Warren Mills takes great pleasure in shaving off his mustache.
Every time he does, his Lakers are state champions.
"Every year we've won, I've shaved it off," said the longtime North Tahoe cross-country coach, clean-shaven after adding a Nevada-record 23rd state championship to his collection Saturday - 16 boys titles and seven girls.
Few of Mills' championship teams dominated like his boys of 2012.
After cleaning up at regionals a week prior, the Laker boys ran away with the Division III state championship in Boulder City, posting the second-best score in NIAA history.
The Lakers recorded a low team score of just 19 points, which was four away from the boys state record of 15 - a perfect score - which North Tahoe (1996) holds along with Lowry (2005). Their 19 points Saturday ties the 1985 Laker boys as the second-lowest total in the NIAA.
Every one of the North Tahoe runners stepped up to make it happen. They captured four of the top six spots, including 1-2 finishes by Noah McDermott and Patrick McElravey, and placed all five of their scoring runners in the top eight.
"The key for us was, they ran tight from the start of the season. They just saw each other," Mills said. "Noah might have won all the races, but Patrick was just as important - they were all just as important."
McDermott was not going be defeated. The junior crossed the finish line of the 5-kilomter course in a time of 16 minutes, 56.8 seconds to claim the individual state title. He won every race he entered from the start of the season.
McElravey, a senior, finished runner-up in 17:12, while junior Shane Christian finished fifth in 17:34.2, senior Sean McDermott was sixth in 17:42.2 and junior Peter Holmes was eighth in 17:43.9.
Sean McDermott hadn't raced in a month after suffering a stress fracture in his foot. But he returned to action just in time to help lead the Lakers in their championship performance.
"We decided to save him for last race, and it worked out perfect," Mills said.
Zachary Hunt of Excel Christian was third in 17:16 and Levi Dodge of Incline, which finished second to North Tahoe with a team score of 50 points, was fourth in 17:20.8. North Tahoe freshman Julien Bordes finished 13th in 18:10.3 and junior Brandon Hackett was 19th in 18:33.4.
Sage Ridge was third as a team, with 91 points, and was followed by Sierra Lutheran (106), West Wendover (131) and Lincoln County (142). A total of 47 boys raced.
Reflecting on his latest state championship, Mills conceded that his Lakers exceeded his expectations.
"I didn't expect it, but we knew we had some horses coming back, obviously," he said. "With Shane and Peter coming out, that was a big plus. They just fit right in perfectly."
Noah McDermott, McElravey, Christian and Sean McDermott all made the All-State first team, which are awarded to the top seven finishers, while Holmes and Bordes made the second team.
The North Tahoe girls, meanwhile, found themselves in a race with Incline for the state championship.
Regional champion Tara Gallant led the charge, as the North Tahoe sophomore held off Incline freshman Stephanie Homola to earn the individual state title in a time of 21:04 to Homola's 21:20.8.
Incline claimed the team championship, however, posting a low score of 32 points to the Lakers' 58. The Meadows was third with 86.
"They have a good program," Mills said of the Incline girls, who have now won the last four state consecutive state championships. "They have a great coach and a good feeder program. Bill (Devine) lost some kids last year and he reloaded this year and is just as strong. So we've got our work cut out for us (in the future)."
North Tahoe freshman Sophia Tallarigo finished fifth in 21:55.4, while senior Emily Nall was 14th in 23:12.3, sophomore Ingrid Roske was 20th in 24:44.6 and freshman Holly Lewis was 26th in 25:49.2.
Jeneke Heerema of The Meadows was third in 21:28.3 and Hannah Laurie of Incline was fourth in 21:54.1. There were 43 girls in the race.
"The girls are really a good story too," Mills said of his young squad. "For Tara to come through and run as she did was huge. And then Emily Nall showed up as a first-year senior and was incredible. And Sophia as a freshman, she runs a very relaxed first half-mile and then she starts going after it."
Gallant and Tallarigo made the All-State first team and Nall the second team.
While the Highlanders edged the Lakers on the course, the North Tahoe girls aced their neighboring rivals in the classroom, as they were awarded the academic state championship for earning the highest collective GPA in the state.
"In the Division III, all the hardware came back to the lake, and you can't complain about that," Mills said.