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Vikings smoke foes on home course

Steve Yingling

Runners were bent over and breathing hard following a demanding 3-mile high school cross country test Wednesday at South Tahoe High School. But at least their lungs were spared the dense smoke from a controlled burn that eerily turned nearby Meyers into Los Angeles for a day.

The only smoke at STHS came off the shoes of Launa Giordano, Marin St. Michel and Manuel Lomeli.

Giordano, a senior, held off freshman teammate St. Michel to win the girls 3-mile race with a time of 20 minutes, 24 seconds. St. Michel was a second behind at 20:25. The teammates were first and second the whole way.

“I just wanted to get away from the Sparks girl who was behind us. Whether we got first or second it didn’t matter, it would still be the same amount of points for us,” St. Michel said.

First-year Viking girls coach Kathy Breidenbach expected her two girls to duel for first because they had a decided edge over the Reno and Sparks competitors.

“Every runner on their home turf has that comfort zone. Those two girls especially knew that they were in their area and they were going to show everyone that this is their spot,” Breidenbach said.

With four additional Vikings cracking the top 10 as South Tahoe won the three-way meet with 26 points. Reno was second with 43 and Sparks third at 86.

“We’ve been talking about getting in a pack and encouraging each other,” Breidenbach said. “They’re starting to realize individually that they’re good, but as a team they’re better.”

STHS’s Cecilia Cuevas was sixth in 21:32, followed by Lisa Orr, eighth, 22:24; Danielle Perucci, ninth, 22:28; and Jennifer Carrell, 10th, 22:29.

The Vikings took advantage of a mile longer course and the mentally tough hills that they train on daily.

“It’s good for us because we know the other competitors aren’t used to it and we can get ahead,” Giordano said.

Lomeli held back in third place until the final mile when he overtook Sparks’ Ankur Shukla after the 600-meter “Humongous Hill” on the course’s descent to the football field. During a final climb to the school’s softball field, Lomeli widened his lead and finished with a nine-second victory – 16:41 to 16:50.

“That’s where I decided to make move instead of just hanging around with the guy. I wanted to run by him, so it would make him think, “Whoa, who was that guy?” Lomeli said.

Reno’s Mark Anderson, who beat Lomeli at the league’s last stop in Elko, finished a distant third at 17:02. But the Huskies edged the Vikings in team scoring, 29 to 36. Sparks was third with 98 points.

“I really wanted our guys to focus on this race today,” said Viking boys coach Dominique Westlake. “We just needed our guys to mix in with their guys. Everyone has a job to do. They’ve written it down and I told them to pin it on their bedroom wall, refrigerator or even their bathroom wall. It lets them know where they’re supposed to be with their guy and pretty much everyone did that today.”

Bolstering the Vikings’ overall score were Cory Martin, sixth, 17:07; Jeff Cosmi, eighth, 17:13; Russell Grant, ninth, 17:27; and Grant Carter, 12th, 17:45. Also for STHS, Travis Moore was 16th, 18:25; Steven Moore, 18th, 18:38; Jeff Koeck, 20th, 18:51; Lukas Pakes, 22nd, 19:09; Ryan Gleason, 25th, 19:30; and Corey Buckley, 30th, 20:46.

Other Viking girls results included: Dawn Hock, 11th, 22:32; Iris Ott, 14th, 23:01; Alicia Son, 16th, 23:18; Erika Larson, 17th, 23:39; Shayna Gianelli, 18th, 23:45; Lauren St. Pierre, 19th, 24:18; Rachel Romero, 22nd, 25:16; Tiffany Good, 25th, 26:07; and Martha Chavez, 27th, 26:25.

Tahoe Daily Tribune E-mail: tribune@tahoe.com

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