The NIAA State Cross Country Championship was historic in both expected and unexpected ways for the Wolverines.
With the girls securing the northern regional championship the previous week, they were favorites to win their first Division I-A state title at Reno’s Rancho San Rafael Regional Park on Saturday. Two-time northern regional champion Skyler Flora, meanwhile, who was undefeated in NIAA competition this season, was the clear favorite to wear the state champion crown.
Mission accomplished on both counts.
What was completely unexpected was Truckee junior Noah Oberriter, who qualified as an individual by taking second place last week at regionals, earning the individual state championship crown on the boys side.
Even more incredible is that in his six seasons of cross-country competition, this was Oberriter’s first-ever victory.
“It was a pretty amazing day for Truckee cross-country running,” Truckee coach Rob McClendon said. “I was so happy for Noah and Skyler, both as juniors winning a state title.”
After building substantial base miles over the summer, Oberriter was plagued by illness and injury through much of the season. Despite these setbacks, he was consistently Truckee’s No. 1 runner in all his races. Finally healthy, he hit his stride over the last two weeks, peaking just in time for regional and state competition.
Oberriter’s winning time on the 5K course was a new personal record (PR) of 16:53 as he fiercely held off a finish-line charge by Elko’s Kyler Simpkins, who finished second in16:54. Fellow individual Truckee qualifier Nick Morgan finished 29th in 19:04.
The Truckee girls did not disappoint. They registered the lowest point total of any girls team across all three divisions, taking home both team and individual state championship honors, as well as the Academic State Championship award, with a collective GPA of 3.92.
Flora led from the start, easily securing her state championship crown with a time of 19:03, which was the second fastest Division I-A course time in history.
Track middle-distance specialist Gabrielle Rinne kept up with Flora through the first half of the race, which included a lightning fast 5:58 first-mile pace. She finished second in 19:45, the fourth fastest DI-A course time in history.
The balance of point-scorers included the superlative performances of three freshmen: Carrie Bradley in sixth with a new PR of 20:44, Claire Lang-Ree in 11th (21:13) and Syra Fillat in 14th with a new PR of 21:21. Right behind Fillat was Amanda Rae in 15th with yet another PR of 21:31. Sophomore Olivia Yale sprinted to the finish, overtaking her all her adjacent competition to place 32nd in 23:05.
While both Truckee and Spring Creek each had four runners in the top 10, Truckee prevailed with a low score of 31 to Spring Creek’s 37. With a total time of 1:42.08, Truckee’s performance was the fastest course time in DI-A history, breaking their own record set last week by nearly a minute.
It was also the second fastest course time in Nevada history among all divisions until Centennial bested them by a mere five seconds in the DI race, thanks to Sydney Badger’s electrifying win in 18:40, relegating Truckee back into third place in the record books.
“I was excited for the first girls state title and looking forward to many more,” said McClendon, a former Truckee coach who returned to the team this season. “When I took this job, I wanted to develop a championship program, and we are now on our way.”
Just two years ago, when Flora and Rinne were both freshmen, there were only four girls running cross country for the Wolverines, not enough to constitute a team for scoring purposes. One year ago, the Truckee girls team more than doubled in size, and finished second to Elko at state. This year, the team tripled in size.
For cross-divisional comparison purposes, the results of all of Saturday’s divisional championship races were combined, representing a hypothetical super race of 21 teams and 175 racers on the girls side. Truckee came in second to DI state champion Arbor View, with a score of 114 to 107. In total time, Truckee was 5 seconds behind Centennial’s 1:42.03, which represents a 1-second difference between the two teams on average time: 20:24 for Centennial and 20:25 for Truckee. Truckee was also the only team to have two scorers in the combined top 10: Flora at 2 and Rinne at 7.
Despite what happens in the future, the young Truckee team — which returns all seven of its top girls — has already established itself as one of the top Nevada cross-country teams in recent history.