RENO — The snow began to swirl as the runners moved en masse to the starting line for the beginning of the girls 1600-meter relay Saturday at Damonte Ranch.
With the team title on the line between Western and McQueen, the winterly weather seemed to be an omen.
The Lancers qualified with a time 11 seconds slower than the Warriors, but McQueen surprised the field with a first-place finish in 3 minutes, 55.55 seconds to clinch the Class 4A state girls track title at 72 points. Western and Reno tied for second with 62 points apiece.
Despite being seed eighth in the final, McQueen coach Ed Parise said his team wasn’t at that much of a disadvantage.
“We went to Arcadia and ran 3:59 with the same team, and I’m pretty sure Western and Cheyenne knew we were at Arcadia, so they knew we probably had a 4×4,” he said.
Western coach Freddy Morrison wasn’t terribly disappointed with the finish, considering the small team the Warriors fielded at the event.
“We know we didn’t have enough people in the events so I wasn’t even thinking the state championship,” he said. “We only have six girls, so we performed the best we can. If the chips fall or doesn’t fall, we just ride it.”
Western entered that final event trailing McQueen and Reno by eight points. With Western seeded first, McQueen seeded eighth and Reno without a team in the race, Western needed form to hold in order to win the meet.
McQueen’s boys team had clinched the team title minutes earlier with a strong showing in the 400.
“If we wouldn’t have won both state titles, I think it would have been a disappointment for our kids,” Parise said. “We were hoping the weather would be nicer, too, because we were hoping to run some faster times.”
Southern Nevada athletes found the top of the medal stand in five of Saturday’s nine events.
After winning the discus on Friday, sophomore Avione Allgood of Legacy made it a clean sweep of the throwing events, winning the discus Saturday morning with a 43-foot-4.5-inch heave.
Winning the discus Friday didn’t lessen the nerves for Allgood in Saturday’s shot put.
“I still was nervous today,” she said.
Allgood shed the pressure quickly, taking the lead with her first throw, and capping the win on her fifth toss.
“I was already winning with my first throw,” she said. “It felt good.”
Centennial’s Karli Johonnot, the only Southern 4A girl in four individual events, also won two events, claiming the 300 hurdles on Saturday in 45.01.
Johonnot, who won the high jump Friday, said she was even more determined than usual for Saturday’s 300 hurdles after hitting the last hurdle and finishing second in the 100 hurdles Friday night.
“That last hurdle, I wasn’t going to let it happen again like the 100 hurdles,” Johonnot said. “I’m pretty satisfied, I guess you could say.”
Rancho senior Aisha Momodu won the 100 in 12.31 seconds in the closest race of the day, only three-hundredths of a second ahead of Legacy’s Darriel Banks.
Western’s 400 relay team of Antoinette Garrett, Tierra Tyler, Paradise Sanders and Loren Jackson took first place in 48.42, while Anne Underwood of Valley won the 800 in 2:18.89.
Underwood was so focused on her own steps she wasn’t even sure if she’d won when she crossed the finish line nearly a second ahead of Reno’s Erika Root.
“I just was focusing on the finish line,” she said. “ I had to look around because I thought the girl was right on my back, so I wasn’t sure maybe if she crossed with me or not. I couldn’t really actually believe that I did it.”