Commissioner sanctions Vikings’ cross country team
Northern Nevada 4A Commissioner Ron McNutt sanctioned the South Tahoe High girls’ cross country team on Wednesday.
The Vikings won’t be allowed to compete in Saturday’s Stanford Invitational following the school’s forfeit of a Sierra Division race on Sept. 16 in Reno.
“After reviewing the cross country rules and regulations (as developed by their coaches and adopted by the 4A board), I concur with our original decision that South Tahoe cross country team should not be allowed to attend a meet on Saturday, Sept. 26,” McNutt said in an e-mail to STHS Athletic Director Don Borges.
STHS coach Dan Wilvers pulled his team from the four-team meet with Galena, Hug and Elko because of what he determined was an unsafe race course for his runners. The 2.75-mile course at Lois Ann Elementary School required participants to run mainly on pavement, including several steep downhill sections. Wilvers’ team trains primarily on forgiving running trails in the wooded area behind the school. The veteran coach was concerned for his runners’ safety and wanted to ward off triggering any debilitating injuries.
“Why not forfeit?” Wilvers said. “Why put this pounding on their legs. Once you decide the course isn’t conducive to racing, it’s only going to hurt your kids more.”
Wilvers said he never considered instructing his girls to jog the course.
“To be the No. 1 team in the North, if we had gone out there and not run fast, I was afraid that we were going to get what we got for forfeiting because I was told by the commissioner of cross country, don’t ever do that. You’ve got to run your best at conference,” he said.
“I did the honorable thing and forfeited and took the loss, thinking that’s what they would have wanted me to do rather than just go out there and jog the course.”
The Stanford meet is one of the Vikings’ most-anticipated meets on the season schedule.
“I’m pretty bummed. I didn’t know that was coming,” said Shelby McIntyre, a STHS sophomore.
Two-time defending state champion Kelsey Smith said it is difficult to understand the decision.
“It’s tough, you know,” she said. “Having been training for a big race like Stanford and then not being able to go because of concern for our safety, it just blows my mind that that’s what we are being punished for.
“We totally support Dan with the decision, and we just have to deal with what happens.”
Wilvers hinted that the Vikings may compete in the Mount Sac Invitational in late October to give his girls another big meet.
“It will be better for these girls because they all will be acclimated to school, and we will be peak form,” Wilvers said.
McNutt said that there wasn’t serious consideration given to penalizing the Vikings for their home meet with Douglas and Bishop Manogue on Wednesday.
“Eliminating them from a conference meet would only add to the problem,” he said in his letter. “Therefore, not allowing them to attend their next scheduled nonconference meet, which would be on Saturday, would justify the rule.”
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