Shift to 3A allows Vikings to focus on invitational meets |

Shift to 3A allows Vikings to focus on invitational meets

Steve Yingling / Tahoe Daily TribuneSouth Tahoe High girls' cross country team runners train for their season Friday on forest trails behind the high school.

Less means better for the South Tahoe High girls’ cross country team.

Gone are the grinding midweek Sierra Division races in Northern Nevada. As a new member of Nevada Class 3A, South Tahoe structured its 2010 schedule with large invitational meets in mind.

“I am very excited about not having to run those midweek meets. Those were absolute killers as it related to training and preparing for the big invites,” said STHS coach Dan Wilvers. “Our schedule this year includes three of the top-four courses in Californian Woodbridge, Stanford and Mt. Sac.

“I would liken this schedule to a collegiate approach to racing. As it is, I believe high school kids over-race by as many as five races a season.”

Wilvers will run his Vikings against schools of their size at the invitational meets.

“I’ve chosen to race within our division this year at all the invites. I want to see how we hold up physically and give the girls some confidence at being one of the best D4 teams in California,” Wilvers said. “If they improve enough, we’ll get them into the sweeps at Mt. Sac.”

As South Tahoe begins its quest to win 3A regional and state championships, the Vikings must move on without three-time Nevada 4A individual state winner Kelsey Smith, who now runs for UCLA. Wilvers also lost Cassidy Cichowicz from his 2009 top-five contingent. Cichowicz left Lake Tahoe Unified School District for a private ski school on the North Shore.

In addition, several of the Vikings’ top returning runners are not 100 percent. Shelby McIntyre, who won the 4A state 1,600-meter title and was runner-up in the 3,200 meters, is recovering from a stress fracture suffered during the track season last spring, while senior Torrie Zaccor suffered complications from removal of her wisdom teeth, cutting into her preseason workouts.

McIntyre will be unable to defend her Meet of Champions title on Sept. 3 and could be out of the Vikings’ lineup until late September.

Despite the loss of Cichowicz, Wilvers is encouraged by newcomer Julianne Brackett, a junior.

“She looks to be a scorer,” Wilvers said.

Other runners to watch are Ali Messina, Sarah Benedict and Kaelyn Dion.

Instead of going toe-to-toe with Carson, Reno, Galena and Manogue at regionals, the Vikings will now compete with Lowry and Fernley for 3A supremacy.

“Honestly, the drop-off in competition from 4a to 3A is so dramatic,” Wilvers said. “But that doesn’t mean we’ll take anything for granted at all. All competition is important, and we have a goal to win state as much in the 3A as we did in the 4A.

“Part of the fun for us will be to see if we can win the virtual state title come November. We run the same course as the 4A, so when they combine all the races, I’d like to see us on top of all four divisions that day.”

Coach: Dan Wilvers, seventh year

Last year: STHS won its first regional championship and finished third in the state: Kelsey Smith won state and regional individual titles.

Key returners: Torrie Zaccor, senior; Karly Arroues, senior; Shelby McIntyre, junior; Kira Smith , junior; Lisa Johnston, junior.

Opener: Twilight Meet Sept. 3 in Reno.

STHS girls’ cross country schedule

Date Meet

Sept. 3 Reno Twilight Invite

Sept. 18 Woodbridge Invite

Sept. 25 Stanford Invite

Oct. 1 Tahoe Retro relays

Oct. 16 Bella Vista Invite

Oct. 23 Mt. Sac Invite

Oct. 23 JV Championships at Spanish Springs

Oct. 29 3A Regional meet

Nov. 6 3A State meet in Las Vegas

NOTE: South Tahoe’s home meet is in ALL CAPS.

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