Lakers to host 30 cross country teams |

Lakers to host 30 cross country teams

Emma Garrard/Sierra SunNorth Tahoe cross country runners Nicole Ramm and Tom McElravey jog across the softball field after practice Wednesday. The Lakers are set to host 30 schools in the Norht Tahoe/Kiwanis Invitational on Friday.

Juggling head coaching and classroom duties with organizing a 30-school cross country meet is no easy task, even for the seasoned Warren Mills.

“It’s almost getting to the point where it’s scaring me, because I’m going crazy,” said Mills, North Tahoe’s longtime coach of cross country and track and field.

Spearheading the annual North Tahoe/Kiwanis Invitational is nothing new for Mills, who estimates that this year will mark the 33rd running of the event. But never before has the meet been so beefed up with competition, the coach said, adding that last year the Lakers hosted 22 schools.

On Thursday Mills was still scrapping to get everything in order as team rosters continued to stream in from schools from as far away as Fresno, Calif.

Cross country programs set to compete include Central of Fresno, Atwater, Pacific Grove, Lassen, Bret Harte and Mammoth ” all from California ” as well as Nevada schools Elko, North Valleys, Manogue, Damonte Ranch and Virginia City, to name a handful. Truckee and Incline will also race.

Mills said part of the appeal for many coaches is the fact that the meet features races for freshmen and sophomores in addition to varsity.

“The small schools like that we have freshmen and sophomore races,” said Mills, explaining that the meet’s popularity has grown over the years by word of mouth.

Because Saturday’s Nevada Union (Calif.) Invitational attracts most of the top-tier Reno schools, Mills said he tries to draw the small- to middle-size schools instead.

All are sure to be challenged by the Lakers’ home course, which starts on the football field and sends runners into the forest on a 3-plus-mile loop past the “black tower” before spitting them out on the softball field. Mills said it’s the third-toughest course on the Lakers’ schedule.

“It’s a hard course. It’s a little easier than Mt. SAC and Bret Harte, but that’s about it,” Mills said. “Our warm-up is tougher than other people’s courses.”

North Tahoe senior Tom McElravey agreed, describing it simply as “up.” On a difficulty scale from 1 to 10, McElravey rated the North Tahoe course as an 8.

As far as his North Tahoe team, the senior likes the odds of the Lakers ” both boys and girls ” bringing home Nevada 2A state titles from Boulder City on Nov. 8.

“This year’s team is pretty solid,” McElravey said. “I think we have a pretty good chance at winning state.”

Junior teammate Nicole Ramm is even more confident.

“Definitely as a team we’re going to win state. I already decided,” she said, describing the group of 24 runners as “the tightest team ever.”

Tight-knit or not, Mills said he doesn’t expect the Lakers to reach peak form until the state meet, as he trains his runners to gradually gain speed and endurance week by week. And this is only the second week of competition, with the North Tahoe boys and girls squads coming off wins in the season-opening Whittell Invitational on Sept. 5.

“We’re still just getting there,” he said. “We won’t do anything spectacular (today). It’s all about the end” of the season.

McElravey trusts his coach’s philosophy.

“He’s the best coach I’ve ever had,” he said. “He knows what he’s doing ” knows when to put on the miles and when to not put on the miles.”

Frosh boys: 3 p.m.

Frosh girls/soph. girls: 3:30 p.m.

Soph. boys: 4 p.m.

Varsity girls: 4:30 p.m.

Varsity boys: 5 p.m.

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