Freshmen keep THS Nordic alive in championships
In most high school sports, the freshmen are at the butt of a lot of jokes and harassment. They aren’t expected to contribute much. But on Saturday in the California/Nevada Nordic state championships at the Auburn Ski Club, THS’ freshmen Maisha Goodpaster on the girls’ varsity squad and Matt Gelso on the boys’ varsity proved convention wrong as they took first places in their respective categories.
“I was not expecting that at all,” Gelso said in the lodge after the race. “I was expecting fourth, but people say expect the unexpected.”
Talk about timing. The wins were the firsts of the season for both Goodpaster and Gelso.
“I was really surprised,” Goodpaster said. “I thought I definitely can’t keep this up but when the times came through, I was like, ‘yes!’
“They’re two ninth graders that have always been up there in second, third or fourth place,” Gordon said. “The fact that they were able to get out there and place first is just incredible.”
Varsity girls won with 189 points, followed by North Tahoe’s 161 and Mammoth’s 150.
Varsity Boys led with 187 points, North Tahoe was second with 152, South Lake Tahoe was third with 144 and Mammoth was fourth with 141.
Jayvee girls took first with 188 points, North Tahoe was second with 178 and Colfax was third with 121.
North Tahoe stole the jayvee boys’ show with 191 points, followed by Truckee at 179 and Mammoth was third at 131.
In total, Truckee won 22 individual medals, three first place trophies and one-second-place trophy.
“It feels great,” Nordic coach Nancy Gordon said. “The varsity (wins) give us the right to call ourselves big champions.”
Goodpaster had been finishing consistently right behind favorites teammate Kara LaPoint and Marin Catholic’s Natalie Joffe. Goodpaster surprised everyone and beat Joffe, who finished second, by more than 12 seconds at 27:18.9. Joffe finished at 27:31.1.
Despite the seemingly drama-less-team win, there was a lot for LaPoint. The races were in timed form, meaning two racers started every thirty seconds to space them out on the narrow course. When LaPoint rounded the final turn on her third and final lap and was coming into the home stretch, she stayed on the course instead of exiting toward the finish line. After a great deal of shouting from the crowd, she looked up to see the finish gate- on the other side of a fence on her right. She stopped, turned around and made it around the gate and finished third overall.
“She just didn’t think about the finish,” Gordon said. “Usually it happens to really intense racers only once.
“She was just gunning for Natalie (Joffe).”
Gordon estimated LaPoint lost around 30 precious seconds, not enough to beat out Goodpaster, but it would have been enough to beat her rival in Joffe.
“She still wouldn’t have finished first,” Gordon said. “But she would have (beat Joffe).”
The two were exchanging first place finishes all throughout the season, Joffe taking three first places and LaPoint taking three herself.
But one problem for LaPoint was that in two of her first place finishes: Joffe wasn’t even there. In head to head competition, Joffe got the better of LaPoint, taking first in three of four matches between the two.
The rivalry can continue next year because both of them are juniors. LaPoint finished at 27:54.9. North Tahoe’s Jenna Harlow stole fourth at 29:03.4.
The rest of the top 10 was dominated by Truckee, as usual. Lindsay Collin took fifth at 29:49.9, Kati Clark was sixth at 31:00.0, Sugar Bowl Academy’s Sara Violett took eighth at 31:32.4, Whitney Prosor was ninth at 31:48.8 and Mammoth’s Cindy Apodaca took 10th at 31:50.6.
Kayla Evans took 11th at 32:39.6 and Caitlin Oats took 13th at 34:40.9 to round up the Truckee roster.
For the varsity boys, it was just another day of competition and dominance. Gelso beat out North Tahoe’s Dominic Henriques by 1.5 seconds: his time of 23:51.0 to the Laker speedster’s 23:52.5. Sugar Bowl Academy’s Phillip Violett was third at 23:55.8, THS’ Joaquin Goodpaster was fourth at 24:14.2, Andrew Van Blarigan, fighting a cold, was fifth at 24:52.5, Patrick Lane of Nevada Union was sixth at 26:21.6, Truckee’s Owen Wright was seventh at 27:36.7, Martin Benes of Marin Academy was eighth at 27:51.4, Davis Taylor of Mammoth was ninth at 28:44.0 and Truckee’s Thomas Hill rounded up the top 10 at 29:08.4.
For the rest of Truckee, Sam Sterling was 15th at 30:11.1, Doug Coombs was 19th at 31:03.3 and Robbie Beno was 25th at 34:52.9.
The jayvee girls’ squad had a tighter 5k race, but won nonetheless.
Jenny Van Blarigan blew out of the gates, taking first at 21:52, 1:42.1 ahead of teammate and second place finisher Katy Jones at 23:34.1. Third place went to Jessica Hooper at 24:15.4.
Then the competition cut in. Janell Webb of Colfax took fourth at 24:27.5, and North Took fifth through eighth: Denea Granger was the Lakers’ best at 24:41, followed by Judy Dietz at 24:42.2, Tracy Pulliam at 25:07.8 and Megan Caulkett at 225:27.6.
Nevada Union’s Dorienne Dunning was ninth at 26:05.4 and Truckee’s Sarah Heckendorn rounded the top 10 at 26:41.2.
For the rest of the Wolverines, Jamie Evan’s was 13th at 28:51.5, Ashley Greenwood was 14th at 29:12.8, Kristin Deeter was 15th at 29:23.3 and Holly Rudolph was 20th at 36:38.1.
For the jayvee boys, they didn’t have enough speed to outdo their rivals up the river, but they did manage a second place finish.
North Tahoe’s Nick Bozzio took first at 17:54.6, Truckee’s Ben Kantz was second at 18:49.6, North Tahoe’s Derek Ganong was third at 18:55.8, followed by teammates Bryan Alders in fourth at 19:47.6 and Erik Reinstra in fifth at 20:00.3. Truckee’s Ben Van Blarigan pulled off a sixth at 20:15.9, followed by North Tahoe’s Wayne Smith in seventh at 20:32.9, Truckee’s Tyler Wright and Gordon Neelands were eighth at 20:39.4 and ninth at 20:54.7, respectively. Mammoth’s Paul Escallier was 10th at 21:00.1.
For the rest of Truckee, Greg Beno finished 14th at 21:39.3, Sean Powers was 20th at 23:14.3, Blake Heckendorn was 32nd at 25:33.2, Conrad Thompson was 41st at 28:31.8, Alex Williams was 43rd at 28:56.4 and Josh Casey was 46th at 30:46.
For season team scores, Truckee varsity boys’ won with 939 points, North Tahoe was second with 834 and Mammoth was third with 745.5.
Truckee Varsity girls won with 948.5 points, North Tahoe was second with 774.5 and Mammoth was third with 767.
The jayvee girls won with 943 team points, followed by North Tahoe in second with 906 and Nevada Union was third with 737.
The jayvee boys’ 1,104.5 points weren’t strong enough to beat North Tahoe’s 1,135.5 points. They took second and Mammoth took third with 959.
To get the individual season score, you combine the racer’s five best finishes, Truckee girls’ varsity had six medals.
LaPoint took first, Goodpaster took second, Collin was fourth, Clark was sixth, Prosor was seventh and Evans was eighth.
The varsity boys faired just as well. Goodpaster took second, Andrew Van Blarigan was third, Gelso was fourth, Wright was fifth, Sterling was seventh and Coombs was 15th.
Jayvee girls won five medals. Hooper took first, Jones was second, Heckendorn was eighth, Evans was 12th and Jenny Van Blarigan was 13th.
Jayvee boys took five medals as well. Kantz was 4th, Neelands was seventh, Myers was eighth, Beno was ninth and Walker was 10th.
In the middle school races, Sierra Mountain had the biggest turnout. Of the 38 girl racers, 19 were from the Truckee school. On the boys’ side, it was 19 Truckee boys of 42 total.
Sarah Clark took second at 15:38.7, Dayna Stimson took third at 16:39.1, Rachel Waller took sixth at 17:13.9 and Bernie Nelson took ninth at 18:15.6 to round up Sierra Mountain’s top 10.
In 16th, Kaitie Zusy finished at 20:10.6, at 20th was Kelsey Dionat 20:46.6, in 21st was Brittney White at 21:07.8, in 23rd was Kelsey Wood at 21:12.4, in 24th was Gina Krauss at 21:13.1, in 27th was Nicole Zissimos at 22:05.2, in 28th was Hanna Zusy at 23:42.8, in 29th was Rita Van Briesen at 23:55.3, in 30th was Megan Colin at 23:56.4, in 31st Meghan Oats at 23:57.7, in 32nd was Arienne Revai at 24:03.7, in 33rd was Emily Stewart at 24:42.3, in 34th was Madelynn Johnston at 24:47.2, in 35th was Megan Licciardo at 25:29.2, in 36th was Diana Waite at 27:03.9 and in 37th was Meg Toombs at 27:32.1.
On the boys’ side, the dominance by sheer numbers was just as evident.
Sierra Mountain’s Alex Taylor took first at 13:14.8, followed by Spencer Wood in second at 14:32.9 and Daniel Gelso in third at 15:34.9. Next up in 11th was Jordan Nadell at 17:54.4, in 12th was Craig Cuffney at 18:02.5, in 13th was Ben Aldridge at 18:08.2, in 17th was Adam Wright at 18:31.8 , in 19th was Andrew Pado at 19:21.4, in 21st was Max Van Briesen at 19:40.8, in 24th was Damon LuVisi at 19:52.3, in 26th was Stefan Benier at 19:59.9, in 30th was Duncan Lowder at 20:40.5, in 32nd was Matt Hardy at 20:59.2, in 34th was Brenden Driscoll at 21:32.9, in 36th was Brian Coombs at 22:25.3, in 37th was Alexander Rae at 24:24.0, in 38th was Cian Sullivan at 25:03.1, in 39th was Erik Greenwood at 25:19.5 and in 40th was Garrett Thompson at 25:24.1.