South Tahoe cross country rises to the challenge at Kiwanis Invitational, boys place second on tough course
TAHOE CITY, Calif. — In one of the most challenging races of the season, the South Tahoe boys cross country team rose to the occasion. The Vikings took second at the 41st-annual North Tahoe Kiwanis Invitational on Friday, Sept. 11, at North Tahoe High, producing a strong result at a competitive meet.
“This may have been the best race I have seen the boys do collectively,” Vikings coach Amanda Hammond said. “Keeping their heads up and working hard is now paying off — they’ve earned this.”
The Vikings raced schools from across Northern California and Northern Nevada on the tough 3.3-mile course. The course started with a steep elevation gain, stayed uphill until the last half-mile, and was characterized by rocks, dust, hills and a large group of runners.
“The athletes came in from this race dustier and more tired than I have ever seen them,” Hammond said. “They rose to the challenge of the rigorous course and competition well.”
South Tahoe finished with 104 points, eight behind meet winner North Tahoe. The Vikings ended four points ahead of Div. I-A Northern League rival Elko; Spring Creek placed fourth with 120 points.
“They made significant strides to beat out Elko from when we saw them at the Douglas class races just two weeks ago,” Hammond said. “That was huge because Elko is one of the strongest programs in the state.”
Dillon Lemons was South Tahoe’s top finisher at the invitational. The senior placed 10th with a time of 22:04.91.
“I plan to keep improving, and working on gaining positions with myself and with my team,” Lemons said.
Senior Orion Maxwell came in two spots behind Lemons, finishing 12th with a time of 22:04.91. Seniors Mario Mangiaracina (18th, 22:56.28) and Paul Mutz (19th, 22:58.25) finished in close quarters to round out South Tahoe’s top four — Mutz got a little poetic when talking about the course
“The hills broke their bodies, and other schools cried,” Mutz said. “North Tahoe was rough, but we’ll place at regionals with pride.”
Sophomore David Holmes also finished in the top 50 at Friday’s meet, placing 45th with a time of 24:04.18. Senior Griffin Hobson (52nd, 24:31.62), junior Freeman George (60th, 24:52.75) and senior Paul Hoefer (61st, 24:53.65) placed in South Tahoe’s top eight.
On the girls side, senior Riley Rettig led the way with a 28th-place finish and a time of 28:27.99. Junior Sierra Bedwell placed 72nd by running a 31:40.56.
“We are very much in transition, but all the girls who raced Friday handled the challenge well,” Hammond said. “I’m proud of the girls team. We are small yet growing, and I hope to have all seven running at the varsity level within two weeks to get a better idea of where we stand in the league.”
Sophomore Ally Sullivan raced for the Vikings in the frosh-soph event. Despite being boxed in at the start of the race, Sullivan ran to a 67th-place finish with a time of 31:08.22.
“The hills were tough,” Sullivan said, “but I eat hills for breakfast.”
South Tahoe returns to action Saturday, Sept. 19, at the 11th-annual Josh Ruff Memorial Trojan Invitational. The meet held at Willow Hills Reservoir in Folsom, Calif., starts at 9 a.m.