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‘Finally!’: Centennial senior claims elusive title

RENO — Centennial senior Sydney Badger had led two state cross country meets down the stretch, but had failed to win a title.

She changed that Saturday.

Badger broke away from a tight pack near the two-mile mark and cruised to finish the 3.1-mile race in 18 minutes, 40 seconds, to capture the Division I state title at San Rafael Park.

“Finally! It’s off my back,” Badger said. “(The race) was exactly what I wanted. It was one of my smarter races.”

Badger, Lindsey Adams of Douglas and Kyra Hunsberger of Reno were in a tight pack, posting a fast time of 12:24 at the two-mile mark before Badger pulled away. Hunsberger, a freshman, finished second in 18:59, and fast-charging Sara Dort of Coronado was third in 19:13.

Arbor View’s Zanae Jones came on to finish fourth in 19:27, four seconds ahead of Adams.

Jones’ strong finish was key for the Aggies, as they won the team title with 68 points, five ahead of Centennial in the closest team finish of the day.

The Aggies prevailed thanks to a strong finish by the supporting quartet behind Jones of Morgan Anderson, Madison Fletcher, Nicole Snow and Isabella Sakai, who all finished in the top 24. Douglas was third with 87 points.

“It was awesome,” Arbor View coach Tyrel Cooper said. “I’m so excited and proud of these girls. We packed it in. We came out today and showed what we can do.”

Northern teams and individuals prevailed in the Division I-A race. Truckee (31) edged Spring Creek (37) with Elko (54) third and Faith Lutheran (126) fourth. Skyler Flora of Tahoe-Truckee won the individual title in 19:03, followed by teammate Gabrielle Rinne (19:45). Ebonique Diaz (20:18) of Sunrise Mountain was the top local finisher, placing fifth.

The Division III race produced the closest finish of the day. Jeneke Heerema of The Meadows and Quinn Lehmkuhl of North Tahoe turned the corner for home at the top of the hill, 200 meters from the finish line, neck and neck. The two girls crossed the finish line with an identical time of 20:02. It took a photo finish to determine that the freshman from North Tahoe was the winner.

“I still thought I was going to outlast her,” Heerema said. “But I was so tired. I was in a dark place. I felt the pain, and I guess I just didn’t lean.”

Heerema may have lost the battle, but her team won the war. The Mustangs took the team title with 32 points, 12 ahead of North Tahoe.

Bailey Gosse of The Meadows crossed the finish line third (20:34), and all five of The Meadows scorers finished in the top 11.

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