Patience pays off for Dunkelman
Sean Dunkelman achieved his primary goal when he ran to 14th-place Saturday in the Class 4A boys race at the NIAA State Cross Country Championships in Sparks.
And he made it a point to celebrate that achievement with others. After crossing the finish line, the Douglas High senior exchanged greetings with well-wishers for a brief time before he stepped up on a small set of bleachers and motioned a group of teammates and coaches to join him for a photograph.
“It was good to have all of them here to support me today,” Dunkelman said of the supporters who were on hand to run one last time for Douglas. “It was a good race … a good one to go out on.”
It may not have been his fastest time on the 5,000-meter course at Shadow Mountain Sports Complex and Reed High, however, Dunkelman’s 17:34 effort on a cool and overcast morning was enough to achieve his goal of a top-15 finish. He was the only Douglas runner to qualify for the state meet.
“The plan was to be patient and get a good position the first half of the race and then pick people off in the second half,” Douglas coach Jay Frey said. “He passed five or six guys in probably the last half-mile.”
Dunkelman, who placed eighth at the Northern 4A Region race one week before, was 21st midway through the double-loop race and about 150 meters behind the lead pack.
“I wanted to run stronger in the second half of the race,” Dunkelman said. “When I reached the hill the second time, I started charging from there.”
Spanish Springs swept the top three places in the race, led by Andrew Ribeiro’s 16:52 effort. The Cougars also won their second straight team title, this time by a 53-91 margin over Arbor View (Las Vegas).
Despite not having a team make it to state — the Douglas boys had qualified in each of the last five years — Frey described this as a building season, and a successful season, too.
“We had a really good season; one of the most enjoyable we’ve had,” said Frey, who just completed his 11th season with the Douglas program. “It was a super young group. We had two freshmen, two sophomores, two juniors and a senior on the regional (boys) squad. They’re hungry to learn more and get better and they really work well together. I’m super excited; I’m looking forward to what’s coming.”