Can Vikes overcome injuries, sickness to win regional running title? |

Can Vikes overcome injuries, sickness to win regional running title?

Steve Yingling

There is no room for an off-day today at the Nevada 4A regional cross country championships at Rancho San Rafael Park in Reno.

With only two team slots available to next week’s state championships, runners can’t afford to have a cold or slightest ailment if they hope to extend their seasons by a week.

In addition to the two team qualifiers, the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association allows for the top five runners not on the state qualifying teams to advance to Boulder City on Nov. 8.

The South Tahoe High girls’ chances at state are unclear since the Vikings have been decimated by injuries throughout the season. Defending state champion Kelsey Smith has overcome a condition that has rendered her lethargic on occasion and is questionable for today’s race after coming down with a bad cold late last week.

Sophomore Cheldon Rabbetts, one of the team’s top four runners, won’t compete because of a very sore tibia tendon. Coach Dan Wilvers, however, is elated that freshman Cassidy Cichowicz will be making her high school debut. Cichowicz has been shut down since last year because of an pre-stress condition to her left heel bone.

“In five years, I’ve never anticipated a runner’s performance more than Cass’ this week,” Wilvers said. “From both a competitive perspective (wanting to win regionals and/or qualify for state) and just plain curious to see what her cross training and personal desire will achieve (today). That’s worth the price of admission alone for me.”

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Despite these injuries, the Vikings were able to win the Sierra Division with a 7-0 record. Smith, freshman Shelby McIntyre and sophomore T.J. Zaccor led the team to the division title, but Wilvers has had more team depth than other seasons.

“A one-two punch from Kelsey and Shelby is hard to overcome but not insurmountable. (They) are the top two in state, period,” Wilvers said. “Torrie running very well as our third. Can Kira (Smith), Cass, and either Lisa (Johnston) or Kaelyn (Dion) round out our top five ahead of the two other teams?”

Carson and Galena pose the biggest threats to ending the Vikings’ season. The Vikings were only two points better than the Grizzlies at a dual last Thursday, and Carson has three strong runners who will place among the leaders.

“The possibility of not qualifying is very real if we are compromised any further by Kelsey or another kid getting sick,” Wilvers said. “We’re hanging on by a thread right now. We’ll just have to wait and see (who) we can line up.”

A young STHS boys’ squad – with only one senior – likely is a year away from qualifying for state. But juniors Erich Baumann, Jordan Yingling and Kyle Wilkinson have a shot at qualifying individually if they run their best races of the season.

Bryan Tibaduiza, a senior from Galena, is the defending regional and state champion.

Meanwhile, the Whittell Warriors have a definite shot at qualifying for the Nevada 2A state meet. With Wade Meddles, one of the state’s top runners, Serra Lutheran is a decisive favorite, but Whittell, North Tahoe and Sage Ridge figure to wage a dogfight for second place.

“The battle for second place could be a fun one,” said Whittell coach Lindsay Wines.

Wines has developed her top four runners into a tight pack, but Whittell’s chances of bringing home a second-place trophy hinge on how well its fifth runner performs.

“We need the No. 5 guys to step up. Zach (Welch), Allen (McLeod) or Mikey (George) has to close the gap a bit,” Wines said.

John Robinson, Chris Crawford, Adam Kingman and Adam Laub have led the surging Warriors, who won the Spanish Springs Invitational last Friday.

Beth Garcia and Miranda Flores have been the Whittell girls’ most consistent runners and are the team’s best state hopefuls.

The top four 2A schools advance to state, along with the top five runners not on those teams.

Scheduled race times are 2 p.m. for the 2A boys, 2:35 for the 3A boys, 3:10 for th 4A boys, 3:45 p.m. for the 2A girls, 4:25 p.m. for the 3A girls and 5:05 p.m. for the 4A girls. An awards ceremony will follow at 5:40 p.m.