get their shot as well. Our future just looks really great.”

Abbott said aside from the strong group of returners, one of the most obvious improvements will be that the team will be working on a quality track for the first time in quite a while during practice. The school’s all-weather track is expected to be completed some time in the next two weeks.

“We’ll have a track to work on, so our relays will be that much stronger because we can spend more time working on our exchanges and our jumpers will be stronger because we’ll have the pits out every day.

“We’ll have the pole vault again, which is something we haven’t had in a very long time. That will take us three or four years to develop so that we can take the time to get the kids strong enough in that event.

“It’ll be much like what (throwing coach) Joe Andrews has been doing with the throwers the last three years. He started with a bunch of freshmen three years ago and now he has a number of kids who will be seniors next year who will all be making strong pushes for state.

“We’re looking for the same type of thing in establishing a pole vault program.”

For boys’ head coach Rick Brown this weekend marked the end of his four-year tenure with the program. He’ll be moving to the Bay area for a new job next month.

“As far as this year’s senior class went, there were about six or seven kids that started out with us as freshmen,” Brown said. “We lost a few as we went, but overall it was one of the best class of athletes we’ve had.

“When you look at kids like Skylar Young and Alicia Sturgess, they really set the foundation for this program.

“We told these seniors and this year’s juniors when they were sophomores and freshmen that there were the future of this program. They’ve done everything to prove us right. They set the standard for the underclassmen to rise to.

“They had a lot of success, they worked hard and they bought into the program. They really paid attention to what our philosophies were.”