Boys save their best for last
Lane Smith ran a race on Saturday at the NIAA State Cross Country Championships that epitomized this season for the Douglas High boys team.
That is, the senior saved his best for the last half of the 5-kilometer race and helped the Tigers cap off their successful season with a fourth-place finish in the Division I boys team standings. Austin Croxall placed 20th and Smith was close behind in 28th to set the pace as the Douglas boys improved on their fifth-place finish at the 2012 state meet in Boulder City.
“I was happy with my race,” Smith said. “It was a good finish to my high school career. And we were able to improve on our place from last year. We were an under dog group, so it was nice to exceed other people’s expectations, especially considering that before last year, the (Douglas) guys hadn’t been to state in a long time. So it’s nice to go out this way.”
Centennial beat Galena for the title, 39-64, while McQueen took third. Douglas finished with 117 points. Centennial is the first boys team from the South since 1987 to win the state large schools championship.
Croxall ran 17:26, while Smith clocked in at 17:43 and freshman John Munyan 17:45 in 30th to lead a close-knit Douglas pack. Brandon Pankey ran 17:59 to place 38th and Cole Peck 18:10 to place 42nd — a gap of 44 seconds separating the five scoring team members. Douglas coach Jay Frey pointed out the Tigers improved their team time from the regional meet one week before.
“It was a good day,” Frey said. “There’s no question, these boys run with 100 percent heart. When the gun goes off, they go out and give it their best.”
Croxall and Smith both gradually improved their positions through the course of the race.
“I moved up a lot … I don’t know how many runners I passed, I just knew I felt good coming in,” Smith said. “This course, the way it’s set up with the hills, is a great course for the way I run. With about a mile-and-a-half to go, I’m able to turn it on.”
One other highlight from the meet, Frey noted that when combining the team times from both the girls and boys races, Douglas ranked second behind only Centennial.
“That’s a reflection of the hard work the kids put in during the season and going all the way back to the summer,” Frey said.
Sierra Lutheran’s boys placed second in the Division III/IV competition. While North Tahoe turned in a strong performance to win the overall championship, two points separated second-through-fourth places. Sierra Lutheran was led by freshman Ricky McNeely, who ran 18:17 to place sixth. Junior Christopher Eckert also placed in the top ten, taking eighth in 18:28. Jacob Rodriguez placed 22nd in 19:43, Blake Ranalla 27th in 20:12, while Daniel Barulich and Tyler Waite both ran 21:06 to finish 36th and 37th respectively.