Girls track team first in school history to win three straight titles
The White Pine High School girls track and field team have become accustomed to setting records this year. The triple jump school record was broken, and then broken again. Personal records came for each athlete almost every meet. But one record stands above them all as bigger than just their success on the track.
The Ladycat track and field team is now the first team in WPHS history to win three straight state championships after they narrowly defeated rival Meadows High School in Las Vegas over the weekend. To the team’s head coach Justin Locke, it’s the ultimate payoff for a season of hard work and focus.
“I was very emotional at the time. Talking to the girls at the meet, winning state had always been our goal and I was extremely happy that we were able to achieve that. I just had to soak it all in,“ Locke said.
The championship was never guaranteed as the Ladycats only led the Meadows Mustangs by one point with three events left. Locke knew that in order to pull far enough ahead, he was going to need his star sophomore Mikinley Prengel to step up one last time.
And just like she has all season, she gave it her all. Prengel ran against a Meadows girl in the 400 meter race as one of the final events of the meet. Though she didn’t win the race, finishing two one-hundreths of a second behind the Meadows runner, her performance set up White Pine well enough going into the final event, pole vault, where WPHS had two athletes competing to Meadows one.
“When we found out that we won, I just looked back on the entire season and realized how much effort our entire team put in together and how much we are like a family together. We bonded and that being together brought us a championship,” the sophomore said.
Prengel had a standout meet, finishing in first place in the 100 meter, second place in the 200 meter, and leading her team to a sweep of the triple jump with another first place finish and a new school record of 34 feet one and three-quarter inches. Rounding out the White Pine podium in the triple jump was Jenna Gubler in second, Lucy Fullmer in third and Madeline Pickens in fourth.
The whole team jumped so well that Locke said any one of their best jumps would have either been good enough for a first or second place finish in the past five state meets.
According to Locke, who was a triple-jumper back in his competition days, earning all four top spots in the event is something “very special” to him as an accomplishment.
Other top Ladycat finishes included Lucy Fullmer, finishing in third place in the 100 meter hurdles, fourth place in the 300 meter hurdles and second place in the high jump with a leap of five feet two inches. Her younger sister Lily Fullmer wasn’t far behind, finishing in sixth in the 100 meter hurdles, fifth in the 300 meter hurdles and fifth in the high jump. Caitlin Stanton finished in fourth in the 800 meter race and fifth in the 1600 meter race. Both the 4×400 and 4×800 meter relay teams finished in second place and the 4×200 meter team finished in fourth.
On the boys side, the Bobcat team finished in fifth place overall at the meet with standout performances by season point leaders Nate Lee and Sam Stewart.
Lee earned two second place finishes in the 110 meter hurdles and the long jump and a third place finish in the triple jump. Stewart continued his dominant long distance running earning first place finishes in both the 1600 and 3200 meter races. With Lee graduating next month, Locke said that he expects Stewart to “take the mantle” and become the new leader for the team going into next season.
The sophomore said he is ready to step into the role.
“It’s a big responsibility to lead this group of guys but I think some of them already look to me for that so I’m ready to become a leader,” Stewart said.
According to Locke, the girls team is already well-positioned going into the next season and could be shooting to make the Ladycat track program a dynasty.
“We are only losing two seniors this year and we have a lot of depth on our squad, probably more than any other program right now so I think we are going to be the team to beat next season.”
Locke was also awarded the girls track coach of the year by the league.