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Douglas girls repeat zone title – but it wasn’t easy

by Dave Price

On paper, the Douglas High girls cross country team repeated its Northern 4A zone meet championship in a breeze Thursday afternoon.

While it may not have been all that easy, the Tigers started fast and never looked back to win their title on a chilly afternoon at Rancho San Rafael Park.

Douglas continued its season-long domination of the North by packing four runners into the top six en route to score 33 points, 48 better than runner-up McQueen. In the process, the Tigers became the meet’s first repeat girls champion since Carson won five straight titles between 1989- and ’93.

The Tigers surged to the front as a unit from the start and stayed there. Just like last year, when they won zone. Unlike 1996, when they were favored coming into the meet and then failed to even crack the top four.

“We remember that,” senior Jenny Smokey said, looking back to the disappointment of two years ago. “We didn’t want to be overconfident. But when we all got up there early, we knew we had it.”

Kelly Mogab ran to second-place with a time of 21 minutes, 2 seconds over the hilly and soggy 5,000-meter layout. Teammate Annie Gastelum was closed behind in third (21:08), Kathleen McSweeney fourth (21:19) and Smokey sixth (21:34) as Douglas scored 33 points – 48 ahead of runner-up McQueen.

The victory was not an easy one, according to coach Ellen Lucas.

“They ran pretty awesome. I think they ran harder, mentally, than they have before,” Lucas said. “It wasn’t easy. Kathleen has been sick and Jenny wasn’t feeling well today, and there were some points in the race when they were struggling to be where they were, but they dug down and kept going.”

McSweeney, the Tigers’ established leader, has been slowed for much of October due to a sore ankle and a bout with bronchitis. Smokey felt she had an off day, though that didn’t take away from the team victory.

“It was so cold and muddy, it was hard out there today,” Smokey said. “But we’re so excited as a team. Everybody stepped it up … we ran our hardest.”

Jenelle Timmons finished 18th to round out the team scoring and give Douglas a spread of 1 minute, 28 seconds between the top five.

“Jenelle keeps getting stronger,” Lucas said. “She’s a key for us. She’s gone from being three minutes behind (her four teammates) to being 30 seconds back. She’s got the lead pack in sight now.”

That’s a key for the Tigers in their bid to win the school’s first state cross country team title. They finished second behind Cheyenne at last year’s state meet.

Even though Douglas beat Cheyenne at the Indian Springs Invitational earlier this season, there will be another challenge to overcome at state.

“I’ve heard some scary things about Green Valley, but our girls have worked hard. They’re ready to go down and challenge anyone.”

Douglas had one state qualifier in the boys race when senior Jayson Scheetz took seventh in 18:14. Carson’s Evan Fischer won the race in 17:36.

The Douglas boys finished seventh as a team with 166 points, but coach Brian Buscay was elated with the performance.

“Overall, the guys ran well. We ran a meet here a couple of weeks ago and some of these guys ran two minutes faster today – under worse conditions,” Buscay said.

Freshman Darren Muren was the Tigers’ No. 2 finisher in 33rd (18:59), while Bryan Sullivan finished 38th (19:05), Jared Petersen 42nd (19:17) and Collin Muren 46th (19:24).

CUTLINE

Annie Gastelum (right) and Jenny Smokey finished third and sixth respectively at the Northern 4A zone cross country championships Thursday afternoon at Rancho San Rafael Park in Reno.

The Record-Courier E-mail: rc@tahoe.com

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