Saturday’s Northern Division I-A regional championship meet at Rancho San Rafael Park in Reno was bittersweet for the Truckee cross-country team.
The boys team missed qualifying as a team for Saturday’s state championship by just one point.
While Spring Creek and Elko battled it out for the top two Northern Nevada seeds — with Spring Creek coming out on top by a mere two points, 59-61 — it was Truckee and Fallon contending for the final team berth. Fallon squeaked by with a heartbreaking 85 points to Truckee’s 86.
With five out of the seven Truckee runners managing to attain personal records (PR) on a rather slow course at altitude, it was quite evident that they were truly giving it their all.
Leading the charge for the boys was junior Noah Oberriter, who finished second in a time of 17:09, just 5 seconds behind Spring Creek’s Daniel Sallee. Nick Morgan, a senior, finished in 12th place with a time of 18:10. Both Oberriter and Morgan qualified for the state championships as part of the top five individual finishers outside of the team results.
Also finishing in the top half of the competitive field were two more seniors, Simeon Murphy, who placed 19th (18:38), and Ian Wilson, who placed 22nd (18:48). They were followed by Jared Murphy in 31st (19:21), Hudson Verbeck in 36th (19:54) and Jenner Tresan in 45th (20:41).
Coach Rob McClendon was impressed by the showing.
“It was an amazing effort by the boys with five out of the seven runners having PRs on a pretty slow course,” he said. “Missing state by one point is difficult to swallow, but it was a great season. Noah and Nick ran a great race to make it as individuals.”
Meanwhile, the storybook season of the Truckee girls added yet another chapter with a convincing regionals win over a strong Spring Creek team, 28-37.
Not only did the Truckee girls register the fastest overall time of the day, across all divisions, they were the fastest Division IA (formerly 3A) team in the history of regional and state contests held at Rancho San Rafael Park since 2001.
In fact, there are only two Nevada teams that were faster on the course in this century: Reno High’s Division I (formerly 4A) dynasty years of 2003 and 2005 with the legendary Lawrence sisters. Truckee’s cumulative regional team time of 1:43:05 on Saturday was just 12 seconds off Reno’s 2005 state championship time.
At the helm for Truckee was defending regional champion Skyler Flora, a junior, who ran the fastest time of the day across all divisions and the fourth fastest time in course history, with a 19:15. Also breaking the rarefied 20-minute barrier and placing second was junior Gabrielle Rinne, who finished in 19:49.
The other scorers for Truckee were freshmen standouts Carrie Bradley in sixth (21:02), Claire Lang-Ree in seventh (21:11) and Amanda Rae in 12th with a new PR of 21:47. Rounding out the strong varsity presence were freshman Syra Fillat in 19th (22:33) and sophomore Olivia Yale in 28th (23:20).
“The girls ran as a pack and it was a great team effort with Skyler and Gabi leading the charge,” McClendon said.
“It was awesome weather, the best I could have asked for,” said Flora, Truckee’s team captain and two-time NIAA northern regional champion. “I felt really good the first mile. The intercepting girls stuck with the rest of the team to bring them in with us. The second and third mile we took off. Once I got to the downhill, I just kind of went for it.”
Flora is looking forward to doing it all over again Saturday at State: “I am really excited. We have a really strong team and have a really good chance of winning (state).”
McClendon is also looking forward to this weekend: “We have a great shot winning the Truckee girls first cross-country state championships. It will be close and every runner will count. In championship races you need a little luck. Spring Creek is a great pack-running team and will try to move up in the race.”
Despite the influx of teams and individual qualifiers from the NIAA’s Southern region, Truckee’s major competition remains the cross-country powerhouses of Spring Creek and Elko.
With defending state champion Shelbie Dorsa of Elko out for much of the season with a stress fracture, Elko is not as competitive as they usually are. Consequently, the Truckee-Spring Creek rematch will likely determine whether Truckee girls will continue to make history on Saturday.