My nine favorite Northern Nevada high school sports stories this year

With the Nevada high school athletics season over, here are my nine favorite prep stories of 2021-22.

1. McQueen football returns to the top of Northern Nevada

Under the watchful eye of head coach Jim Snelling, the Lancers once again laid claim to the title of best football team in the North. It was McQueen’s first regional championship since 2010. Snelling’s squad displayed RMA (Right. Mental. Attitude.) All season, and it culminated in a year to remember. Snelling retired after a 13-year head-coaching career at McQueen with 80 victories and a winning percentage around 60 percent. Congratulations to Snelling on a great career.

2. Winter sport athletes compete for the first time in 630-plus days

It was a victory for every athlete who competed in winter athletics this past academic year as those in boys basketball, girls basketball, wrestling and skiing were able to compete in sanctioned events for the first time since the 2019-2020 state championships. Here’s to a bright future for all winter sport athletes. Play every game like it’s your last because the class of 2021 never got their senior year.

3. Ku Stevens runs for community, breaks records

The future Oregon Duck had arguably the best season of any track and field athlete from Northern Nevada. The Yerington athlete was the Gatorade boys cross country athlete of the year in the state after winning the state title in cross country. What did he do for an encore during the track season? He broke multiple records and won four individual championships. The sky’s the limit for this exceptional athlete.

4. Incline girls basketball remains dominant

The Highlander girls are on the sixth-longest win streak in the country at 41 games. Incline completed an undefeated season (24-0) that culminated in a 31-30 state championship victory over Lincoln County in February. Over the last four seasons, the team has only lost nine games to go with 69 wins for a winning percentage of 88 percent, Incline’s last loss coming to White Pine on Jan. 3, 2020, a span of almost 900 days. Good luck to the next group of lady hoopers in Incline.

5. Robby Snelling, a Generational Talent

Snelling is supremely talented and matches that with a hard-working, humble and kind personality. The NSN Male Athlete of the Year enjoyed a historic season on the football field and baseball diamond as he was named the Northern MVP in both sports. I hope all sports fans had a chance to see him while he was in the local area because in a few years it might be tough to afford to see him play as he could be pitching in the major leagues as a projected first-round draft pick next month.

6. Klekas finally gets his state title

One of the best things about rural Nevada is the communities that support their high schools. Oftentimes it takes an extravagant amount of time to create a great program, and that’s what Chris Klekas has done over his almost three decades at the helm in Elko. Thanks to having a supportive community and many talented hoopers who are dedicated to getting better, the boys basketball team finally won its first state title since 1981.

7. North Valleys finds success in football and softball

The Panthers of Golden Valley produced two of their best teams in school history. In the fall, North Valleys had an undefeated regular season, won their first league title and went 8-1 overall. It was led by quarterback Cameron Zeidler, who will be a preferred walk-on at Nevada next season. Not to be outdone by the football team was the softball squad. Making its first appearance in the state championship, Panthers softball won a school-record 22 games but fell just shy of a regional or state title, with Fernley sweeping both.

8. Speaking of the Vaqueros, their softball program is legit

Led by coach Diane Chapin, the Vaqueros reached the pinnacle of the 3A mountaintop for the first time since 2017. Facing elimination against Virgin Valley (who came into the championship riding a 33-game winning streak), the Vaqueros forced a winner-take- all state title game. Freshman Sara Moffett launched a three-RBI to put the Vaqueros up 6-2, a lead Fernley would not relinquish in a 7-6 win.

9. Donnie Nelson becomes NIAA’s fifth executive director

During the 100 years high school sports have been played under a governing body in Nevada, only five people have held the title of executive director. Donnie Nelson became the latest to do so. If you’ve ever met Nelson, you’d know that you couldn’t find a nicer guy and more humble human being. I’m wishing him good luck as he charts the course for the NIAA and high school sports in the Silver State.

J. Ray Dockter is a freelance writer who primarily covers high school sports for Nevada Sports Net. For story ideas, email KRNVsports@KRNV.com.

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