So, how does a cross country team prepare for its championship meet? If all goes well for the Carson Senators, a diet of spaghetti and motivational viewing will be a successful formula to run well at the Northern 4A Regional Championships today in Reno.
"The kids are all coming over to my house tonight for a spaghetti dinner and then we're going to watch Chariots of Fire and Prefontaine movies," Carson coach Dennis Brinson said before practice on Wednesday afternoon.
The primary objective for both Carson's girls and boys today at Rancho San Rafael Park will be top-four finishes in the team standings, which will be good enough to earn invitations to the NIAA State Championships next week on the same course.
Though realistic, neither of those goals will be easy to achieve.
"It's a very competitive field so I think you're going to see a real battle out there," Brinson said. "I think it's going to come down to whoever has the best day as a team."
Last year, Carson finished third in the girls race and very likely would have cracked the top five at state, but the Senators never got the chance to find out because only two teams advanced. With the state meet being held in Reno this year, four Northern teams are advancing.
"Our girls have a very good chance," Brinson said. "South Tahoe and Reno are the teams to beat. Then after that, you have Galena, Elko, Douglas and ourselves."
Reno is the defending regional girls champion and South Tahoe is the defending state champion. South Tahoe is now ranked No. 5 in the Nike Team Nationals Southwest Region and finished fourth out of 357 teams and third in the prestigious sweepstakes division at the Mount San Antonio College Invitational last Saturday in Walnut.
The Senators pin their hopes on a pack of runners that includes Christy Works, Gloria Sosa, Annie Brinson, Hannah Riedl, Meagan Myer, Kristin Dockery and Jenny Mital.
Reno will defend its regional boys title against a field of challengers that includes South Tahoe and Galena. The rest of the pack is close behind, according to Brinson.
"Manogue, Elko and us ... we're all very close," the coach said.
Chad Shroy finished 22nd at last year's regional meet and has been Carson's top runner all season.
"Chad should qualify (for state)," Brinson said. "We're hoping to qualify the whole team. They're capable of doing it, but they're all going to have to run well," Brinson said, referring to a group that includes Caleb Carter, Ethan Graber, Rusty Turner, Zack Mapes, Tyler Davies 163rd and Sam Saunders.
Brinson said he is certain of one thing coming into the meet.
"I know they'll run their hearts out," he said. "And then we'll see how the results turn out."
The regional competition begins with the Northern 3A boys race at 2:45 p.m., followed by the 4A boys at 3:20, the 3A girls at 3:55 and the 4A girls at 4:40.
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