By GABRIELLE SHIOZAWA
Moapa Valley Progress
The stakes were high, the weather was cold, the air was thin, and the odds were against them.
It was the 2017 Cross Country State Championship, and, despite the circumstances, the Moapa Valley High School runners were ready to take on the challenge.
The competition was held on Saturday at Shadow Mountain Park in Sparks, Nevada. The repetitive course on which the 5Kraces took place sent athletes around the base of a large hill, across several baseball fields, and around a track.
In the boys’ race, Spring Creek’s William Fallini-Haas took first place with his time of 16:39, edging out the 2016 state champion, Pahrump Valley’s Bryce Odegard, by 59 seconds.
Preston Humes led the Pirates with an 18:29 finish, taking 15th place. Nathaniel Thompson completed the course at 19:12, placing 33rd. Jerrick Stastny and Bryton Dorsey ran close together, placing 37th at 19:18 and 38th at 19:20, respectively. Not far behind was Samuel Jolley, who placed 43rd with his time of 19:39. After Nathan Waite placed 53rd at 20:18, Zachary Anderson finished off the race at 21:21.
Last year, our Pirate athletes placed seventh overall with a score of 182, falling 34 points behind Cheyenne. This year, the boys took seventh place again, but with an improved score of 138; only eight points away from beating Cheyenne. Spring Creek, Elko, and SECTA took the top three spots in the competition with respective scores of 43, 48, and 103.
“It was really hard, probably the hardest race of the season, physically and mentally,” remarked sophomore athlete Samuel Jolley. “We may not have performed as well as we should have, but I think we took away a win. The whole team learned today how hard the sport can be.”
In the girls’ race, South Tahoe’s Carissa Buchholz took first place with her time of 19:52. McKinley Bledsoe represented Moapa Valley with a 23:21 finish, a personal record for the Pirate athlete. She placed 33rd in the event.
“It was a tough course, but I managed to run through it,” commented Bledsoe, a freshman. “I’m feeling good about it!”
Also competing was Andrea Mogren, an exchange student at MVHS. Mogren passed out during the competition due to altitude sickness and was not able to complete the race.
“Well, I am disappointed!” said Mogren. “But things happen. I guess I was just unlucky today.”
Through the day’s ups and downs, MVHS Girls’ Coach Heather Humes kept a positive outlook.
“Running teaches you a lot about yourself and a lot about life if you let it,” she said. “This was a weekend where a lot of learning happened. The success we found didn’t look like we wanted it to, but it was there, and we choose to focus on that.
“As a coach,” Humes continued, “I feel privileged to be a part of this weekend with these athletes.”
Reflecting on the state competition as well as the season as a whole, MVHS Boys’ Coach Gary Watkins added, “Regardless of the outcomes, I am pleased to have coached these youths. We have now qualified for state two years in a row, taken girls to state for the first time [since 2011], and won a division championship, which we weren’t supposed to win. It was a great year.”