By Garrett Estrada

Ely Times Staff Writer

The White Pine High track team got its season up and running on Saturday at Spring Creek, with the defending state championship girls team finishing in third and the boys team in fourth.

“I thought our team did really well on both sides,” coach Justin Locke said.

Four White Pine athletes finished in first place in their individual events. Lucy Fullmer won the high jump, Tommy Bischoff won in the triple jump, Jesse Petersen won in the 400 meters and Kinze Bradshaw won the triple jump.

Assistant Coach Doug Fullmer said the team also had a number of other athletes place second or third in their events, making the meet a strong opening to their season.

Thanks to a successful recruiting effort, Locke said this year’s squad on both side features more athletes, giving him and his assistant coaches more “pieces” to move around in the puzzle.

“Last year we didn’t have that many on our girls team but we were still able to take state with what we had,” Locke said. “Being able to add a few more pieces to that will help us defend our state championship and hopefully be there with our boys as well.”

The coach said he’s still trying to figure out the strengths of each athlete, and that while they might excel in any area, he’s working hard to “find the right fit for them and the overall team.” The process could take three or four more weeks before the final roster is locked in. In the meantime, Locke said the team is currently focusing more on conditioning, since between eight and 12 athletes could still be moved from one event to another.

The most important aspect Locke said he wanted to instill in his team was the sense that the Spring Creek meet was just the beginning, and that the goal for every meet going forward should be to beat their own records.

“You might not take first or second every week but what matters is if you got better, that’s what our focus is on,” Locke said.

With the first meet now under their belt, Locke said that the team has momentum going into their next challenge at Virgin Valley on Friday. According to Fullmer, the meet will offer the coaches and athletes a chance to see how they fare against southern league schools, like The Meadows, a rival private school out of Las Vegas.

“I think our girls team is definitely state caliber and I think our boys team is right there, we’ve just never been able to get over the hump,” Locke said.