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Smith’s pace too fast for field

Foothill senior Leah Leedy managed to stick with South Tahoe junior Kelsey Smith for the first mile.

It was the final two miles that proved too fast for Leedy.

Smith set a furious early pace and Leedy was unable to keep up in the Class 4A state girls cross country championships Saturday at Veterans Memorial Park in Boulder City.

Smith repeated as state champion in 18 minutes, 59.88 seconds, comfortably ahead of runner-up Leedy (19:35.69).

“I’m pretty happy, but it would have been nice to win my senior year,” Leedy said. “It started off really fast, and I think that’s what threw me off and made me run slower than usual.”

In the team competition, Galena placed its five runners in the top 18 and scored 51 points to win in its first appearance in the state meet. Coronado was second with 62, led by senior Michaelanne Laurent, who was third in 20:12, and South Tahoe was third with 69.
All five Coronado runners finished in the top 30, with junior Lauren Lucas placing 12th in 20:58.22. The Cougars were trying to become the first Southern Nevada girls team to win the 4A title since Centennial in 2000.

“(Galena’s) five were better than our five,” coach Mark Tondryk said. “Our girls ran as well as they could. I couldn’t ask much more of them.”

Leedy was in the lead pack with Smith and Laurent, and the trio went out in a blazing 5:35 for the first mile. By the 2,000-meter mark, Smith had a five-second lead, and she gradually pushed her edge to more than 30 seconds.

Leedy’s time was 20 seconds slower than when she won the Sunrise Region on the same 3.1-mile course last weekend.

“I thought I could catch up, but it was really hard to recover after that fast first mile,” Leedy said.

Laurent, in fifth place after two miles, finished strong on the downhill portion of the course and passed two runners to take third.

“After the first mile it was ridiculously hard. Everything just hurt,” she said. “I didn’t want to be (responsible for) the one or two points that lost a place for the team, so I pushed on the downhill.”

In the 3A race, Faith Lutheran’s Keely Bakken closed her career by winning handily in 20:57.19. She won the 2A Southern League title as a freshman but battled asthma the next two seasons.

“Being able to overcome it my last year is amazing,” Bakken said. “This is a great way to finish off a season.”

After overcoming early leader Sara Richner of Boulder City, Bakken took a 15-second lead over Spring Creek’s Kristin Rampton and Lowry’s Erin Tattersall. Bakken’s lead swelled to nearly 25 seconds by the two-mile mark.

“I saw (Richner) take off, and I went after her,” Bakken said. “I wanted to get to the front. I didn’t want to get caught up with everybody else.”

Rampton placed second and Tattersall third, helping Lowry to its second straight team title and eighth in the past nine years. Richner was fourth.

In the 1A/2A race, Jessica Gnadt finished seventh to help Laughlin take second, with 53 points, behind repeat champion Sage Creek.

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