Mammoth High School runners Hailey Hugelman, Sydney Knadler, and Maria Lopez. (Photo courtesy Don Qualls)
By Don Qualls
On April 9, Fernley Nev. hosted one huge high school track and field invitational. Twenty-eight high schools, and more than 1,400 athletes showed up on this very cold and windy day. High schools were represented from many different states. Temperatures never climbed into the forties, and the wind chill was wicked. All runners ran in the varsity divisions.
Mammoth High School sent five athletes to this event. Included were sophomores Toby Qualls and Sydney Knadler, and freshmen Trevor Meads, Hailey Hugelman and Maria Lopez. Due to the size of the races, many of the events had as many as 10 heats.
Trevor Meads got things started in the long jump, 800 m, and 1600 m runs. Although only a freshman, Meads finished in the middle of the pack in the long jump and 1600 m run.
Maria Lopez ran the 800 m, finishing 13th, with a time of 3:07. She then ran the 1600 m, finishing 20th, and the 3200 m, finishing 18th. Considering their were at least 50 runners, this was a strong showing for the Mammoth freshman.
Sydney Knadler ran the 1600 m and finished in a time of 6:27, good enough for a 14th place finish. She then ran the 3200 m race and finished 17th, with a time of 15:00 flat.
Hailey Hugelman finished 11th in the 800 m run, with a time of 2:59. She also finished 16th in both the 1600 m and 3200 m runs. Again only a freshman, and with the number of runners, a very strong showing.
Coaches wanted Qualls to concentrate only on the 3200 m race this week, so he did not run the 1600 m race. Many of Nevada’s top 3200 m runners were present, including Nathanael Williams. From the starting gun, it was clear, it was a two man race. Qualls and Williams exchanged the lead many times, and built a twenty four second lead over the next fastest runner. When it was over, both boys finished at 10:20, but Nathanael, a junior, got the win, finishing tenths of a second ahead of Qualls. Both boys ran a personal best in this race.
The race ended in a tragic note. Because of the extreme cold and winds, two athletes were seriously hurt. First a shot putter was injured and was taken away in a ambulance. Then, Mammoth’s coaches and athletes narrowly avoided tragedy. A huge whirl wind lifted five or six tents high into the air, then slammed them into the athletes waiting area. Mammoth’s athletes and coaches were walking into this waiting area, and were narrowly missed. A girl athlete, was hit in the head by the poles of one tent, and then boiling water spilled onto her face. The burns looked severe, as did her head injury. She was also taken by ambulance from the course. On a good note, she was talking and even gave a small smile as the ambulance took her to be checked out.