SPARKS — When she mapped out the qualifying times, Centennial coach Kisha Finch figured her team had a good chance to win Saturday’s Class 4A girls state cross country championship at the Shadow Mountain Sports Complex.
But she also knew things rarely turn out the way the numbers lay out on paper.
With four runners finishing in the top 17 individually, Centennial won its third state championship in the last four years, even if the runners didn’t finish in the order they might have expected.
“The depth of our team has been what’s our key success point, and them really challenging each other and stepping up,” Finch said.
Kloe Littleman finished ninth, McKenzie Morgan 13th, Alexis Gourrier 14th and Josephine Ruggieri 17th to lead Centennial to the team title with 53 points. Damonte Ranch was second with 70 and Coronado third with 90.
The top Southern runner was Claire Rawlins of Coronado in fourth place with a time of 20:23.
While other Southern runners seemed to struggle with the altitude or the cool weather, Rawlins beat her regional time by 22 seconds.
“I don’t know (how), it’s a miracle,” Rawlins said. “I think just adrenaline.”
In the Class 3A race, Spring Creek had all five runners place in the top 14 to claim the team championship with 34 points, with Truckee second at 59 and Elko third with 77. Desert Pines was fourth at 116 and Tech came in fifth with 131 points.
Carissa Buccholz of South Tahoe was the champion with a time of 19:52, beating runner-up Jazmin Felix of Desert Pines by 11 seconds.
Felix ran 36 seconds faster than her regional time, but more than a minute off her personal best, and said she misjudged the course and started too fast.
In the Class 2A race, four-time regional champion Ellen Hirsberg of The Meadows broke through to win her first individual championship, the lone Southern individual titlist.
At full strength, Green Valley’s Milton Amezcua might have been the runner to beat in Saturday’s Class 4A boys state cross country championship race at the Shadow Mountain Sports Complex.
As it was, he was the best runner in the state outside of Spanish Springs.
Spanish Springs runners claimed the first three individual places and easily won the team championship with 53 points, with Arbor View second at 89.
Amezcua was the top Southern finisher, in fourth place with a time of 17:15, despite suffering the effects of a car accident. The car he and his mother were in was rear-ended at the intersection of Warm Springs Road and Stephanie Street on Thursday.
“I just felt really dizzy and my back hurt a lot, but I just had to push through,” Amezcua said. “No excuses, though, I ran a good race, they ran extremely well.”
Individual champion William Fallini-Haas led Spring Creek with a time of 16:39 — 42 seconds in front of runner-up Montana Montgomery of Truckee.
Defending state champion Bryce Odegard of Pahrump Valley came in third with a time of 17:38.
“I won last year so I wanted to repeat, but Will ran really well,” Odegard said. “I knew he was going to push it the first couple miles and if I was going to beat him it was going to be toward the end. I just didn’t make it that long and he did a great job getting rid of me.”
The top Southern individual in the Class 2A race was Lake Mead’s Shay Rutledge, who placed third in 17:29, and Ian Cook of The Meadows was fourth in 17:32.