South Tahoe cross country wins academic state title; Sullivan runs 4th in Div. I-A race
LAS VEGAS — The South Tahoe cross country team left the NIAA Div. I-A state championships with hardware that reflects its quality both on the course and in the classroom. The Vikings’ boys and girls teams were each named academic state champions at the meet Nov. 8, an award given to the teams with the highest combined GPA from the previous semester.
“We didn’t win the team races, but most ran personal bests and we also took first place in GPA for both boys and girls,” Vikings coach Jake Hurwitz said. “As a coach, this is as good, if not better, than any win in my book — these kids earned it both on and off the course.”
In the boys state championship race on a fast, flat course at Sunset Park, South Tahoe finished fifth out of six teams with 106 points. Spring Creek took home the team title with a score of 50 points, while Faith Lutheran (Las Vegas) junior Chase Wood won the race with a time of 16.37.0.
“This is a new team with either first or second year runners — qualifying and competing in state gave us a wonderful opportunity to see where we stand with our competition, South Tahoe coach Amanda Hammond said.
For South Tahoe, junior Dillon Lemons was the top finisher. Lemons finished 18th with a personal record of 17:47.8 — and ran a 5:44 mile pace.
“Dillon came out for cross country for the first time this year,” Hammond said. “He has absolutely dominated with both his natural speed and good attitude toward the work that has to be put into this sport.”
Junior Orion Maxwell came in 21st by running a 17:57.9. Maxwell battled minor injuries while finishing as the Vikings’ second runner.
“Orion is my most competitive athlete,” Hammond said. “He comes out to every practice and every race to go all out.”
Junior Paul Mutz placed 25th in a personal best 18:06.7. In his second year running cross country, Mutz took nearly three minutes off his best time from last season.
“He has only become consistently better since joining the sport as a sophomore,” Hammond said.
Junior Mario Mangiaracina finished 33rd by running an 18:27.0. Hammond said the runner that relies on quick starts has taken time off his best 5k mark from the previous season.
“He is the only one of my athletes that goes out as fast as he can,” Hammond said. “That is his style — and the rest of his races have caught up with him.”
Sophomore Freeman George rounded out South Tahoe’s top five. George placed 42nd with a time of 19:07.5 to wrap up his first season with the sport.
Juniors Paul Hoefer (19:29, 45th) and Chase Stalter (20:49, 52nd) also raced for the Vikings at the state meet. Hammond said Hoefer delivered one of his best performances of the season, while Stalter filled in at the last minute for an injured teammate.
“All of the varsity boys are returning next year with a stated goal of winning state,” Hammond said. “We will work on ending up that minute-plus faster everyday this summer.”
On the girls side, South Tahoe had two runners compete individually — freshman Ally Sullivan and junior Riley Rettig. Truckee won the team title, placing five runners in the overall top eight to finish with 21 points — Wolverines senior Sklyer Flora won the race with a time of 18:44.1.
Sullivan finished fourth by running a 20:05.3. She wrapped up a stellar freshman season by passing Truckee’s Carrie Bradley in the last third-mile to finish fourth.
“Ally is an experienced and calibrated athlete and we are so fortunate as a team to have her — she knows how to train, how to race and how to compete in this sport,” Hammond said. “She is still competing in USA track events and is just starting a hugely successful running career.”
Rettig placed 32nd with a time of 22:52.2. It was the junior’s third straight appearance at the state championships — and her second year in a row making it as an individual qualifier.
“Riley always races well,” Hammond said. “Out on the course she is no-nonsense and fierce — this is why she has gone to state as an individual qualifier these past two years.”
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