South Tahoe girls cross country finishes third at 3A Northern League championships, punches ticket to state |

South Tahoe girls cross country finishes third at 3A Northern League championships, punches ticket to state

Anthony Gentile

SPARKS, Nev. — For the first time in four years, the South Tahoe girls cross country team is taking a full complement of runners to state. The Vikings earned the third qualifying spot from the 3A Northern League championships Friday, Oct. 28, at Shadow Mountain Sports Complex.

"The performance they put down was unreal, and I couldn't be prouder," Vikings coach Amanda Hammond said. "It was a lot of blue and gold together, and it was great."

South Tahoe comfortably earned the last qualifying spot from regionals with 62 points, finishing behind champion Spring Creek (38) and second-place Truckee (39). The Vikings' placed five runners in the top 16 — junior Ally Sullivan along with four from the program's talented freshman class.

"That was our goal as a team, to make it to state — and we made it," Vikings freshman Briyona Ziegler said.

“The performance they put down was unreal, and I couldn’t be prouder.”Amanda HammondVikings coach

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The Vikings ran through wet, muddy conditions to advance to state. Freshman Carissa Buchholz fell early on in the race, but still finished as South Tahoe's top runner by placing ninth with a time of 21:18.

"The key was just to get out there and go for it," Buchholz said. "It was definitely a crazy race with the conditions, but we got out there and had some fun — and tried our best because state was on the line."

Freshman Hannah Trew ran three seconds behind Buchholz in 10th, finishing the 5k course in 21:23. Sullivan was next to cross the finish line for the Vikings in 12th with a time of 21:43 — the junior advanced to state for the third year in a row after two straight seasons qualifying as an individual.

"It's really cool to bring girls with me to state," Sullivan said. "To have everybody here makes it way more fun and much more worth it."

Ziegler and fellow freshman Moorea Davidson ran identical marks of 22:02 to finish 15th and 16th. The frosh duo turned in its best performance of the season at the league meet, passing a number of runners throughout the race as part of a strong effort.

"About a mile into the race, they had girls in front of them that we needed to beat," Hammond said of the team's fourth- and fifth-place finishers. "I told them to work the pack and they listened — every time I saw them, they had moved up."

The final two of seven Vikings to race last Friday were freshman Eliana Carney (31st, 23:40) and sophomore Emily Dilts (32nd, 23:42). South Tahoe last qualified for state as a team in 2012, and ended the drought by achieving its season-long objective.

"There's lot of new girls on the team, and it's really cool that we get to make it to state," Davidson said. "At the beginning of the season during summer, we thought we could make it and had a really good chance."

South Tahoe will conclude its season at the Class 3A State championships Saturday, Nov. 5, at Craig Ranch Regional Park in North Las Vegas, Nevada. The Vikings will race at 12:40 p.m. for the team title against Northern foes Spring Creek and Truckee along with Southern Region qualifiers SECTA (Paradise, Nev.), Boulder City (Nev.) and Desert Pines (Las Vegas).

"We want to try to move up and take Truckee or Spring Creek out of the top two positions," Sullivan said. "Third is amazing, but we've been really close to them and if we really push it at state we can definitely move into those spots."