STHS’s Smith wins third straight state cross country title |

STHS’s Smith wins third straight state cross country title

Steve Yingling, Tribune sports editor

Steve Yingling / Tahoe Daily TribuneSouth Tahoe High senior Kelsey Smith crosses the finish line for her third straight Nevada 4A state cross country title on Saturday in Reno.

RENO – Kelsey Smith made sure that she won’t be forgotten by Nevada state cross country history buffs.

The South Tahoe High senior won her third straight Nevada 4A individual championship on Saturday at Rancho San Rafael Park, becoming the sixth runner in state history to win at least three titles.

Like she did in the regional championships a week earlier, Smith ran away from the field to win the 5K race in 18 minutes, 59 seconds – 33 seconds faster than runner-up Katie McFarren of Carson. McFarren also was runner-up to Smith at regionals.

“It was my last time racing ever (at state), might as well push it with everything I have,” Smith said. “I had no idea I’d win three state titles. You never know who’s going to come up, because there could have been like another Mel (Lawrence) who just blew me away.

“I was hoping for it after my second place at freshman state meet since Mel was a senior. That was my goal. I just never knew if I’d be able to achieve it.”

Carson, however, took home the first-place team hardware, putting four runners in the top 18 for a score of 58. South Tahoe, which won the regional championship and was seeking its first state championship since 2005, finished third at 90. Arbor View of Las Vegas broke up a potential Northern Nevada trophy sweep by placing second with 83 points.

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At regionals, the Vikings placed all five of their runners in the top 20, but on Saturday, Smith was the only Viking among the top 20. Sophomore Shelby McIntyre, who was fourth at regionals, dropped out near the halfway point of the race because of an undisclosed reason.

“The most bitter defeat I’ve ever been associated with. We were so good (last week),” said STHS coach Dan Wilvers. “Even if we wouldn’t have run as good, we would have won today.”

With McFarren still within threatening distance on the second lap, Wilvers implored Smith to push her pace on a hill leading up to the backside of the course.

“The first lap you always go out the hardest, and then the second lap, you are like, ‘I’ve got to save it for the third,'” Smith said. “That second lap is the hardest lap because you are not mentally into it all of the way, so with Dan there, it made go so much faster.”

Junior Torrie Zaccor was the second Vikings’ runner to cross the finish line, placing 23rd in 21:26. An exhausted Zaccor collapsed in the finishing chute and didn’t rise to her feet until 20 minutes after the race.

Sophomore Kira Smith was South Tahoe’s third-best runner, as the younger sister of the three-time state champion finished in 31st place at 21:42. Lisa Johnston, also a sophomore, was 35th in 21:52 and sophomore Cassidy Cichowicz came in 38th at 21:58.

Whittell High School also produced a state medalist on Saturday. Junior John Robinson placed fourth in the Nevada 2A meet, completing the three-loop course in 17:58. He was one of four competitors to break 18 minutes.

“I wanted third, but (Sierra Lutheran’s) Nathanael (Williams) ran a lot worse last week, or I ran better. He was ahead of me by a lot this week,” Robinson said. “I felt like I might have started too fast.”

Robinson used a solid kick coming over the hill that descended into the finishing chute, edging out two runners for fourth place.

“I prefer not to rely on that, but it worked,” Robinson said.

Sierra Lutheran’s Wade Meddles won the race with the fastest time of the day at 16:06, breaking Carson’s Richard Shroy’s one-week old course record of 16:09. Incline’s Mike Sunseri stayed within shouting distance of Meddles over the first half of the race before Meddles pulled away. Sunseri claimed second place in 17:03, while Sierra Lutheran’s Williams was third at 17:17.

Whittell senior Chris Crawford bested most of the 47-runner field, placing 13th in 18:48. Mikey George of the Warriors finished 29th in 19:38 and Zach Welch came in 32nd in 20:06.

Sierra Lutheran also captured the 2A boys’ title, while Incline was a decisive champion in the girls’ 2A division. Highlanders’ sophomore Briana Drago posted a winning time of 20:23 – 35 second faster than Sierra Lutheran’s Becky Grabow.

Whittell sophomore Sammy Rupp – the only female participant for the Warriors – finished 15th in 22:55.

Behind Shroy’s victory and a seventh-place finish by teammate Nick Schlager, Carson won the 4A boys’ title. Shroy’s winning time of 16:11 was four seconds faster than runner-up Bryan Jordan of Galena. McQueen’s Geoff Hull was third at 16:25 and Elko’s Eric Sandall placed fourth at 16:38.

The Senators took first with 49 points and were followed by Centennial (56), Green Valley (79), Reno (98) and Galena (102).