Truckee cross-country | Skyler Flora, girls win back-to-back state titles | SierraSun.com

Truckee cross-country | Skyler Flora, girls win back-to-back state titles

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After narrowly defeating Spring Creek by one point for the Northern Division I-A regional title the previous week, the Truckee girls cross-country team came back to win their second straight state championship by a convincing margin, 21-34, in Las Vegas this past Saturday. 

Not only were the Truckee girls the top team in the Division I-A, they would've finished ahead of all the premier Division I competition as well, including Southern schools nearly five times the size of Truckee High School.

The girls finished their season as the fastest team in the NIAA across all divisions, followed by southern Division I powerhouses Centennial and Palo Verde, in the combined results. Their 21 points was the lowest score of the day registered by any team, across divisions and even gender. 

Leading the charge by securing her second straight individual state championship crown was senior Skyler Flora, who ran the second-fastest girls time of the day on the 5-kilometer Sunset Park course in 18:44.

As was customary throughout the season, senior teammate Gabrielle Rinne finished second, in 19:18, breaking free of Spring Creek's Julia Mahlke midway through the race. Mahlke eventually finished third in 19:41.  

Knowing that the key to winning the championship race lay on the shoulders of runners 3-7, the trio of Truckee sophomore point-scorers did not disappoint. All finished in the top 10. Carrie Bradley was 5th (20:06), followed by Claire Lang Ree in eighth (20:12) and Syra Fillat in 10th (20:34), which yielded the final point-scoring total of 1-2-4-6-8. The spread between the scoring runners was 1:50, the narrowest yet this season. 

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Also impressive were sophomore Julia Veliquette, who placed 28th (22:25), and junior Olivia Yale, who was 30th (22:44).

Spring Creek and Elko (85) finished in second and third place, respectively, followed by Boulder City (116), Faith Lutheran (120) and SECTA (147).

"What amazing group of girls," said Truckee coach Rob McClendon. "They came out and wanted another state championship and they got it. The second state championship was sweeter than the first. Our runners took Nevada cross-country to the next level. We dominated the race in convincing fashion."

The trajectory of the Truckee girls team over the past four years has assumed storybook proportions.

When Flora and Rinne were freshmen in 2011, they made up half the roster of just four girls, one shy of a five-person team. However, both qualified individually for state. In 2012, the girls team tripled in size and dominance, finishing second in both regionals and state. In 2013, the girls team earned its first ever regional and state championship. This year, the girls were the top team in Nevada across all divisions. 

While the Truckee boys did not qualify for state, defending state champion Noah Oberriter qualified as an individual. Oberriter led for much of the race but was overtaken in the final stretch and finished third with a time of 16:47. Faith Lutheran's Chase Wood won the title in 16:37. Elko's Kyler Simpkins was second in 16:43. 

Spring Creek (50), Clark (70) and Elko (83) finished 1-2-3 in the team competition and were followed by Faith Lutheran (86), South Tahoe (106) and SECTA (122).

"Noah ran his last cross-country race giving his all, leading the race all away up to the final meters," McClendon said. "Noah is a pretty special runner and I am looking forward to working with him during track season."

With a young, up-and-coming boys team and a girls team that has proven its dominance beyond its top two senior runners, McClendon is optimistic about the future: "Truckee peaked at the right time it really showed that we will be contenders in the future also."