Vets, newcomers give South Tahoe track extra burst |

Vets, newcomers give South Tahoe track extra burst

As far as the South Tahoe High track programs ran the past season, they’re still going.

That’s true on the boys side, where the Vikings return two zone champions, but are still building under head coach Rick Brown. It’s true on the girls side, where a strong group of young runners give coach Julie Pope hope for the future; and it’s true all around a Vikings program that must travel down Spooner Pass for its home meets, like Saturday’s opener, which begins at 9 a.m. in Carson City.

Tahoe’s tracksters are the Tennessee Titans of Northern Nevada. Not only do the Vikings have to practice inside until the snow melts off the South Tahoe Middle School track, but they have to travel, even for their two home meets. Even though both those meets are in Carson, that’s not much of a distraction to Brown or the athletes.

“They’re fine,” Brown said. “Obviously, they would much rather be able to drive 10 minutes as opposed to having to sit on the bus for 30 minutes.”

But it’s a minor inconvenience for a team with potential. Brown expects big things from his team, which returns zone champs in junior sprinter Jake Hurwitz and senior high jumper James Clemmer.

“This year’s team has the potential to be the strongest in the school’s history, with the guys who were on the state champion cross country team,” Brown said. “They’re all out for track.

In addition to Hurwitz, who false-started out of the state championship after winning zone, and Clemmer, who could be sidelined with an inner-ear infection, South Tahoe has the two runners Brown ranked as Northern Nevada’s best 800 specialists in Grant Carter and Matt Arzio. They’ll join Jeff Cosmi and Manuel Lomeli on a 4×800 relay team that has set an eight-minute goal for itself.

“There’s so much talent in the varsity boys group,” Brown said. “We’ve got a couple of kids who haven’t proven themselves yet, but have enough desire combined with the talent that I think they’re going to surprise some folks.”

Junior intermediate hurdler Jerry Seeley and senior David McKenna are two of those.

“He’s come out with a new attitude around here,” Brown said of McKenna. “He’s working hard. He’s in great shape.”

As winter has forced practice inside, that enthusiasm has spread like a germ in the gym. Brown started posting school records on the gym wall years ago, but this year, the athletes are treating the marks like targets instead of lofty ideals.

Along with the veterans, sophomore Josh Griffin, a transfer from Rite of Passage, could challenge even Hurwitz in sprints, and freshmen Hudson Wilvers, Chris Cosmi and Sean Pawling give South Tahoe three quality distance runners. Junior Wayne Lucero could emerge to fill South Tahoe’s need at triple jump.

Enthusiasm’s also high on the girls side. While South Tahoe still could be a couple of years away, it won’t take much longer than that. Most of the athletes who have impressed Pope so far are freshmen and sophomores.

“We’re very young, and I probably don’t think we’ll be state championships by any means, and I don’t think we’ll be able to win zone,” Pope said. “But in the next two years, watch out.”

Amy Carter and Lindsey Hitt, a pair of sophomores in the 110 and 300 hurdlers, give South Tahoe’s girls a potent tandem in the event. They’ll probably join classmate Danielle Kelleher and freshman Cindy Davis on the 4×100 relay team. Davis, a player who clearly has impressed Pope with her drive, could be an early threat for several team records.

“Cindy Davis, I believe, will break the triple jump record – if not by the first meet, maybe by the third,” Pope said.

Freshman Jackie Marshall may fill in at the 400 for the Vikings, and Pope anticipates using junior Melinda Lomba at the long jump, triple jump, high jump and 100. Another long jumper, Katie Allegrini, also could see time at sprints. Beth Kirkland, Rachel Romero and Lisa Orr give the Vikings a solid core in the distance events.

So far, Pope has 39 athletes come out, and the team is making the most of its time in the gym.

“They work hard,” she said. “We put them through a pretty tough workout in here.”

Along with Brown and Pope, an improved staff of assistant coaches, like Dominque Westlake – the coach of South Tahoe’s state-champion boys cross country team – Anthony Davis, Eric Seitz and Elliot Hubler give South Tahoe the versatility it takes to succeed across the board. While Pope still hasn’t had the chance to inspect all of her athletes, Brown’s team already is building on its mission from last year. Last year, the Vikings boys wanted to see how many athletes they could send to state. This year, they’re trying to see how many events they can qualify athletes in.

One of the important considerations, though, is to get the Vikings peaking at the right time. Brown emphasized the track athletes may want to do in March what they did in May, but they’ll need to rebuild.

After all, they’re still making strides.

Vikings track and field:

Head coaches: Rick Brown (sixth year) and Julie Pope (first year); assistants Jeff Seitz, Elliot Hubler, Anthony Davis, Dominique Westlake

Key athletes: jumper Katie Allegrini, junior; hurdler Amy Carter, sophomore; hurdler Lindsey Hitt, sophomore, distance runner Beth Kirkland, senior; high jumper Courtney Wilson, senior; high jumper James Clemmer, senior; distance runner Jeff Cosmi, junior, sprinter Jake Hurwitz, junior; hurdler David McKenna, senior; hurdler Jerry Seeley, junior; distance runner Hudson Wilvers, freshman

Coach’s key: “On of the big problems we have running indoors like this is keeping our focus on what the end-of-the-season goals are,” Brown said.

Opener: Conference meet, 9 a.m. Saturday, Carson City

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