Vikings qualify for national championships
By Penny Sparks
Special to the Tribune
BOULDER CITY – With perennial rival Reno High expected to repeat their state cross country championship performances from 2002 and 2003, South Tahoe High School girls cross country coach Dan Wilvers had reason to whoop and holler after his girls dominated the NIAA 4A Nevada State Cross Country Championships.
On a picture-perfect day at Boulder City’s Veteran’s Memorial Park on Saturday both teams came ready to do battle. But halfway into the 5 kilometer course, the South Tahoe harriers had control and sealed the victory in the last half of the race despite the record-breaking performance of Reno sophomore Mel Lawrence.
South Tahoe’s Kelsey McClurg led the charge for the Vikings from the starting line until near the finish when teammate Kimmy Arroues passed her. South Tahoe had four girls finish in the top 10 – Arroues, fourth in 19 minutes, 53.5 seconds; McClurg, fifth in 19:58.3; Kate Lambdin sixth in 20:06.0; and Jordan Dalton eighth in 20:18.5. The Vikings’ fifth runner and final point scorer, Megan Hillyard, finished 13th in 20:35.0. Anna Lambdin and Ellen Gallanty came in 25th and 44th to complete the seven-member team.
After losing to Reno last week at the regional championships, the Vikings were determined to prove they were the best.
“I told the girls after the last race that they needed to come to this meet with a different mentality than last week. That I wasn’t asking them to win, but I was demanding them to compete, and they competed and that took care of the win,” Wilvers said. “They really put the hammer down today – Wow! They ran great at Stanford and Clovis where they took down national-ranked teams, but today they ran even better. These girls are awesome!”
Although the high school cross country season is now behind them, the Viking girls are facing their toughest challenge yet. The top 20 boys and top twenty girls teams from across the country have been invited to compete in a national meet sponsored by Nike in Portland. On Dec. 4, the Vikings will line up against the best teams in United States in a battle for the first-ever national high school cross country team championship, determined to bring national recognition to South Tahoe.
The flood of yellow Viking uniforms in the front of the pack at the halfway mark made it obvious who would take home the team championship and the only unanswered question was which team would claim the runner-up prize. Reno had to fight hard to fend off Palo Verde of Las Vegas for the second-place trophy.
The lone senior on the Viking squad, Anna Lambdin, finished her high school running career with the biggest win of the season.
“It was so exciting. It is so great,” Lambdin said. “We owe so much to our coaches. This year was a totally different year than last year. Coach Wilvers brought our program up to a whole new level – harder workouts, more mileage – it was a great, great experience to run for a team and coaches like this.”
The South Tahoe boys team finished third in their 4A competition. Though the Viking boys didn’t bring home any trophies, they brought home a whole lot of pride for their accomplishments this season. The team was not even expected to qualify for the state meet, but last week’s second-place finish at the regional meet gave the team a berth at the at the championships.
Viking freshman Patrick Reilly led the race for the first mile but faded to 21st, finishing the course in 18:03.9. Seniors Alex Sharp and Bryan Kurek paced the Vikings across the finish line in the seventh and 10th positions.
Sharp clocked 17:05.9 over the 5K course and Kurek finished in 17:20.8. Teammates Steven Grant placed 17th in 17:47.9 and Jack Williams 38th in 18:28.5. Kyle Conroy and Dylan Perucci also competed for the Vikings.
Viking boys coach Dom Westlake continued South Tahoe’s tradition of strong cross country competition.
“My old high school coach Jim Jones started a great tradition at South Tahoe high and it is important to me to keep it going and I think we did today,” Westlake said. “I couldn’t be any prouder of my boys today had we won. We did what nobody thought we would do and we did it overcoming a lot of adversity.”
New to South Tahoe’s cross county program this year is coach Nancy Dalton. Dalton credits Wilvers and Westlake for their dedication to the program.
“I believe this team did what it did today because these kids know the coaches are there for them, not for themselves, and that the coaches believe in them, and that has made this team strive to be the very best they could be,” she said.