Near title in 2004 inspires Warriors to win it a year later |

Near title in 2004 inspires Warriors to win it a year later

Steve Yingling

Dan Thrift/Tahoe Daily Tribune Fellow George Whittell High cross country runners, from left, Jeremy Bahr-Worley, Willis Hughes and David King gather around their top finisher, Tyson Guajardo, right, after finishing the 2005 NIAA State Cross Country meet and Rancho San Rafael Park in Reno.

RENO – Whittell High runners had a long time to think about their near championship at last year’s Nevada 2A boys’ state cross country meet.

A two-point defeat in cross country running has the stinging effect of losing a baseball game on a ninth-inning homer or a basketball game on a full-court shot at the buzzer.

Being so close to victory causes members on the losing side to assume blame and wonder what he or she could have done better to prevent defeat. That’s how the Warriors felt after Sage Ridge edged them by two points for the 2004 state crown.

The painful missed opportunity served as the Warriors’ impetus as they ran away with the 2005 boys’ state title on Saturday at San Rafael Park.

The Warriors left little doubt who was the best after all five of their runners crossed the finish line in 16th place or better. That depth led to a winning score of 37 points. Defending champion Sage Ridge was runner-up with 52 points, and Southern 2A champion Laughlin was third with 58.

“We had a runner roll their ankle in warm-ups and another guy get passed at the finish line,” said Whittell coach Lindsay Wines, recalling some of the events that contributed to Whittell’s runner-up finish in 2004. “Since that time they were focused on getting the title they didn’t get last year. They knew what they could do and they came back and did it.

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“All seven of those kids have the biggest hearts I have ever dealt with. They don’t get acknowledged at school because they are runners. They are a wonderful group of kids, and it was a wonderful experience to work with these young men.”

Knowing the San Rafael Park terrain a little better than the competition, the Warriors’ game plan was to attack on the downhill section during the second mile. While Tyson Guajardo was attempting to chase down eventual winner Scott Eubanks of Laughlin, Whittell’s third through fifth runners were buried in 15th through 17th places. It was all part of their strategy to hold off their assault until the other runners were winded from running up the first hill.

“When Chris (Craig), Willis (Hughes) and David (King) passed me (on the downhill) I was a little nervous,” Wines said. “I told them to close the gap. On that downhill they all just busted it. They all just opened it up on the that back hill.”

By the finish line, Whittell’s top four runners were among the top 11. Guajardo couldn’t close the gap on Eubanks, who was 30 seconds faster than Guajardo with his winning time of 17:33.

“He started out really fast on the hill at the beginning, so I thought he might collapse at the end of the race. But he was strong the entire race,” Guajardo said. “At the very end of the race I was done.”

Guajardo, a junior, was third at the regionals the previous week.

“Every week he sees how much better runner he can be,” Wines said.

In addition to Guajardo, Craig, Hughes and Jeremy Bahr-Worley earned all-state honors by finishing among the top 15. Bahr-Worley was seventh in 19:08, Craig ninth in 19:19 and Hughes 11th in 19:29. Important points also came from David King, who was 16th in 20:14.

Kristin Kline spurred the defending state champion Whittell girls to a fourth-place finish. Kline, who was third at regionals, placed ninth on Saturday with a 5K time of 24:43. Teammates Danielle Daly (26:21) and Miranda Flores (27:27) were 18th and 19th, respectively.

Only four Warriors competed, but incomplete 2A teams can compete for the title by using a ghost runner (one point higher than the last runner in the field).

Lund’s Wendy Harris was the girls’ winner in 19:50, while Laughlin captured the team title by five points over Virginia City.