Liberty sprinters coach Jason Lam knew he could have a special 400-meter relay team before the season started.
All it required was a little bit of persuasion.
And a whole lot of practice.
The Patriots foursome of David Leathers, Tyeese Blackman, Rudy Distrito and Cervantes White won the Sunrise Region championship in 42.84 seconds at Basic High School on Saturday afternoon to clinch a berth in Reno for the Class 4A state track meet this weekend.
“This team came out of nowhere,” White, the anchor, said after the race. “It surprised us actually, and we just ran with it to be as best as possible.”
White, who doubles as a Division-I football recruit, did not plan participate in track and field this season. But Lam convinced him the sport would improve his speed and explosiveness.
He was right.
White also qualified for state with a second-place finish in the 200, and emerged as the Liberty’s top sprinter throughout the course of the season.
“When we got Cervantes, when he came on the team, I knew it was a wrap,” Lam said. “The beautiful thing about it is, he fell in love with the sport, which is good … When they fall in love with the sport, it makes it so much easier to coach them.”
Coronado sweeps team titles
Coronado track and field coach Tyrel Cooper can’t choose between the girls region championship or the boys region championship.
He enjoys both, equally.
The Cougars boys and girls both won region championships on Saturday, scoring 142 and 125 points respective.
Justin Watterson of won the 110- hurdles in 15.54 and the 300 hurdles in 40.14 seconds on the boys side.
Andrew Burdalski, Timothy Conaway, Watterson and Dillon Stewart won the 1,600 relay in 3:24.79, and Thomas Dougherty won the 800 in 1:57.64.
“Our goal was to be competitive this year,” Cooper said. “Both groups of kids had a lot of kids step up today.”
The girls relied on strong performances from region champions Emma Schmid, Caitlin Shannon, Spencer Farr and Ellen Wise, who took the 3,200 relay in 10:04.16.
Erin Shannon also won the 1,600 in 5:16.02 and the 800 run in 2:24.70 for Coronado.
Moore eluded to the depth in the program, and said having a strong group of athletes allowed the coaches to indentify the best events for the Cougars.
They scored points in all but two events during the Sunrise Region meet.
“I think the strength of the team is the balance,” Cooper said. “It started to build throughout the year. We spent a lot of time teaching the kids the importance of everybody doing their job scoring points.”
Those lessons paid off.
— Las Vegas High’s Victory David won the boys 200 in 22.13, finished second in the 100 and ran on the winning 800 realy team.
—Liberty’s Corey Moore Jr. established a new meet record in the boys discus with a throw of 186-1.
— Mohn’Ai’ Roberson of Eldorado won the 100 hurdles in 14.92, and the triple jump in 37 feet, 0¾ inches.
— Rancho’s Teleda Williams won the 100-meter dash in meet-record time of 11.94 seconds, and the 200-meter dash in 24.09 seconds. She also teamed with Amir’a Edmond, Gizelle Reid and Jordan Davis of Rancho to shatter the 400 relay meet record with a time of 46.74 seconds.
— Liberty’s Gabby Carson set a meet record in the pole vault, clearing 13-3.
Contact reporter Sam Gordon at email@example.com. Follow @BySamGordon on Twitter.