Lake Tahoe releases Hounds on nation
With the Junior Olympic Cross Country Nationals upon them, the runners of the Lake Tahoe Hounds club have been trying to stay ready for their big chance.
Three Hounds – Zack Powers, 14, Cody McGehee, 12, and Garrett Gibb, 11, will travel to Spartanburg, S.C. to run in nationals on Saturday. There, they’ll try to turn their high expectations into equally high finishes in the 2.5-mile races.
“(We’re) just mainly keeping them in shape, keeping the legs fresh to compete at the national level,” said Hounds head coach Anthony Davis.
Powers and McGehee have targeted finishes among the top 25 and Gibb a top-100 result among their age classes. While it will be a good race, those goals are not out of the question. All three runners competed this season in the very tough Junior Olympics Pacific Association, and qualified with top-15 finishes in the Region 14 Championships on Nov. 21 at Pleasanton, Calif.
“If the guys can place in the top 10 in our region, it’s likely they can place in the top 25,” Davis said.
But getting past the hype that surrounds nationals is one of the tasks at hand for Davis and his athletes. To help keep his athletes focused, Davis brought in three-time National Championships veteran Ben Johnson for a fun run during practice. All three are determined to stay focused.
“(It’s) just hanging with our competition and probably we’re going to be really tired at the end of the race,” McGehee said.
Powers and McGehee will compete in the youth (age 13-14) boys class, Gibb in the midget (age 11-12) boys class. McGehee finished fifth in 14 minutes, 53 seconds in Pleasanton, just two seconds and one place better than Powers. Gibb qualified with a 16:20 time, good for 15th. The top 20 from each region qualified for nationals.
The national-championship course in Spartanburg – in the northwest part of South Carolina – will offer a course that’s mostly flat, but with a few rolling hills. It also should be considerably warmer than northern Nevada for the race. But the Hounds are ready for any conditions.
“If it’s raining, if it’s snowing – which it probably won’t be – we’re pretty used to that,” Gibb said.
Amber Ramos of Christmas Valley, a member of the Silver State Striders running club, also qualified for the national championships, and will compete in the youth girls division on Saturday. The Lake Tahoe Hounds runners will leave for the meet today.
Two of the three Hounds qualifiers warmed up for their shot at nationals on Dec. 4 at the Foot Locker Western Regional Cross Country Meet at Mount San Antonio Junior College in Walnut, Calif. Gibb was 21st in the seventh-grade race, finishing the 2-mile course in 13:26, and Powers was 10th in the eighth-grade race, finishing in 12:18. Ramos was fifth among eighth-grade girls, finishing in 12:54.
Davis was 189th in the coaches and teachers race, finishing the 3.1-mile course in 24:42.
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