Viking harriers come home with second-place hardware
South Tahoe High cross country desires to be noticed.
There is no better way to get recognized at school than coming back from the state meet with a pair of runner-up finishes.
That’s exactly what the boys and girls teams did. Both Viking squads came away with second-place trophies.
The girls team did what they set out to do – beat Reno and Carson, both of whom the Vikings trailed at zone.
“I never thought we’d do as well as we did,” sophomore Katie Sheehan said. “But we did get our main goal of beating both Reno and Carson.”
South Tahoe led a trio of teams from the North to finish in the top five. Carson came in fourth and Reno was fifth.
The Vikings were only two points off winner Centennial, a Southern team that had more experience on the course at Boulder City.
“We did the best we could, all the girls peaked at the right time,” Viking coach Kathy Bluethman said. “All the Southern teams had a little advantage because they had all ran the course before.”
Advantage or no advantage, the Vikings got some great performances from key runners to propel them into the second slot.
Freshman Amber Ramos finished in fourth place overall, third in scoring, to lead the Viking runners.
Her time of 20 minutes and 6 seconds was less than 30 seconds behind top finisher Shanna Sparks of Carson.
“Amber wasn’t too elated with her race,” Bluethman said. “She was going back and forth with Megan Mathews (second-place finisher) for the first mile, then in the last mile, the Bishop Gorman girl came out of nowhere and edged her out.”
Erica Zampardo was the next South Tahoe runner to finish when she came in 15th (21:02) and had a key performance for the overall team standings.
“Erica provided us with a huge difference in scoring,” Bluethman said. “She was a solid rock for the whole race. It was her best race all season.”
Coming in two spots behind her was junior Marin St. Michel, who also finished in 17th the year before. Her time of 21:11 was an improvement over her previous time and she was happy to go as a team instead of as an individual.
“She got her wish to compete as a team,” Bluethman said.
Caitlin Robinson finished right behind her in 18th with a time of 21:15 and Cecilia Cuevas was 28th (21:49).
“Caitlin met her mark and put us in there. She outsprinted the runner from Cimmeron Memorial for the last mile and a half to have a great finish,” Bluethman said. “Cecilia made sure we finished high as well.”
Katie Sheehan finished 52nd (23:03) and Amanda Hammond 65th (23:46) to help the scoring for the Vikings.
“I wish I could have got a little higher finish,” Sheehan said. “I would have liked to stay with Marin and Erica a little more.”
The boys were coming off a state championship season, but found themselves chasing Reno all season long.
Again at state, the Vikings found themselves looking up at the Huskies. But they were the only team South Tahoe saw in front of them in the final standings.
“I’m happy for the guys because its been a rough season with injuries and all,” Viking coach Dominique Westlake said. “If we were healthy, we’d been right there with Reno.”
The Vikings scored the majority of their points by having runners finish in successive order. Chris Cosmi and Manuel Lomeli came in 14th and 15th, respectively, while Jeff Cosmi was 16th and Derrick Giannoni 18th.
“Derrick and Chris have been our most consistent runners all season long, ” Jeff Cosmi said.
Lomeli and Jeff Cosmi battled injuries throughout the season, but Cosmi was still pleased with his performance at the state meet.
“I’m just glad that I finished in the top 20 this time,” Cosmi said. “In the past I’ve usually done poorly there.”
Sean Pawling finished in 33rd place (18:27), Hudson Wilvers was 38th and Jeff Koeck was 54th to round out the Viking scoring.
“Jeff never really had a bad race all season,” Westlake said. “Hudson also worked hard all season, but injuries really hampered him quite a bit.”
Despite not repeating as 4A state champs, Westlake is pleased with his team’s performance and sees a bright future, only losing two runners to graduation.
“We had a great season,” the coach said. “It’s hard to win it once, but we knew it was going to be tougher to repeat.
“We’ll put it back together and make another run next year.”
Bluethman’s squad is poised to improve upon their second-place finish as well.
“We going to win it next year,” Bluethman said. “This year’s finish was possible because of a lot of help from Dominique.
“He’d always help me out when I had questions and such.”
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