No quit in two-time defending state champs |

No quit in two-time defending state champs

Steve Yingling

Don’t count out South Tahoe High from winning a third straight state girls’ cross country title just yet.

Injuries have dogged the Vikings for most of the season, but now Northern 4A regional champion Reno has been bitten by the injury bug as well. Two of the Huskies’ top runners, Joelle Slater and Adrienne Vanetwerp, are questionable for Saturday’s state meet in Boulder City because of stress fractures.

South Tahoe senior Kelsey McClurg, seventh at last year’s state meet, won’t run for the Vikings on Saturday because of swelling in her back.

Vikings’ coach Dan Wilvers believes Slater and Vanetwerp will compete with their stress fractures to help the Huskies avoid finishing runner-up to South Tahoe for the third straight year.

“We would have gotten blown out at regionals if they would have competed last week,” Wilvers said. “We will be ahead of Reno after four runners, and like I said all season, had we had (a healthy) McClurg we would be the best team we’ve had yet, (but it) just wasn’t meant to be.”

The Vikings nearly upset the Huskies last week, pushing four runners across the finish line well before Reno’s fourth- and fifth-place performers came in. But the Vikings’ lack of depth has become increasingly transparent as the season has progressed.

“They don’t have an ounce of quit in them,” Wilvers said. “What’s happened in the past three years is that we have had an exceptionally strong group of girls that didn’t settle to be Nevada good, we wanted to be California good and ultimately nationally good. These girls have met the challenge of a rigorous training schedule throughout the summer and even more importantly they have chosen to be competitive. It is part of their identity, and that can’t be underestimated.”

So to answer your question when the difficulties with injury and illness arose this year the team will still compete,that is the bottom line. They don’t have an ounce of quit in them.

South Tahoe will need to make up 10 points this week on a Reno team that could be potentially stronger.

“The pressure is off,” Wilvers said. “I don’t want them thinking about a team championship. I want them relaxed and running hard.”

Kelsey Smith, last week’s regional runner-up to three-time champion Mel Lawrence, junior Kate Lambdin, sophomore Kylie Noll and senior Kimmy Arroues are running as well as they have all season so the Vikings won’t surrender their title without a fight.

“Kimmy is finally back health-wise and so I can’t wait to see her have the satisfaction of racing well in her senior state meet, along with the three other studettes,” Wilvers said.

South Tahoe, however, will likely need Jordan Dalton or Mary Kurek to produce a lifetime-best performance to take home its third straight title. Dalton’s 43rd-place result (23:19) helped the Vikings secure the region’s second berth to state, while Kurek had one of her best races of the season in placing 56th (24:07).

“They both will have their best races of the season Saturday and that will be great to experience,” Wilvers said. “When you spend almost every day for the past five months with these kids, you get a clear sense of what they’re about to do. Saturday will be special for a lot reasons, and none of those reasons has to do with whether we walk away with the championship.”

If the state title eludes the Vikings’ grasp for the first time since 2003, Wilvers said there will be no reason to be disappointed.

“I’ll be content, knowing all the factors involved,” he said. “Reno will be deserving, and despite the circumstances I’ll be as proud of these young ladies as any of the past two years teams. In fact, more pleased, simply because they never quit. That in the end means much more then championships, the character to strive when the circumstances are against you will be the greatest trophy to ever grace one of their trophy-lined shelves. It’s the only one that will never gather dust either.”

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