Cougars’ depth proves decisive

Sydney Badger and Centennial’s girls cross country team were considered clear favorites heading into Saturday’s Division I state cross country meet.

Neither won a title.

Instead, Coronado’s girls displayed their depth, finishing with 66 points to top Centennial (76) for the team title at Veterans Memorial Park in Boulder City. Sara Dort finished third individually to lead the Cougars.

“We packed up well. We got a great race out of the girls today,” Coronado coach Mark Tondryk said. “Obviously, (Sara) Dort ran off. Kristin Morrill bounced back from last week. Logan (Lucas) gutted it out for (our) third. Emma (Czerwinski), who has been kind of down this year, our sixth girl, getting in front of their fifth was huge for us. Top to bottom we ran about as well as we can.”

Badger led from the start, blasting through the first mile in 5 minutes, 35 seconds. But it was obvious something was wrong as the race progressed into the third mile.

Her teammate Katie Gorczyca was only 12 seconds back and closing. Gorczyca, the 2010 state champion over the same 3.1-mile course, passed Badger with a quarter-mile to go and won going away in a time of 19:04.7.

Meanwhile, Badger collapsed less than five meters from the finish line, was passed by two runners, and crawled across the line to finish fourth.

While this drama was being played out, Coronado ran to the championship. Even if the Centennial duo of Badger and Gorczyca had finished first and second, the Cougars would not have been denied. Centennial’s fifth runner finished 42nd for scoring, while Coronado’s fifth runner was 26th.

Morrill finished eighth and Lucas 10th for the Cougars.

“I feel so happy right now,” Gorczyca said. “I felt really strong, and when I passed (Badger) I could tell her breathing was off. I kept her in my sights the entire race. That was my goal, and it really worked out well.

“All season Sydney has been good to me, coaching me, training with me. I want to thank her for everything. Without her I could never have done it.”

It was a frustrating day for Centennial coach Roy Session.

“We knew going in we had problems,” Session said. “One of our runners (Shelby Gibbons) is going in for surgery next week and several of our other girls were not healthy. I don’t know what Sydney’s problem was; she doesn’t want to talk about it, but dehydration? Yes.”

Palo Verde’s Marissa Suan was second in 19:58.4 followed by Dort (20:12.9), Badger (20:25.1) and Galena’s Sara Hanneman (20:30.6).

Elko won the Division I-A race (41 points), with Truckee (53) and South Tahoe (77) second and third.

The I-A individual title came down to a dual between Elko’s Shelbie Dorsa and Incline’s Skyler Flora. The two northern runners ran together almost the entire race until Dorsa (19:36.9) pulled away in the last half-mile. Flora (19:50.0) was second, followed by Sunrise Mountain’s Ebonique Diaz (20:21.0), Spring Creek’s Makenzie Whimple (20:35.5) and Boulder City’s Jessica Tobler (20:42.3).

Incline and North Tahoe dominated the Division III race. In team scoring, it was Incline (32), North Tahoe (58) and The Meadows (86). The individual winner was North Tahoe’s Tara Gallant with a time of 21:04.

Rounding out the top five were Incline’s Stephanie Homola (21:20.8), The Meadows’ Jeneke Heerema (21:28.3), Incline’s Hannah Laurie (21:54.1) and North Tahoe’s Sophia Tallarigo (21:55.4).

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