BOULDER CITY – Many of the best runners in Nevada reside in the northeast corner of the state.
The factual statement rang true once again Saturday at the Division 3A Nevada State Cross Country Championships, in Boulder City, both Elko County 3A schools bringing home a state title – one for the girls, one for the boys.
The Lady Spartans of Spring Creek blew away the competition, and the Indians of Elko used late pushes to lock down a state crown on the boys side.
Spring Creek simply did what it has done all season long, blow away the field.
While the margin of victory was not as large as some events during the year, the win was still comfortable – the Lady Spartans scoring 28 points – besting second-place Tahoe-Truckee (43) by 15 points.
In the process, Spring Creek qualified for the Nike Cross Southwest Regional, posting the fastest-overall time of any girls team in the state – regardless of division.
South Tahoe junior Carissa Buchholz smoked the field individually – lighting the course of Veterans’ Memorial Park on fire with her feet – setting the fastest time in the entire state and crossing the line in 19:01.9, opening a 49-second gap in front of second place.
The Lady Spartans were led by the race of senior Rylie Lusk, who notched a state runner-up finish with a time of 19:50.9.
She was followed in third place by sophomore-sister Kendra Lusk, who closed with a time of 20:21.9.
Both Lusks earned 1st-Team All-State honors.
Junior Rosemary Little gave Spring Creek its third runner across the line, her 20:59.3 placing eighth, finishing one-spot away from a 1st-Team All-State bid but notching the fastest 2nd-Team All-State finish.
Sophomore Emma Little, who did not participate in the 3A North regional meet due to illness, toughed out a time of 21:19.8 for 12th place – a 2nd-Team All-State position.
Senior teammate Mikkala Perchetti crossed immediately after with a time of 21:20.3 for 13th, giving the Lady Spartans their third 2nd-Team All-State runner – Spring Creek’s top-five athletes each earning All-State recognition.
Two 1st-Team All-State nods, three 2nd-Team All-State athletes – pretty unbelievable.
In 15th place, sophomore Grace Florence ran a 21:25.9 – one position from a 2nd-Team All-State honor – followed by a 21:50.7 by sophomore Emma Campbell for 19th, closing out the Lady Spartans’ roster.
All seven of Spring Creek’s runner’s finished in the top-19.
“The girls team is amazing. They had the fastest-overall time in the state,” said head coach Todd Mahlke. “Emma (Little) wasn’t going to let being sick keep her from running at state, and we had other girls who did not feel well but fought through it and performed very well. We are still pretty young. We’re only graduating two girls and we only have one junior.”
The Lady Spartans will now gear up for the Nike Cross Southwest Regional, which will take place on Saturday, Nov. 17, in Casa Grande, Arizona.
Elko finished fourth in the state, totaling 110 points and falling 14 points shy of a third-place performance behind Moapa Valley (96 points), capping a year in which the Lady Indians began with numerous question marks – including low numbers and crucial losses.
“We started the year and were without seven of our top-10 girls from last season. Things didn’t look real good in June,” said Elko coach Cody Krenka. “For what was supposed to be a rebuilding year, the girls did extremely well to qualify for state and ran fine when they got there.”
The Lady Indians were paced by sophomore Xandry De Arrieta, who closed out the top-20 with a time of 21:56.1.
Sophomore teammate Loulou Neff posted a time of 22:21 for 26th place.
Continuing the runs of young athletes, sophomore Alexis Castor placed 33rd – setting a personal-record time of 23:46 – followed in 34th by sophomore teammate Karen Salazar’s 23:46.3.
“Alexis Castor keeps improving. To set a PR at state is pretty cool,” Krenka said.
Junior Viviana Gavaldon crossed the finish line in 24:02.5 and ranked 36th, junior Marrisa Valdez placing 41st with a time of 24:17.1.
With a time of 25:30.5, junior Karissa Fadenrecht finished Elko’s roster and placed 46th.
“Spring Creek is awesome. Those girls are so good. They are pretty young and should be very tough for a long time,” Krenka said. “It’s always Todd’s and my goal to keep the state trophy in the county, so it was cool to see that happen again. I’m glad they had the fastest-overall time and didn’t get overlooked by the state. Running in the Nike race is a big deal.”
Elko defended its 3A North regional championship by an even-closer margin in the final meet of the season.
At regionals, the Indians held on for a seven-point, 52-59 victory over Spring Creek – the Spartans running their best when it mattered most in the state meet.
Elko found late pushes at crucial stages in the state race – hanging on for a five-point, 54-59 win over the runner-up Spartans.
Senior Alex Klekas ran a strong race and finished as the state runner-up with a time of 16:53.5, trailing only the brilliant run of Valley junior Christian Franklin – who shut down the state championship with a blistering mark of 16:22.2.
“We did our homework. We heard that kid liked to run with the leaders and then sprint at the end,” Krenka said. “Alex did great and made a push on him in the last mile, but that kid started hard and took the lead in the first 300 yards and never looked back. He’s an athletic specimen. He doesn’t really look like a typical runner. He looks more like a Division-I wide receiver; big, broad shoulders and really put together. He ran the fastest race of anyone in the state.”
The Spartans were led by senior George Skivington, who placed seventh with a time of 17:26.2 – joining Klekas as a 1st-Team All-State selection – closing out the 1st-Team honorees.
He was followed by senior teammate Noah Mahlke, who notched a to-10 finish in ninth with a time of 17:53.7, earning a 2nd-Team All-State nod.
While Klekas was the only Elko runner to notch an All-State finish, the proximity of the Indians’ two-through-four runners was key to Elko’s state championship.
Junior Duncan Monroe rounded out the top-15 with a time of 18:13.7, sophomore Sean Klekas took 16th in 18:17.2 and freshman phenom Isaiah Dahl crossed immediately after in 18:17.8 for 17th place.
“Our two, three, four all ran together and that was big,” Krenka said. “Duncan fought an injury all season, Sean did very well and Isaiah is going to be really good. Having them all back next year will be really nice.”
Spring Creek sophomore Secody Charley tallied a time of 18:25.3 for 19th, senior teammate Logan Allen rounding out the top-20 in 18:26.2.
Freshman Van Williams is and will be a huge contributor for the Spartans.
He posted a personal record with a time of 18:35.1 for 24th place.
“Our top-five were about 1:09 apart from one another. That was our best split of the season,” said coach Mahlke. “When we started the year, that number was right around two minutes.”
Things got dicey for the Indians, and sophomore Jimmy Murphy made his most notable strides late – closing in 26th place with a time of 18:42.6.
“Our plan for some of the kids was for them to start out slower and run a conservative pace, but I was nervous at the midway point,” Krenka said. “A mile and a half into the race, three of our boys were in the bottom-four and they had to make a move.”
Move they did.
Beginning their calculated, late-race pushes – perhaps a little later than Krenka would have liked – Murphy passed 26 kids in the final-third of the race, starting the last mile in 52nd place.
Spring Creek sophomore Harrison Walund ran under the weather and still managed to close with a time of 18:48.
“Harrison had some bad headaches last week and didn’t travel down with the team. He did a great job for not feeling his best,” coach Mahlke said.
Senior Jacob Fisher nearly ran a sub-19 race, finishing 37th with a time of 19:01, closing the Spartans’ best effort of the season in the biggest race of the year.
“The boys ran a great race, but we just came up a little short,” Mahlke said. “Cody does a great job with Elko’s program and we always like to see one of us win the state championship and keep it right here, and we have done that for the past seven years I think.”
Elko senior Peter Neff took 39th place with a time of 19:24.6, freshman Philip Neff closing out the Indians’ roster in 19:40.6 for 45th.
“We couldn’t have done it without any member of our team. We have most of them coming back, but it will be tough without Alex and Peter,” Krenka said. “Alex set our program record this year with his 15:55 at the Lowry meet, so that was really cool to see.”
Congratulations to the Lady Spartans of Spring Creek and coach Todd Mahlke on their state championship and qualification to the Nike Cross Southwest Regional, job well-done to coach Cody Krenka and the Elko Indians on their boys state title and kudos to the Spartans on their runner-up finish in the boys division and to everyone who qualified for the Division 3A Nevada State Cross Country Championships.