Smith, Vikings go for a school first |

Smith, Vikings go for a school first

Steve Yingling, Tribune sports editor

South Tahoe’s regionally and nationally respected girls’ cross country program could do something Saturday it has never done before: take home the girls’ team and individual state championships.

The Vikings will go for the state sweep on Saturday morning at Rancho San Rafael Park in Reno. The Nevada 4A girls’ race is set to start at 11:25 a.m.

In addition to the South Tahoe girls, Whittell High School will have five runners competing in the Nevada 2A races.

South Tahoe, seeking its third girls’ team title, has a chance to join 10 other schools around the state that have won at least three championships.

South Tahoe coach Dan Wilvers is reluctant, however, to look ahead to a possible title since his team has incurred misfortune in the state meet in past years.

“It certainly has that potential, but as in previous years there always seems to be something come up,” Wilvers said. “In ’06, Kate (Lambdin) caught a bad cold on Monday, and Kylie (Noll) got the 24-hour flu on Friday evening. Lovely. Last year, Kira (Smith) woke up sick, and Torrie (Zaccor) had an asthma attack. So we’ll see. “

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Smith has a chance to join a select group of runners – five, in fact – who have won at least three individual titles. Reno’s Mel Lawrence (2004-06) was the last to claim three state titles, while Green Valley’s Abby Miller is the lone four-time champion (1996-99).

“I’m just going to race like I raced (at regionals) and push it even harder if I can,” Smith said.

In winning her second regional title Oct. 29 in 19:00, Smith was more than a minute faster than the Sunset and Sunrise winners from Las Vegas.

Running on different courses but at a lower elevation, Shadow Ridge’s Elaina Vlassopoulos won the Sunset title in 21:04, while Coronado’s Lauren Lucas was victorious in 20:26.

If they are unable to push Smith, maybe the competition for the title will come from a teammate. Vikings’ sophomore Shelby McIntyre placed fourth at state last year and won the regional 3,200-meter track title as a freshman. According to coaches, McIntyre was disappointed with a fourth-place showing at regionals, so she could be the one to watch.

“Only Shelby could beat Kelsey all things being equal, but like I’ve said the last three years, I wouldn’t bet against her,” Wilvers said. “As good as Shelby can run, and Shelby is a great runner, Kelsey has a third lung. If she is well, you will have to outbleed her to beat her. What she did last year with her Celiac Sprue disease and still win state is still my all-time moment as a coach for an individual runner. That was an amazingly tough performance, and she destroyed the field last year.”

Coronado, last year’s state runner-up to Galena, should be among the contenders challenging South Tahoe for the title. Coronado placed three runners in the top eight at the Sunrise regionals. Arbor View, a Sunset regional runner-up, could also provide a stern test for the Vikings. The Aggies placed six runners in the top 15 and finished second to Shadow Ridge.

“We’ll need the same effort 1-5 we got last week, and I am hopeful for Lisa (Johnston) and Kaelyn (Dion) as well. They ran their best race so far last week, and I think they can go even faster. We have some depth this year.”

Whittell’s John Robinson and Sammy Rupp should also be among the favorites to finish near the top of the 2A boys’ and girls’ races.

Robinson, a junior, finished fourth in last week’s regional meet in Carlin, an outstanding achievement given the competitiveness of the region. Sierra Lutheran’s Wade Meddles, one on the country’s top runners, won the race in record time of 16:36 and was followed by Incline’s standout runner Mike Sunseri at 17:37. Meddles’ Sierra Lutheran teammate Nathanael Williams finished third at 18:05, just ahead of Robinson at 18:21.

Rupp, a sophomore, placed seventh at regionals and is the only female qualifier for the Warriors.

Whittell’s Chris Crawford, Mikey George and Zach Welch will also compete. Both Robinson and Crawford cracked the top 10 a year ago, with Robinson taking eighth and Crawford 10th.

Carson should be the prohibitive favorite to win the Nevada 4A boys’ crown. The Senators won their first regional title under coach Pete Sinnott last week and feature two of the top runners in the field: Richard Shroy and Nick Schlager.

One of the more interesting races of the day will be to see who posts the faster time overall: Shroy or Meddles. Last year, Meddles won the 2A title and posted the fastest time among all of the champions.

State meet schedule

• 2A girls at 10 a.m.

• 3A girls 10:45 a.m.

• 4A girls at 11:25 a.m.

• Girls’ Awards Ceremony at noon

• 2A boys at 12:30 p.m.

• 3A boys at 1:10 p.m.

• 4A boys at 1:45 p.m.

• Boys’ Awards Ceremony at 2:15 p.m.