By Garrett Estrada
Ely Times Staff Writer
With only two meets left to go before divisionals, White Pine High School track coach Justin Locke knows that this weekends home meet is one of his athletes’ last chances to prepare.
“This is the most important training week,” Locke said.
He says this at a practice on Tuesday as he tries to regroup his team now that they are all back from Spring Break. Only 18 athletes were able to travel to a meet in Moapa over the weekend due to the week off from school. The small number of athletes, mixed with harsh winds at the meet led to a disappointing result for both the boys and girls squads, placing 14 and 13 respectively out of the 19 schools that competed.
While only one athlete from White Pine medaled in the meet, Shania Marks placed third in the high jump, Locke said that he treated it more as “just another practice” and that Friday’s home meet will be a much better way to determine who is going to qualify for state this year.
“It is going to be a dogfight from here on going into divisionals,” he said. “The conditioning phase is done, all these kids are in as good of shape as they are going to be. Now it is time to see if they can continue to improve on their times.”
Unlike other sports where teams can have the advantage at home, Locke said that the elevation in Ely actually can cause slower times for runners than in meets that take place in Southern Nevada. Even so, he hopes that not having to spend the weekend travelling will help his team stay “relaxed.”
As for the team’s overall chances headed into the second to last meet of the season, Locke said that he wishes he had more girls to compete with, but the smaller numbers didn’t stop them from winning it all last year.
“It is tough when we are light on girls, but our core group is solid. We had the same issue with numbers last year but we still got it done and won state so we know it is possible to do it again,” Locke said.
The home meet will start field events at noon and running events at 1 p.m. The coach has been soliciting volunteers to help run the meet for weeks but said anyone still interested in helping out can show up to the high school field at 10:30 a.m. and he would find them something to do. Really though, he just hopes for a good crowd to show up and support the team at their sole home meet of the season.
“I invite the whole community to come out and support the White Pine High School Bobcats,” he said.
Locke said he also wanted to thank boosters of the school for buying the team a new timing system. He said it brings the school closer to having the proper equipment to eventually host a divisional meet in Ely sometime in the future.