South Tahoe cross country wraps up season at 3A State championships, girls team finishes third |

South Tahoe cross country wraps up season at 3A State championships, girls team finishes third

Anthony Gentile
The South Tahoe girls cross country team warms up prior to the start of the state championship meet Nov. 5 in North Las Vegas. Left to right: freshman Carissa Buchholz, junior Ally Sullivan, freshman Moorea Davidson, freshman Briyona Ziegler.
Courtesy Photo |

NORTH LAS VEGAS, Nev. — The South Tahoe cross country team concluded its season at state Nov. 5, and finished strong on the biggest stage. In the 3A State championship meet at Craig Ranch Regional Park, the Vikings’ girls team finished third while two individual qualifiers on the boys side placed in the top half.

South Tahoe competed against Northern League rivals and Southern Region counterparts on a three-lap course that totaled 5,000 meters. Pleasant temperatures and calm conditions greeted runners at the start of the flat course — an abrupt change from the league meet a week earlier.

The South Tahoe girls made their first state appearance in four years, and ran to a third-place finish with 67 points behind league rivals Truckee (35) and Spring Creek (36). Freshman Carissa Buchholz led the way for the Vikings, running to fifth place with a time of 19:35.

“It was such a relief to have qualified for Vegas that I was concerned we would stop there, as if our job was done for the season,” Vikings girls coach Amanda Hammond said. “I asked the girls to race with as much integrity as possible and leave everything out on that course — and they did that.”

Junior Ally Sullivan delivered the Vikings’ next-best performance at state, finishing 12th by running a time of 20:16. Freshmen Hannah Trew (14th, 20:19), Briyona Ziegler (24th, 21:31) and Moorea Davidson (25th, 21:33) rounded out South Tahoe’s top five.

“The course was completely exposed to the sun, and I could tell all of the athletes were especially drained by the pace and weather,” Hammond said. “But they did not back down. We finished strong and earned that third spot.”

Freshman Eliana Carney (32nd, 21:52) and sophomore Emily Dilts (46th, 23:05) completed the Vikings’ contingent of seven runners. At the state championships, five of South Tahoe’s runners set new personal records — and all will return next fall.

“This team is young and will return next year,” Hammond said. “I know the girls want more as a group and are willing to work for it.”

On the boys side, junior David Holmes and sophomore Christopher Hoefer represented the Vikings. The race got off to a quick start with the lead runners going through the first mile well under five minutes — and South Tahoe’s runners maintained their own pace, passing by the same mark in a little over five minutes.

“I was pleased that both David and Christopher controlled the pace,” Vikings boys coach Mark Hoefer said. “They could have gotten themselves in trouble early on by going out too quickly on such a flat course.”

Accustomed to running on hills, South Tahoe’s runners had to “create their own hills” on the course that featured elevation gain only in the form of two speed bumps. Holmes and Hoefer had to do this by throwing in surges throughout the race — a plan they executed well.

“They surged and either dropped or caught runners as they moved up in the field,” Hoefer said. “The efforts paid off, as they each ran awesome races.”

Holmes and Hoefer ran to personal-best marks, topping previous top times delivered earlier this season at the Stanford Invitational. Holmes placed 20th with a time of 17:31, and Hoefer took 27th by running a 17:53 — and both will lead the charge as the Vikings aim to return to state as a team next season.

“They trained and raced hard all season, and it paid off with awesome races at the end of the year,” Hoefer said. “You can’t ask for anything more as a coach.”

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