Shanna Sparks was back in her familiar position at Friday's Carson Invitational.
The Carson runner came away with a convincing win in the girls cross country race at Fuju Park. Also in their familiar positions in the boys race were Reno's Danny Wolf, Carson's Daryl Nourse and Galena's Chad Sanada.
But not in its familiar spot on top was the Carson girls team, which had to settle for second place this time behind South Tahoe, which beat the Senators by four points (41-45).
"Not surprised," said Carson Coach Jason Macy about losing to South Tahoe. "We knew they would be strong.
"We're not that far off. I think it showed we need to make a strong push for zone."
Macy was commenting on the Northern 4A Zone Championships. "I think we have the talent to win zone," Macy said. "But our girls have got to have a good day."
The competition for a top three finish at zone to qualify for the state meet is also shaping up as a tight race. Reno won the boys race with 25 points while Carson edged out Galena for second (68-69).
South Tahoe, the defending 4A state champion which didn't compete Friday in the boys race, figures to cotend for a top three finish at zone. "It's going to come down to the wire," Macy said.
Sparks did gain a measure of revenge, beating South Tahoe's Amber Ramos, who placed second. Ramos ran one second faster than Sparks at the Stanford Invitational last Saturday.
But Sparks wasn't happy with her time of 19 minutes, 14 seconds on the 3.1-mile course. "It was slow," she said. "I'm not happy with this really at all."
Sparks said her time should be "definitely low 18s." She also said it's hard to run a fast time when not being pushed.
"I think I was just like coasting," said Sparks, who after placing second at state last year has a goal to win the state title this season. "It was O.K. It felt good.
"You don't know how fast you're supposed to go. It feels like you're going fast, but you're going slow."
Nourse wasn't happy, either, with his time of 17:00. "I wanted to beat 17 on this course.," he said. "That's kind of a bummer."
Nourse said he tried to stay with Wolf when they went over the course's hill, but to no avail.
"I knew Danny was going to take it out on the hill," Nourse said. "I tried not to lose him too much."
The rivalry between him and Wolf is a friendly one, Nourse said. "We warm up with each other sometimes," Nourse said. "It's good sportsmanship rather than I beat you in your face kind of thing."
At state, Nourse has a goal to win the title as well. "My goal is to take state, but I've got a large gap to close on Danny before I do that. I'd like to take second at least."
Wolf finished in 16:40 while Chad Sanada finished in 17:08. Other top finishers included:
Tim Koepsell, Galena, 10th, 18:02; Jeffrey Martin, Carson, 11th, 18:06; Joe Bentel, Galena, 12th, 18:17; Andrew Pederson, Carson, 13th, 18:18; Jose Banuelos, Carson, 17th, 18:33.
Top finishers for Carson's girls were: Sarah Shaw, fifth, 21:34; Cassia Roth, 12th, 22:26; Amy Martin, 14th, 22:45; Lindsay Dorio, 15th, 22:54; Megan Zahnter, 16th, 23:00. Julie Hinton placed 13th for Galena.
"I think I was just like coasting. It was O.K. It felt good."