Westlake short on seniors but not workers | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Westlake short on seniors but not workers

Steve Yingling

With a number of varsity spots up for grabs, it wasn’t surprising to see good turnouts for South Tahoe High boys’ cross country team’s voluntary summer workouts.

Coach Dominique Westlake lost five runners to graduation, and Rand Norberg is the only senior on this year’s team.

“These guys are coming together, just the way they are running. They have been really dedicated this summer, having the numbers out and putting the miles in,” said Westlake, who has welcomed 18 runners to the team.

On average, the Vikings have been logging about 45 miles per week, giving them a solid base that should help overcome the overall varsity inexperience of the squad. Juniors Erich Baumann and Jordan Yingling are the most seasoned returners, having competed at regionals last year. They will be joined by sophomore Brady Hiob, who saw varsity action as a freshman last year; junior Kyle Wilkinson and Norberg.

“During the summer we ran with Dan (Wilvers) every day of the week, instead of three days a week,” Baumann said. “We’re all in good shape.”

Added Yingling, “We’re getting along better than past years, and everybody is working together.”

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Patrick Reilly, the Vikings’ lone state qualifier last year, had a fair number of seniors around him to lead the younger runners. Norberg, however, won’t have that luxury.

“It’s cool being a senior, but I’m sorry that I don’t have another year,” he said. “It’s a building season, but we still have a chance … a lot of really good guys are coming out this year.”

Junior Will Caglia is making a push to make varsity after earning the program’s most improved runner last year.

“He’s come a long way,” Westlake said. “Will is a really good student, and he’s learned to focus his energies in the classroom, and he’s putting it together with his body.”

Northern 4A League realignment has complicated Vikings’ task of qualifying for regionals. Manogue and Galena have been added to the Sierra Division, and Reno has shifted to the High Desert Division. With Carson, Galena and Manogue expected to field strong teams, Westlake said qualifying for regionals would be an outstanding feat.

“We’re in a battle for fourth place in our division with Douglas,” Westlake said. “If we beat them (at Douglas) on Sept. 17, we’re in the driver’s seat.”

From there, only two Northern teams and five individuals not on those teams can qualify for the state meet.

“If you make out of the North this year, you are a stud,” Westlake said. “The North could have four teams compete with the top team from the South. The North is that good this year.”

The Vikings will put their summer training to work on Friday when they opener their season in Reno.

“When they get on the starting line, I just want them to compete … I want them to feel like they are race ready and they can compete with anybody,” Westlake said.