Who is Northern Nevada’s biggest prep star? | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Who is Northern Nevada’s biggest prep star?

Steve Yingling

Venture a guess on who the most prolific athlete Northern Nevada has to offer right now.

One might think it’s Hug basketball star Armon Johnson? He drew quite a crowd last winter when his Hawks came to South Lake Tahoe, but he’s a close second or third.

Luke Babbitt, you say? Not quite, although the Reno-Gazette Journal featured the Galena basketball star in Thursday’s paper for narrowing his list of colleges to 10.

How about Whittell volleyball stars Jessica Woods and Kelly Karmann? They should soon be playing at the next level, giving the Warriors their first major college volleyball players since Lauren Maselli (Rhode Island).

If you’re stumped, think of the sport that gets little recognition, and Mel Lawrence of Reno will immediately come to mind. Lawrence has been ripping up cross country courses and tracks from here to China the past four years and she’ll soon be running for one of the top cross country programs in the country. The Reno High senior has narrowed her list of colleges to Colorado, Oregon, Washington State and Arizona State.

Lawrence, who has won the past two state cross country titles and is considered one of the top two high school runners in the country, is enjoying the recruiting process.

“Everybody is just letting me do my thing and not really having any say in it. I go where I want to go and not where I feel pressure to go,” Lawrence said.

We may eventually see Lawrence compete for the United States in the Olympics. We saw a glimpse of how Lawrence stacks up against the rest of the world this summer when she placed 10th in the 3,000-meter steeplechase at the IAAF World Junior Track and Field Championships last month in Beijing.

Lawrence receives little fanfare as a long-distance runner because she competes in a sport that doesn’t use a ball of any kind. But the local running community won’t miss a chance to see her compete for the final time in South Lake Tahoe on Friday at the Retro Relays. The meet begins at 3 p.m.

Vikes nearly stayed a start

South Tahoe High cross country coach Dan Wilvers considered not racing his girls at Washoe Lake State Park on Wednesday because of what he perceived was an “unsafe” course.

“There were several treacherous and unsafe sections of the course, not to mention far too much single track,” Wilvers said.

The race was an opportunity for the state’s top two girls’ teams to distinguish their programs early in the season and possibly gain the upperhand in regional and national polls.

Several of Wilvers’ runners have been fighting nagging injuries and he has been concerned about having them ready for bigger races.

“I don’t believe Reno was fooled by our effort. They know what we are capable of producing. Stanford will be our first real showdown,” Wilvers said of next weekend’s invitational.

Reno won Wednesday’s meet handily, placing five competitors in the top 10, while the Vikings had five in the top 17.

Reno coach Roland Martin thought the Vikings were still being impacted by competing in the Woodbridge Invitational last Saturday in Irvine.

“Their emotions are high, so it’s hard to come back off of that,” he said.

– Tribune Sports Editor Steve Yingling can be reached at (530) 542-8010 or syingling@tahoedailytribune.com.

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