STHS harriers go for state title repeat | TahoeDailyTribune.com

STHS harriers go for state title repeat

Steve Yingling

Can history repeat itself?

South Tahoe High’s girls’ cross country team sure hopes so.

Last year, the Vikings were upset by the Reno Huskies at the regional meet in Reno. A week later, however, the Vikings brought home a bigger prize by capturing their first state title.

Last week, the Huskies repeated their upset of the Vikings at their home course – San Rafael Park. Unlike last year, though, Reno will have a chance to capture a state championship on that same home course Saturday. The state finals were in Las Vegas a year ago.

“This Reno team is good and they would love nothing more than to take us down,” said STHS coach Dan Wilvers. “But what we possess is a competitive spirit. Our girls are fighters. They will not back down, not for anyone.

“They will lay their best race is on the line Saturday, I have no doubt about that. Of course (Reno can win), but they will have to pay a heavy price to do so.”

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The Vikings traveled to San Rafael Park on Wednesday for a tempo run, further familiarizing themselves with the tricky course.

With Kylie Noll, Kate Lambdin, Kimmy Arroues and Kelsey McClurg capable of all finishing in the top 10, the Vikings’ title hopes likely hinge on their fifth runner – senior Megan Hillyard. Hillyard fought her way to 23rd place at regionals as she was ill for the second straight race.

Reno capitalized on the Vikings being less than 100 percent as the Huskies’ fifth runner placed 11th, securing the regional title.

Wilvers said he expects a healthy Hillyard to run a much better race Saturday.

“Megan will have the race of her life Saturday,” Wilvers promised. “She did it at (Nike Team Nationals) last year, and she wasn’t close to the condition she is in now.”

Patrick Reilly leads two South Tahoe boys’ qualifiers into state. Reilly, a sophomore, was 13th at regionals with a 5K time of 18:45. Senior Jack Williams qualified for his second state meet, placing 16th. Both runners became confused after the top runners started slower than anticipated.

“They need to run their pace regardless of what the other runners are doing,” said STHS boys’ coach Dominique Westlake. “Those (top) guys started taking off after the first 1,000 meters and they weren’t ready for that. It’s a matter of knowing what they are capable of and just going out and doing it.

“In my mind, both can finish in the top 20.”

Reilly led after the first mile last year but was unable to keep his fast pace going.

“He went out a little too hard, being a freshman he got a little carried away,” Westlake said. “He’s a seasoned veteran now. He’s more race savyand won’t do that this year.”

The 4A boys’ race is at 10:15 a.m., while the 4A girls race at 12:40 p.m.

Whittell’s boys have an opportunity to win their first state championship since 1980 when George Buchholz led the Warriors to the last of four straight 1A titles. Whittell also won 1A titles in 1973 and 1974.

Based on their runaway regional triumph last week in Independence, Whittell is the 2A state favorite. Tyson Guajardo and Jeremy Worley finished 3-4 as four Warriors were among the top nine placers.

Southern 2A regional champion Laughlin figures to be the Warriors’ toughest challenger. The Cougars placed five runners in the top nine at regionals, including winner Scott Eubanks (17:24) and runner-up Derek Fajardo (18:49). But the Cougars must run at 4,000 feet higher this Saturday.

Kristin Kline placed third, helped the defending state champion Whittell girls finish third at regionals last Saturday.

The 2A boys’ start the first of six championship races at 9 a.m. The 2A girls are set to run at 11:15 a.m.