Led by an experienced nucleus of runners, the Carson High School cross country program has good reason for optimism for the start of a new season.
Carson’s defending region champion boys have three varsity veterans back and the girls team returns virtually intact entering its season opener at the Douglas Class Races on Friday in Gardnerville. The meet is scheduled for a 3 p.m. start at Lampe Park.
The boys finished strong in 2018 when they won the Northern 4A region title by two points over two-time defending region and state champion Spanish Springs then came back the next week to take third place at the state meet in Boulder City.
Senior Zachary Sever returns as one of the top runners in the North after a successful 2018 season in which he placed third at the region meet and ninth at state. This past spring he captured the region 3,200 title and placed fourth at state (his fastest time was 9:48.34, plus he ran 4:33.67 for 1,600 meters).
Junior Walker MacKenzie and senior Jakob Heller were the team’s fourth and fifth finishers at the region meet last year. Both ran sub-18 minutes for 5,000 meters last year and were place-finishers during the spring track and field season (Heller qualified for state in the triple jump).
Jacob Crossman, a junior, gained some varsity experience and placed sixth at the Northern 4A JV Championships last fall. He ran a 5K best of 18:23, an improvement of more than three minutes from 2017. He also ran a personal best time of 54.36 for 400 meters during the spring track season.
Other returners include senior Gabe Crossman plus juniors Andrew Ingram. Anthony Ramirez a top Cross Country runner as a freshman and JV 2-mile champion is back, training well and improving each practice. Leonard Bucholz from Switzerland and Mikkel Villard from Norway, foreign exchange students add some international interest to the group. Asher Koch a sophomore is overcoming a lot of growing issues and starting to move up within the group. Carson is blessed with a large group of talented freshman and sophomore boys who have been adapting well to the competitive training.
Carson has most of its girls back from a team that finished seventh at the region meet, led by senior Hannah Kaiser, who enjoyed success in 2018 during her first high school cross country season. She placed eighth at the region meet to qualify for state and logged a personal best 5K time of 20:08 at the Stanford Invitational.
Four of the team’s top seven runners last year were freshmen, including Kaitlin Schulze, Claire Cartier, Ginger Cullom. Seniors Hailey Ponzoch and Erin Cartier also return for the Senators. Some of the younger runners, Ava Brem, Julia Kaiser, Sydney Romeo, Samantha Schofield and Lydia Thornley have been training well and getting used to the demands of the work.
Among the key meets on the schedule are the Clovis Invitational at Woodward Park in Fresno on Oct. 12, which annually attracts the top cross country runners from around California, and capped off by the region and state meets on Nov. 2 and Nov. 9 at Rancho San Rafael Park in Reno.