The Vikings’ senior boys had worked hard for this moment.
For Brandon Cramer, it was pushing through an annoying midseason injury. For Jason Rogers, it was competing at the state level in two events he had just learned. For Connor Henderson, it was four years of long-distance dedication, countless muscles cramps along the way and a state title to defend.
For all three of them, the Division I-A state championships in Las Vegas this past weekend would be their last high school competition, and the boys went out big. The three seniors closed out their high school career with four individual state medals for South Tahoe and three personal records as a high school souvenir.
Henderson came away with two silver medals, with one being a questionable first, in the one-mile and two-mile competitions. He obliterated his own personal records in the process.
On Friday, Henderson ran a two-mile in 9:53 for second place. It was a photo finish, and Henderson’s second place was deemed a field judgment call, much to South Tahoe coach Jake Hurwitz’s disappointment. Either way, Henderson destroyed his two-mile season best by 13 seconds.
“He ran a truly incredible race. He paced for about the first mile with the rest of the group and slowly just started separating,” Hurwtitz said.
By the last lap, Henderson had built a 40-meter lead.
On Saturday, Henderson chopped four seconds off the best mile he’s ever run. He finished in second place with a 4:34 mile time.
“That’s just smoking fast,” Hurwitz said.
Henderson came home with two medals and two new personal records.
Meanwhile, Cramer took third place in the 110 hurdles. It wasn’t his fastest, but he pushed through an injury to medal among the speedy sprinters that Southern Nevada is known for.
Cramer also finished eighth in the 100 meter with 11:83.
“His 100-meter time wasn’t the best he’s ever run, but that entire group was between 11:40 and 11:80 so he was definitely in the running for both events,” Hurwitz said.
Over at the high jump, Rogers managed to clear 6-foot-2 for a new personal record and a state medal. Rogers, who has been high jumping for all of about one month, has added 10 inches to his jump in the short time.
The South Tahoe team also got a chance to see the nation’s best high school high jumper. Division I high jumper Randall Cunningham, of Bishop Gorman, cleared the 7-foot-3 mark.
Roger ran in the 200 after taking fourth in high jump and finished seventh overall in the 200.
“Not his best on the year, but he ran a great race and was just really relaxed,” Hurwitz said. “As a first-year runner for him to make state in a sprinting event is pretty incredible.”
Cumulatively the boys scored 30 points for South Tahoe, not an easy thing to do at state, Hurwitz said.
For the girls, sophomore hurdler Jen Burks broke 50 seconds in the 300-meter hurdles. Burks new personal record of 49.43 was good enough for sixth place overall.
Right behind her, freshman Kerry Norton, cemented the seven spot.
“It wasn’t her best, but I think as a freshman there are some nerves that are attached with competing at this level. She’s going to be one of our key players in the next few years,” Hurwitz said. “At 90 pounds and 14-years-old, she could have also definitely been in the throwing group as well.”
There’s always next year for Burks and Norton, which Hurwitz is positive will find both girls competing in state again.
The girls relay team of Emily Treat, Karley Martinez, Cara Filce, and Gabriela Vargas also ran a strong race for seventh. Treat ran a personal record first leg of the race.
“We were running against Truckee, which broke the state record by more than 10 seconds,” Hurwitz said. “We were running into a strong headwind and just really fighting for position.”
“The entire team was happy with how they performed,” Hurwitz said, “and in the same right they got to go to Vegas and have an experience they’ll never forget.”