This year was marked by personnel change in local sports as the PVT looks at 2016 and the people and events that made this year in sports an exciting year.
Part II – Summer to December
The summer had yet another change in personnel as Trojans coach Joe Clayton took over the off-season football program. People often ask the sports desk, with the high schools being out, do you have a hard time finding stories in the summer? The answer is no, sports is actually just as busy in the summer.
Trojans coach Bob Hopkins made it known he was taking over the girls basketball program. The coach, who already coaches girls and boys golf, returned to the basketball court after an eight-year absence. He started in earnest during the summer.
Hopkins left girls basketball after the 2008 season and after coaching girls basketball for 13 years in Pahrump. Hopkins has a total of 25 years of experience coaching basketball. He spent 12 years coaching in South Dakota before he came to Nevada.
Hopkins replaced Jennifer Hagstrom, who resigned as coach at the end of the year. Hagstrom had been an assistant for Hopkins for two years prior to taking over the girls program.
Badwater Ultra sets stage
for bigger things
The summer months were filled with sporting events that thrived in the heat. These events pit man against the elements.
The first such event was the Badwater Ultramarathon, organized by AdventureCORPs on July 18. In this two-day event, the runners run 135 miles through Death Valley and up to the Whitney Portals near Lone Pine, California. This year’s race went on without a hitch and was won for the second time in a row by Pete Kostelnick from Nebraska, beating all his competition by two hours. But he wasn’t finished there and he would later do bigger things in the fall.
Best in the Desert celebrates
A month later on Aug. 19, racers were back in the region, but this time it was man and machine vs. the desert heat.
It was not the winner of this annual summer event who was center stage, rather it was the controversy that surrounded the 20th running of the Best in the Desert Vegas to Reno Race. This race attracted 370 racers to the desert this year and brings close to $48 million to the region. Nevada is the only state that has off-road racing.
But the 640-mile race almost didn’t happen due to protesters. For the anniversary run, the event started near Alamo and went through the Basin and Range National Monument. The event was a two-day staged race with the second day starting outside of Tonopah. Protesters tried to keep Best in the Desert from getting the race permit from the Bureau of Land Management because of the part going through the monument.
In the end, the permits were issued just before the race, but after all that effort the racers never got to race through the monument. They ended up tailoring their vehicles and bypassing the monument altogether some 49 miles into the race. The winner was Trick Truck driver Andy McMillin.
Summer ends with a change
of Trojans AD
After six years with the Trojans, Ed Kirkwood said farewell to Pahrump Valley High. He was not only the athletic director for the past two seasons but has also coached many athletes over his time at the school.
When he came to the school in 2010, he coached the freshmen girls volleyball team, the girls JV basketball team and the jumpers for the Trojans track team.
In 2011 he took over the Trojans girls JV volleyball team, then in 2012 he became the head track coach while still coaching volleyball and basketball.
In 2014 he became the athletic director and helped the girls basketball team as the assistant varsity coach, and then in 2015 he became the athletic director.
“My time here in Pahrump was awesome,” Kirkwood said. “I am sorry to go. It’s time to get closer to family on the East Coast. I will be moving to Daytona, Florida. This past couple of years working as an AD has been something I have always wanted to do.”
Larry Goins returns
Larry Goins took over as Trojans athletic director in the fall.
Goins has 26 years as an athletic director and 37 years as a teacher to draw from. He is also a former Trojans teacher, coach and athletic director (1985-2001).
“I want to add to what Ed Kirkwood and Kendra McCauley (Trojans athletics secretary) have been doing,” Goins said. “Both of them have been doing a good job doing what they do and I just want to add a little to that.”
Goins started teaching in 1975 in South Dakota.
He started his teaching career in Pahrump in 1985, retiring from teaching in 2014. He left Pahrump in 2001 to teach with the Clark County School District at Sierra Vista High (2001-2008) and then finished his career at Desert Oasis High (2008-2014).
In his long teaching career, he coached football (14 years), wrestling (one year), golf (25 years), basketball (five years) and track (eight years).
Fall marked the beginning of high school football season
Pahrump brought back Joe Clayton after a year break. He came back with the Jet Sweep offense and once again found success with the running game. The running attack totaled 1,263 yards rushing. The team had its first winning season since 1995 (6-3 overall, 3-2 Sunset League), and in the playoffs for the first time since 2012. They lost their opening-round game at perennial power Moapa Valley.
The Trojans boys cross-country team went to state as a team for the second year in a row after finishing second at the Southern Region meet. The team was led by junior Bryce Odegard, who had eight first places during the season, including a win at the region meet and became the first boy runner from Pahrump to win a state title in cross-country. Odegard was chosen to be on the Review-Journal all-state team for the second year in a row.
Add another new face to the fall season
The Trojans have a new band director, Michael Wineski. He has about 29 students in the marching band, better than when it started over 35 years ago.
Wineski, who has a master’s degree in music composition, took over in the fall. He has limited experience in teaching band but what he lacks in experience, he makes up for in dedication and his passion for music. During football season the band never marched, but that was this year, he said. He told the PVT he needs more time because they hired him during the summer and his band never got to practice marching, which is normally done during those months. Wineski said next year will be different.
Kostelnick breaks world record
It was called “Pete’s feet across America.” He started on Sept. 12 and finished on Oct. 24.
Pete Kostelnick won the Badwater Ultramarathon (135 miles) by two hours in July in Death Valley and then in September he started a world record run from San Francisco to New York City, finishing the run in 42 days, six hours, and 30 minutes for the world record.
Kostelnick averaged an amazing 72 miles per day for this feat. Kostelnick will return to Badwater and try to “threePete” in 2017.
The biggest controversy of the year in Trojans sports occurred in girls soccer. The Lady Trojans were coming off one of their worst seasons in 2015.
In the 2016 season, the girls turned things around and improved from fifth place and missing the playoffs to finishing in third place.
But a day before the playoff game, the team was notified it had to forfeit all its games because players from a private school played on the team.
The NIAA’s assistant director, Donnie Nelson, would not release names or details, adding this was the prescribed penalty.
“We had to act fast to let the teams involved know so that they could prepare for the teams they would now face in the playoffs,” Nelson said.
“It’s harsh and I feel badly about this and it’s an unfortunate situation.”
Pahrump finished with an official 0-19 record, having 12 wins and a tie erased from their record.
Principal Chris Brockman confirmed what Nelson said, but did not give any other information.
“I want everyone to know that the coach and the students were not at fault,” Brockman said.
The Lady Trojans would have returned to the playoffs for the first time since 2013, which was the year the team finished as state runner-up. This was also the best record the girls had finished with since that time. The team had been scheduled to play Virgin Valley in the playoffs.
Eight-time state champion McKenzie Dean returned to Pahrump to teach at Rosemary Clarke Middle School and will be the head Trojans track coach this spring. She came to the middle school in the fall. In October, the school made the decision to give her the track team.
“I am really looking forward to the opportunity, ahead of giving back to my community,” she said.
Dean ran cross-country and track at Pahrump Valley High from 2005-2009 under the coaching and motivation of Craig Rieger, Jason Odegard and Jill Harris. She also led the 2007 track team to a state title.
“I have great memories with that team, including one of my close friends, Dominique Maloy, her senior year.”
Dean has been inducted into the Nevada Cross-Country Legends Hall of Fame and was inducted into the Pahrump Valley High School Hall of Fame two years ago.
Dean is giving back to her community at the middle school where she teaches sixth-grade math, but she still wants to do some coaching with the track team.
First male member for dance team
Chris Geer made some local history when he joined the Pahrump Valley High dance team this year. Terri Wulfenstein, the Trojans dance team’s head coach, said Geer is the first one in their 13-year history.
He started dancing at a young age and was encouraged to do so by his father, who also danced.
“When I was 10 years old my father taught me to break dance and moonwalk,” Geer said.
He said he would show off his abilities at school dances but never took any classes.
Finally, a friend of his on the dance team, Torrie Martin, found out about his dancing and she convinced him to go out for the team.
Geer said he did it for his love of music.
“Before I danced, I played the trumpet until I was in eighth grade,” he said. “I had been playing since I was in fourth grade.”
Geer’s dancing comes from his heart and his natural abilities.
“During the summer I took classes to help me with my form. I took a technique class, hip-hop, jazz and ballet, all at Donna Lamm’s studio,” he said.
The Pahrump Nugget 250 is a success
After a 9-year break, the race returned Dec. 3 and was organized by Best in the Desert.
This event attracted 150 racers and brought roughly $15 million in economic impact to the region, according to Best in the Desert.
The winner of the race was Clyde Stacy from Bristol, Virginia of the RPM off-road racing team. He finished in 4 hours, 2 minutes and 36 seconds in the Trick Truck Division.
Second place went to the three-time winner of the Vegas to Reno Race, Jason Voss (4:03:14) of the Trick Truck Division and third went to the teammate of Stacy, RPM driver Justin Matney, of Bristol, Tennessee (4:10:05).
The event was the culmination of a year and half of work by Casey Folks, Best in the Desert president, the BLM and Nye County officials.
Contact sports editor Vern Hee at email@example.com