Help has arrived for Westlake
For 18 years Dominique Westlake has soloed as the coach of the South Tahoe High boys’ cross country program.
Coaching as many as three dozen runners in a given season, Westlake has always found the time to coach each and every one of them six days a week during the fall. Routinely, Westlake also gives up part of his summer vacation to train those willing runners.
After all these years trail blazing for his program, Westlake finally has some help. Former South Tahoe runner Chris Cosmi assisted Westlake with the voluntary summer workout program and will continue to help him during the fall season.
“It’s really been nice,” said Westlake, repeating his response twice to show what Cosmi’s presence has meant to him. “Having Chris is great. Chris brings his own personality, flavor and intensity to the team. These guys get it from somebody else, which is great.”
Like Westlake has done throughout his coaching career, Cosmi has gone through the workouts with the team. Cosmi’s passion for running started in Westlake’s program and has followed him into adulthood.
“He loves coming out here to run, and you’ll see him in the wintertime running. He’s one guy that never stops running,” Cosmi said. “He loves teaching us and he loves coaching and being around these kids, and you can definitely see how it affects all of these kids. He’s taught me a lot about running, and he’ll teach these kids a lot about running.”
Senior Narturi Narciso, a second-year team member, has prospered under Westlake’s structured and disciplined program. Most of all he appreciates Westlake practicing what he preaches.
“I really like how he actually runs with us. He actually does what he tells us to do, and same with Chris,” Narciso said. “It’s really nice having somebody running right behind you and saying, ‘Come on, you can do this.’ “
Brady Hiob is the senior member of the squad, having competed for the varsity since he was a freshman. Hiob fractured a knee during the summer and is slowly restrengthening the muscles behind that knee. He won’t compete in the team’s opening meet Friday in Sparks. Despite his injury and one to freshman Harley Norton, Hiob is optimistic about the Vikings chances in the all-new 3A.
“Now that we’re down in the 3A, I really want to take this team to state,” Hiob said. “That would be really cool for Mr. Westlake because I don’t think he’s been to state for quite some time.
“We don’t have the depth that we’ve had in recent years, but now that we’re down in the 3A, I really think it’s manageable.”
With the majority of Westlake’s 17 runners freshmen and sophomores, the 19th-year coach is counting on his three seniors to lead a successful season.
“I’m expecting Justin, Brady and Narturi to lead as seniors, lead as a team and to be examples of what that is in everything they do with these guys, because that is going to pay off for them,” Westlake said.
South Tahoe last won a boys’ state cross country in 1999, and Westlake is hoping this squad at least has a shot at one in November.
“We’ll start off kind of rugged, but as the season goes along we’ll really start to come together as a team. By the end of the season, I think we’ll really by clicking and be a very strong team,” Westlake said. “I’d love to see these guys get to state. I think they can do better than that. I think they can compete for one of the top-three positions at state, but considering Brady being injured and Harley coming in injured and being as young as we are, we have to wait and see how the season pans out.”
Reaching the state meet has been elusive for the Vikings since the last championship, but now that the schools has been reclassified in the 3A, there is a better opportunity to reach that goal.
“I definitely feel it’s more realistic,” Dalton said. “We’ve got a strong sophomore class and we have a couple of seniors, so I think we have a legitimate shot at making state.”
Hiob added, “This year state is the icing on the cake, I hope.”
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