Viking runners improving as end-of-season championships approach

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — The South Tahoe cross country team has been trudging through the season and they continue to improve led by star runner Carissa Buchholz.

Buchholz, the two-time defending Nevada 3A cross country champion, set a personal best time last week in one of the most challenging events she compete in year-after-year, the 41st annual Asics Clovis Invitational.

Racing against some of the best runners in any division in California, Buchholz finished in 18 minutes, 6 seconds and came in 18th place out 149 runners.

Her time was about 5 seconds faster than the year before when she finished higher in the standings at 14th.

The Viking runners started the season in late August at the UNR Twilight Classic at Mira Loma Park in Reno.

Leyton Sweeney started strong for the boys’ varsity and finished second in the small school race on the 3.9K flat, grassy course.

The varsity girls’ race was lights out, literally.

A few minutes into the last race of the night under the lights, a blown transformer caused the lights to go out.

“As a coach and spectator, I’m thinking that the race is going to be stopped and restarted,” said Vikings head coach Mark Hoefer. “That’s probably a 30-45 minute delay. But an incredible thing happens, spectators all around the course turned on their mobile phones to illuminate the course and the race continued.”

Buchholz started the season like she finished the last, leading start to finish and finishing in a personal best 15:17 for 3,900 meters. She beat a rival from Reno, Penelope Smerdon, by 6 seconds.

South Tahoe’s Eliana Carney finished in 21st in a 64-runner field and Melanie Maher was 44th.

The Vikings also hosted their annual retro races Thursday, Sept. 17, and competitors always have a good time while also facing a challenging run.

“Our course is always a challenge because it is at an elevation above 6,000 feet and then we add a couple of real tough hills and a couple of jumps as well,” Hoefer said. “We also add in relay races in addition to the individual events. And top it off with a costume contest.

“The schools always say they’ll be back next year.”

South Tahoe raced in the 5K Capital Cross Challenge Saturday, Sept. 28.

Buchholz earned eighth place in the seeded race, this time finishing behind Smerdon by a few seconds.

The unseeded varsity boys race got things started early in the morning under overcast skies and perfect temps.

Sweeney led the Vikings through the first mile in 5:16 and went on to place 31st with a personal best time of 16:57.

The rest of the Vikings were led by Matthew Sokulsky finishing in 17:36 (86) and Max Manhe 17:48 (104), Raymond Charley 18:32 (162), Lars Romsos 19:02 (193) and Colton Rindley 22:48 (310).

The Vikings will compete this weekend in the Bella Vista Bronco XC Invitational and have two weeks off before the Nevada Interscholastic Northern Region 3A Championships Saturday, Nov. 2 at Rancho San Rafael Park in Reno.

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