South Tahoe’s Buchholz repeats, claims 3 state track championships
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — Carissa Buchholz stood at the starting line, a nearly full moon rising on one side of the horizon, a purplish-red sunset on the other and the stands filled with fans.
The South Tahoe track star wasn’t nervous, but felt a little stressed.
“I feel like I have a reputation to uphold,” Buchholz said.
The junior entered the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association Class 3A Track and Field Championships Friday and Saturday, May 17-18, as the defending champion in the 800-, 1,600-, and 3,200-meter runs and favorite to repeat.
Wherever she races, she’s usually the one to beat.
Buchholz was reminded of that fact when she was announced last over the public address system and her winning resume was revealed to the crowd at Desert Oasis High School in Las Vegas.
Most of the her competitors likely already know who she is, but now the whole stadium knew.
“When they announce you as the defending champ it definitely added more pressure,” Buchholz said. “But I had to remind myself that I put in the work and was prepared.”
Buchholz shrugged off any pressure Friday night and buried the field in the 1,600.
She finished her favorite event in a personal best time of 5 minutes, 9.34 seconds, about 2 seconds ahead of her nearest competitor.
Buchholz was tired but back at the track at 7 a.m. Saturday with tight, stiff legs preparing for the 3,200.
She got her legs in form and they carried her to a dominating victory over the field. She finished 5 seconds clear of second place in 11:32.99.
Two hours later, she ran the 800, and that’s where she carried most of her anxiety.
She was worried she wouldn’t have fresh enough legs to do well.
She ran a season’s best 2:19.21 to win her third event in less than 14 hours.
“It’s hard to come back the next morning,” Buchholz said. “I had to get up early, we got back late from dinner and I was pretty tired. I was most nervous about the 800 because you need fresh legs. At state, times are really fast and I just had to mentally prepare, and I held it together.
“It was fun, but hard for sure,” she added. “Running the 1600 was really fun because it was underneath the lights.”
“She won all three events in a matter of 14 hours,” said Vikings head coach Rick Richardson. “She was just outstanding. I was very impressed. That’s her eighth state title when you look at her two cross country championships as well. She stays healthy, and that’s a big plus to Everett Goldberg (South Tahoe’s CTE exercise science teacher who leads the strength and conditioning for the school’s athletic teams). He says she is meticulous, never late and never misses a workout. She’s made of titanium, she’s bulletproof. She’s just a different breed.”
Buchholz didn’t travel to Vegas as the only team member. She received support from longtime friend and state first-timer, Zoe Brosch, a, Vikings sophomore, who qualified in shot put, and her longtime long distance coach Mark Hoefer, also the team’s associate head coach.
Brosch in just her fifth ever meet, threw a personal best distance of 33 feet, 2.75 inches to earn fifth place.
“It was so awesome,” Buchholz said. “It’s nice to have someone down there and she was real supportive and I supported her. We go way back, I went to state my freshman year with her older sister.”
Richardson is excited for Brosch’s future.
“Zoe is going to get a lot better,” Richardson said. “She’s just a sophomore and is still learning technique. She’s a dancer and she already has strong footwork. She’s like Carissa with her work ethic, they both already act like they are in college.”
Buchholz earns Gatorade State Player of the Year award
Before Buchholz swept through regionals and state, winning everything in site, she received the Gatorade State Player of the Year award for being a super athlete along with being a top student.
Since 1985 Gatorade has been awarding students for “their athletic excellence, academic achievement and exemplary character.”
Receiving the honor Buchholz says is vindication for her dedication to the books as much as the track.
“It means a lot to me because I pride myself in my grades and academic performance,” Buchholz said. “It’s cool I get to be a part of that award that recognizes student-athletes.”
Buchholz said the academic week before the state meet was one of the most demanding of the year.
She had state and AP testing, “which are really stressful tests for me,” she said.
“She is the epitome of student-athlete,” Richardson said.
“All season I go to practice and don’t come home until late then I’ve got to put in 3-4 hours of homework,” Buchholz said.
Winning the award included a “cool” trophy, a backpack with a fancy water bottle with the words Gatorade Student athlete of the Year and the ability to donate $1,000 to a program of her choice.
She donated it to the Girls on the Run club that serves Northern Nevada and Lake Tahoe.
“It basically introduces girls to running,” she said, “and it’s a good way for them to start.”