McClurg: Vikings’ brightest star
Editor’s note: This is the second in a series of four stories honoring the high school athletes of the year at George Whittell and South Tahoe:
By Jeremy Evans
Tribune staff writer
When it comes to long distance runners at South Tahoe High School, cross country and track coach Dan Wilvers has a spoil of riches: Kimmy Arroues, Kylie Noll, Kate Lambdin, Jordan Dalton or Kelsey McClurg can win races on any given day and would star on any team in Nevada.
However, there was one runner who distanced herself from the pack during the 2005-06 school year, one runner who has suffered from health problems and has still found a way to establish herself among the Northern 4A’s elite. That runner was McClurg.
“Here’s what sets her apart from the other girls,” Wilvers said. “Kelsey has the ability to go out in the distance and she also has leg turnover to go for speed. She has that rare commodity of speed and endurance.”
It was that rare combination that allowed McClurg to help lead the Vikings to their second straight 4A state cross country title in the fall and then collect two third-place finishes at the 4A state track meet in the spring. It was also that rare combination that resulted in McClurg being named the Tahoe Daily Tribune’s Female Athlete of the Year for South Tahoe.
“I’m very surprised by this,” McClurg said. “I just considered myself a member of the team.”
McClurg took seventh at the state cross country meet and was named to the Northern 4A first team. She placed third in the 1,600-meter run at state in a time of 5 minutes, 29.60 seconds and was a member of the school-record setting 4×800 relay team (9:46.85) that also took third at state.
“She never seems to do as well as she wants to and that’s because she’s so driven to do well,” Dalton said of her teammate. “She’s a standout runner. She just wants to be amazing.”
Wilvers predicts McClurg could break the 5-minute miler barrier next year as a senior. Actually, if not for a snow-covered track that kept the Vikings inside until mid-April, he believes she might have been able to do that this season.
But for all of her potential, perhaps the most impressive thing about McClurg is what she has to overcome. She suffers from exercise-induced asthma, which causes a person’s windpipe to shut down when put under extreme duress. It can develop quickly in a sport as strenuous as running.
“I won’t be tired, really, I just won’t be able to breathe,” McClurg said. “But it’s calmed down a lot in the past year.”
It has happened enough that McClurg has done a better job of handling it, which usually requires scaling back the intensity of her workouts. Wilvers has noticed McClurg listens to her body more and that attentiveness should enhance her success next year.
“If all the stars line up, she could have a senior year like Hudson,” Wilvers said of his son Hudson Wilvers, who set school records in both the 800 and 1,600-meter runs in 2003. “You don’t necessarily expect it. But you know if everything works out – health, weather, work ethic and ability – that she could produce some really high-end results.”
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