Mark Tondryk spent six years as an assistant to Basic’s Larry Burgess, the most celebrated distance coach in Southern Nevada over the past 25 years.
Burgess led his boys cross country teams to five state titles, 15 zone or regional crowns and 21 straight trips to state. Now Tondryk finds his Coronado girls program at the front of the local pack.
"He has a huge impact on what I do, and I was lucky enough to be a part of his program," Tondryk said of Burgess. "I learned from Coach Burgess top-to-bottom consistency, no favorites."
The Cougars have earned a trip to state the past three season, and this could be their year to win a championship.
Coronado was eighth at state in 2006, fourth in 2007 and second last year.
"We are a good team that could be great if everyone works to their potential," Tondryk said.
The talent is there. Although Coronado has only one senior among the six girls returning, it can go 12 runners deep, Tondryk said.
Senior Lauren Lucas, who was 12th at state last year, will lead the Cougars.
Lucas has placed third at the Sunrise Region meet for the past two years, each time in the shadow of teammate Michaelanne Laurent and Foothill’s Leah Leedy.
"I learned a lot from Michaelanne," Lucas said. "She was a great leader. This is a close team; we ran together all summer. We work hard, but we have fun."
Close behind Lucas will be junior Kristal Hosaka, who was 15th at state last year.
Junior Erin Smith was the team’s sixth runner a year ago, but Tondryk calls her his most improved athlete.
"Lauren, Erin and Kristal gives us a good three, and the rest are close," said Tondryk, who added that Smith and Hosaka are the most competitive runners on the team.
Not far behind the top three should be sophomore Samantha Harrison and juniors Ally Ruggles and Shannon Donohue, who all ran at state in 2008.
Tondryk has plenty of additional talent to choose from, including sophomores Kylie Schmidt and Casey Almeido. The team also picked up transfers Sacha Moctezuma (Foothill) and Sami Forsberg (Calvary Chapel).In-depth high school sports coverage
RUNNERS TO WATCH
• Arbor View: Greg Marschik
• Boulder City: Matt Lundgren
• Centennial: Scott Albright, Devon Dane, Billy Gravley, Nick Hartle
• Clark: Jacob Naylor
• Coronado: Austin Parker
• Del Sol: Colin Smith
• Durango: Matt Shelton
• Foothill: Brian Arvizu, Kyle Harris
• Green Valley: Matt Campa-Moreno, Jason Ferraro, Julius Kim, D.J. Padilla-Montello
• Liberty: Al Galan
• Palo Verde: Sebastian Karbowniczek, Andrew Lowman
• Shadow Ridge: Jon Clark, Sam Mahar
• Tech: Dominique Douglas
• Arbor View: Andrea Gonzalez, Taylor Inghram, Kourtney Willey
• Bishop Gorman: Brielle Crovetti
• Canyon Springs: Heather Hollinger
• Cheyenne: Alexa Ayala
• Clark: Elisa Vazquez
• Coronado: Kristal Hosaka, Lauren Lucas
• Eldorado: Claudia Gonzalez
• Foothill: Sage Long, Laura Weedman
• Green Valley: Renee Moser
• Liberty: Joslyn Evans
• Palo Verde: Kelsi Koch
• Shadow Ridge: Megan Castro, Palolo Prince, Mallory Reese, Elaina Vlassopoulos
• Tech: Claudia Perez