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Stress fracture ends Smith’s decorated prep career at STHS

Steve Yingling, Tribune sports editor

Kelsey Smith doesn’t need a final track and field season to go down as one of South Tahoe High’s most successful athletes ever.

The South Tahoe High senior long-distance runner has been ruled out for the remainder of the Vikings’ meets after doctors discovered a sacral stress fracture near the base of her spine.

The three-time Nevada state cross country champion has been advised not to resume running until June at the earliest, according to coach Dan Wilvers.

“I am, of course, heartbroken for her,” Wilvers said. “After the Celiac journey that wiped out most of her junior year, the heat stroke last May the week before state, then the ‘Hog Flu’ in September, this girl hasn’t caught a break. She was so ready to rip this spring,” Wilvers said.

Smith believes the injury happened during the Foot Locker West Regional in December.

“That was the first time there was intense pain, then I was pushing through the pain and probably cracked it even more,” said Smith, who last competed March 27 in Fallon. “I couldn’t run without it hurting so bad.”

Wilvers has guided Smith from the shadows of three-time state champion Mel Lawrence (Washington) as a freshman and into, not only South Tahoe’s most accomplished runner ever, but one of the most successful athletes in Nevada prep history. In addition to her individual cross country championships in 2007, 2008 and 2009, Smith won state 3,200 and 1,600-meter track and field titles in 2008.

“When I think about everything as a whole, it’s an amazing feeling. I’m really proud of what I’ve accomplished and where it’s taking me next year,” Smith said. “There are no regrets. I’m happy with everything that has happened to me.”

While the books have closed on Smith’s storied high school career, she can now look ahead to a collegiate running career. Smith recently signed a national letter of intent to run for the UCLA cross country and track and field teams.

“We are very excited to have her on the squad next year,” said Forest Braden, a distance coach for UCLA’s men’s and women’s teams, in an e-mail to the Tribune.

Smith joins the powerful Pac-10 conference, which is loaded with some of the nation’s top runners in Lawrence, Jordan Hasay (Oregon) and Kendra Schaaf (Washington).

“It’s going to be a challenge, no doubt about that,” Smith said. “I’m going to work as hard as I can and help my team.

“I’m definitely looking forward to becoming part of a major team, meeting new people and getting the whole college experience. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”

Wilvers said that Smith has remained in top condition because of her commitment to cross training and would still be a threat to win at state if not for the injury.

“I’d make here the favorite for the two mile if she could run at state, but it’s just a wee bit too soon with too much at stake for her future running career,” Wilvers said.


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