Catching up to their glorious past |

Catching up to their glorious past

Steve Yingling / Tahoe Daily TribuneSouth Tahoe High cross country coach Dominique Westlake, left, leads his Vikings into his 17th season. Both of STHS's teams will open their seasons Friday at the UNR Twilight Races in Sparks.

Their cross country program has gone unnoticed for the past five years as Reno, Galena and Carson high schools have dominated the boys’ running landscape in Northern Nevada.

During that span, a South Tahoe runner here and there made a name for themself by qualifying for regional and state meets. But team successes have dwindled. Whether it’s been a combination of the competition, small numbers or not enough committed runners, the Vikings have struggled to regain some of the accolades the program experienced earlier this decade and back in the 1990s.

But there are a multitude of signs indicating that South Tahoe will capture some of its past glory in 2009.

“We’re not ranked or anything in Nevada, so we’re probably under the radar, but that’s OK,” said STHS coach Dominique Westlake. “We’ll just do our thing, and as the year goes on and we stay healthy, I think these guys are really going to show some guys some stuff and that South Tahoe is still around in cross country.”

Westlake is excited that the program is top-heavy with seniors and juniors who have tasted some success and are hungry for more. Returning for their senior years are Erich Baumann, Jordan Yingling, Kyle Wilkinson, Austin Pearce, Zildjian Borromeo and Adam Kern. Joining them is fellow senior Gio Magana, an up-and-coming boxer who fared well in distance races for the track and field team last spring. Experienced juniors Brady Hiob, the top-miler in the school; Nick Downer; and Justin Dalton round out an experienced and devoted group of seasoned runners.

Freshmen Connor Henderson and Brandon Cramer are proven middle school athletes who give Westlake the kind of depth he hasn’t seen in years.

“I’ve told these guys that they remind me a lot of the ’99 team, where there was a lot of talent and there were some young freshmen who came in who definitely contributed on that team, but it was definitely led by the seniors,” said Westlake, whose Vikings won their last state title in 1999.

Both Baumann and Yingling were in contention to qualify for the state meet last year, finishing 17th and 22nd at regionals. For them, the focus of their final season is leading their team to the state meet for the first time in five years.

“Our goal is pretty much to get focused on state, if not win state. With our team I think we could do that,” Baumann said. “Our top five should be within 30 seconds of each other, and then six and seven will be right behind. We’re going to have a good team this year.”

If the co-captains don’t take their team to state, they’ll feel responsible.

“We have great potential this year. We’d be ashamed to blow it,” Yingling said. “We have a lot of young guys looking to take some of the higher varsity spots, and it looks like they are going to work hard and run their best.”

Yingling and Baumann have been competing together in cross country races since their preteens, establishing a friendly rivalry that they hope will carry them far this season.

“It’s fun competition just to totally mess with each other,” Baumann said. “We go snorkeling, water-skiing, biking, anything. As you do that, you get better and you may surpass the others.”

Carson has the composition of an early season state favorite. The Senators finished a point away from a state championship last year, and many of their top runners return.

But anything can happen when a season comes down to one meet, and Westlake and his experienced team want to be part of it.

“Our No. 1 goal is to get to state, and once we get there, how we progress and how we prepare for that, that’s a whole nother goal for us,” Westlake said. “I know these guys would love to come away with some sort of trophy, first or second. That’s a pretty tall order, but you never know.

“I’m excited to see what these guys can do this year. It’s fun to watch these guys grow up and watch them mature.”

2009 STHS boys’ XC schedule

Date Meet Time

Friday UNR Twilight Races 8 p.m.

Sept. 16 Elko, Galena at Hug 3 p.m.

Sept. 23 Manogue, Douglas at STHS 3 p.m.

Sept. 26 Boise Invitational 10 a.m.

Oct. 2 South Tahoe Invitational TBA

Oct. 7 Carson at Wooster 3 p.m.

Oct. 10 Clovis Invitational TBA

Oct. 21 Damonte at Fallon 3 p.m.

Oct. 24 Spanish Springs Inv. TBA

Oct. 29 Regionals TBA

Nov. 7 State (North) TBA

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