A cut above the rest: Rice tops STHS athletes | TahoeDailyTribune.com

A cut above the rest: Rice tops STHS athletes

Jeremy Evans

It’s widely believed that Ian Rice would’ve been South Tahoe’s best athlete regardless of which sport he played. In the ones he did play, he was one of Northern Nevada’s best.

Rice was voted the Sierra League’s defender of the year in soccer and was a second-team Northern 4A selection in track in the 400 and 800-meter dashes. He set the school record in the 400 (49.99 seconds) and missed qualifying for state in the two events by a combined eight-tenths of a second.

Missing the state meet by such a narrow margin would’ve devastated most high school seniors. Rice, though, isn’t your typical 18-year-old.

“I can’t be disappointed in myself,” Rice said about his two fourth-place finishes at the regional track meet. “Track is a sport where you build on each successive year. … And this was my first year going out for track.”

Yeah, that’s right.

This spring was Rice’s first season running track (he spent his first three years playing baseball) and he became one of the region’s top sprinters. For that reason – and for his performance on the soccer field last fall – Rice is the Tahoe Daily Tribune’s 2006-07 South Tahoe High School Male Athlete of the Year.

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“Ian is such a specimen,” STHS track coach Dan Wilvers said of the 6-foot-3 athlete. “I think we tapped into his potential. But no question, he’s going to be a top-end Division I runner by the time he’s out of college.”

Rice has accepted an invitation to walk on to Cal Poly’s track team, but it wouldn’t surprise soccer coach Chris DeLeon if Rice made the soccer team as well.

“I hope soccer will remain a part of his life, be it at the collegiate level or whatever,” DeLeon said. “But his size is what colleges are looking for. If he were to try out, the coaches would love to have that kind of a person on their team.”

Rice anchored a STHS soccer team that outscored its opponents 7-1 en route to the Vikings’ third straight regional championship. In fact, the team’s only goal allowed in regionals was a penalty kick in a 2-1 win over Reed in the first round.

In the 4A state semifinals, Rice displayed some of his other qualities.

When a scuffle broke out during the Vikings’ semifinal loss to Silverado, Rice corralled his teammates and urged them to remain focused. Despite his humble attitude, DeLeon said it would be a mistake to question his competitiveness.

“He didn’t push the other team. He pushed our players around and told them that they still had a task at hand,” DeLeon said. “He was verbal. He’s definitely a winner and a competitor. He does not like to lose.”

Rice wanted to win two straight state soccer championships – as well as run in the state track meet – but there wasn’t much left for him to accomplish.

“It’s turned out a lot better than I ever would’ve expected,” said Rice, who carries a 4.3 grade point average. “I don’t regret anything. It’s really been a dream come true.”