Star Buchholz injured, but Lady Vikings still qualify for state cross country meet
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — The South Tahoe girls’ cross country team recently mixed heartbreak with joy.
Vikings star runner, senior Carissa Buchholz, was injured leading up to the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association Class 3A Northern Region Championship Saturday, Nov. 2, at Rancho San Rafael Regional Park in Reno and was unable to qualify for the state meet.
While Buchholz, the two-time defending state champion, won’t be going for her third consecutive crown, the Lady Vikings, led by three freshmen, still qualified for the prestigious meet as a team.
“I’m really bummed that I’m missing out,” Buchholz told the Tribune on Tuesday. “I would have loved to race and defend my state title again. But I am so proud of my team. As much as I didn’t like being a spectator at the meet on Saturday, I loved seeing all the work our team has put in throughout the season pay off. I knew that the girls could make it to state without me and that is exactly what they did. They were strong competitors and really showed all the other teams what the tough Tahoe girls are made of.”
Buchholz said she should be ready for track season in the spring and hopes to come back stronger than before.
“The goal now is to come back even stronger,” Buchholz said. “I was told yesterday that I’d be out for 12 weeks. I’m very confident that I’ll be ready to dominate during track season.”
The Vikings’ three freshmen of Tinley Sweeney, Evelyn Bennett and Kayli-Ann Sanchez finished in the top 17 while seniors Eliana Carney and Melanie Maher were 22nd and 33rd, respectively, to help push the team to state, just five points better than Lowry (93-98), for the third and final qualifying spot.
Sweeney was 11th in a time of 21 minutes, 50 seconds on the 5,000-meter course, Bennett was 14th in 22:16 and Sanchez was 17th in 22:25 in the 45-runner field.
Spring Creek took first with 36 points while Tahoe-Truckee was second with 38.
“With our top runner Carissa not racing due to a hip injury, the team still pulled a spot at the state meet,” said Vikings head coach Katie Sheehan. “We are very excited about racing at the state meet with two seniors and three freshman on the roster. We worked really hard this season and the freshman have shown huge improvements.”
The South Tahoe boys finished fourth in the team standings, one spot shy of advancing to state, but will send three as individuals.
Junior Leyton Sweeney was the top finisher not on a state-qualifying team. He finished in fourth place in a time of 17:43, 38 seconds behind the race winner in a 60-runner field.
Freshman Max Menke finished 22nd overall and was the fifth individual qualifier and sophomore Raymond Charley was 24th and the final qualifier.
The runners return to Rancho San Rafael Saturday for the NIAA 3A State Cross County Championships.
The girls’ race begins at 10 a.m. while the boys will start at 12:15 p.m.