Vikes on track for success |

Vikes on track for success

Steve Yingling

Welcome to a new era of track and field at South Tahoe High. No longer do the athletes spend as much time in a gymnasium as the school’s basketball players. For now on, the first track they see won’t be someone else’s.

“It is as if we are in a dream world, especially since it is only the second week of practice and we are out on the track,” said seventh-year STHS coach Melissa Berry.

Most of the snow load was removed from the track last week, allowing the athletes to train at the new $3 million facility at South Tahoe Middle School.

“Finally our athletes will have some of the same advantages as the others in the league,” Berry said. “There is nothing quite like being able to have the athletes run on a good surface and practice their specific events with the correct equipment instead of just doing the best they can in a gym. No longer will we have to go off the hill to find a good track – the best track is right here.”

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The Vikings will show off their new facility on April 19 in the South Tahoe Invitational. The Vikings will have some athletes that should shine along with their new track.

Sophomore Kelsey Smith should be a favorite to win at least one state title in the distance races. Last year, she finished a close second to Mel Lawrence, now a freshman runner at Washington, in the 3,200 meters.

Seniors Kate Lambdin and Brendan Rice nearly joined Smith at state last year and should make a run at making it this spring. Lambdin placed fourth in the 3,200 at regionals – only six seconds off a state berth – and Rice was fifth in the high jump at 6 feet.

Other to watch are senior Chelsea Madsen, who will diversify from the 400 runner she was last year. She’ll compete in the sprints and jumps, as will sophomore Alyssa Mesecher.

Top newcomers include junior sprinter Chris Klug, freshman hurdler Erik Cramer, freshman jumper/sprinter Blair Berry and freshman sprinter Kory DiGrande.

“It is exciting to have a group of freshmen who will be able to hold their own now and perhaps be at the top in a year or two,” Berry said.

One of the more popular events this spring for the Vikings has been the pole vault. The event has been missing at STHS for nearly two decades as the condition of the old Olympic track deteriorated. Reintroducing the event to the Vikings is former Cal Poly decathlete Brett Long, who designed the track complex.

“They are aching to try it,” said Long, who has been teaching his pupils technique until the necessary equipment arrives.

Long won a state high jump title for the Vikings in 1992 and went on to take back-back conference titles in the decathlon in 1996-97. Long will teach other field events to the Vikings.

South Tahoe opens it season on Saturday at the Reed Invitational.

STHS glance

Coaches: Melissa Berry, Dan Wilvers and Brett Long

Key returners: Kate Lambdin, Kelsey Smith, Brendan Rice, Chelsea Madsen

Key losses: Ian Rice, Rob Davenport, Kimmy Arroues

Opener: Saturday at Reed Invitational.

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