Taking a look back at the Top 10 sports stories of 2012
Like every year in the Truckee-North Lake Tahoe area, 2012 was packed with notable athletic achievements, from high school state championships to impressive endurance running and skiing feats.
While they can’t all be mentioned here, the Sierra Sun compiled some of the most newsworthy stories into its Top 10 Sports Stories of 2012.
1. Truckee football claims four-peat
The Truckee High football team is a news-making machine. The Wolverines entered the season with a three-year, 36-game winning streak, which was among the longest in the nation. And they just kept right on winning in 2012, extending the streak to 41 games – fourth-longest in the country in 11-man football – before rival Fernley snapped it with a 7-0 upset win on Oct. 6. Down but far from out, the Wolverines responded like three-time defending state champs should, winning their next three regular-season games by a combined score of 149-48 to earn the top playoff seed in the Division I-A North. Once in the postseason, Truckee first took care of business by paying back Fernley with a 47-13 win in the opening round. The Wolverines went on to defeat a large, athletic opponent in Cheyenne – a Division I playoff contender in 2011 – by a hard-fought score of 26-18 in the state semifinal. That set up a fifth consecutive state championship date against Moapa Valley, which always provides a formidable challenge. Truckee was up to the task, overcoming a slow start to earn a 34-10 win and claim a fourth consecutive state championship. And that’s not all. The Wolverines also were awarded at halftime with the academic state championship for posting the highest collective GPA of any Division I-A team.
2. North Tahoe cross-country dominates state championship
The world would have had to end to deny the North Tahoe boys cross-country team of a Division III state title in 2012. It didn’t, and the Lakers ran away with a Nevada-record 23rd state championship – all under longtime head coach Warren Mills. But while state titles are nothing new to Mills, as the North Tahoe boys have won 16 over the years and the girls seven, few of the coach’s championship teams dominated like his boys of 2012. After cleaning up at regionals a week prior, the Laker boys decimated their competition at the state meet in Boulder City, recording the second-best score in NIAA history. The Lakers recorded a low team score of just 19 points, which was four away from a perfect score. Every one of the North Tahoe runners stepped up to make it happen. They captured four of the top six spots, including 1-2 finishes by Noah McDermott and Patrick McElravey, and placed all five of their scoring runners in the top eight. McDermott, a junior, crossed the finish line of the 5-kilometer course in a time of 16 minutes, 56.8 seconds to claim the individual title. He won every race he entered from the start of the season. In addition, sophomore Tara Gallant held off Incline freshman Stephanie Homola to earn the individual state title, while the girls were awarded the academic state championship for earning the highest collective GPA in the state.
3. Truckee baseball wins first state title since 1994
The Wolverines did not leave their coaching staff any healthier or younger after their 2012 state championship baseball campaign. But they got the job done nevertheless, and in dramatic fashion. Truckee’s final victory, which closed out a 29-6 season, was perhaps the toughest of them all on their coaches. After entering the 3A (now Division I-A) state championship final on a 15-game win streak, Truckee stumbled to an 8-4 loss to Elko in the double-elimination tourney, setting up a winner-take-all game for the title at Nevada’s Peccole Park. The game remained a tight pitchers’ duel from the start, with Truckee’s state MVP and ace Steven Baker throwing the first four innings, and No. 2 starter Tony Buranzon throwing the last three. Clinging to a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the seventh inning with Buranzon on the hill – with one out and the tying run at second base – a line drive off the bat of an Elko hitter sailed directly into the glove of Truckee second baseman Aaron Pado, who caught it and flipped it to Baker covering second to end the game on a double play. Just like that, the Wolverines were state champs for the first time since 1994.
4. Rory Bosio second in Western States Endurance Run
At 27 years old, Rory Bosio has already earned some well-deserved recognition in the ultrarunning community. The North Tahoe grad and Truckee resident became the fourth-fastest woman ever to run the 100 miles from Squaw Valley to Auburn in a record-breaking Western States Endurance Run this past June. Despite entering with the simple goal of “finishing and having a good time,” Bosio placed second among women and 21st overall in the historic 100-mile foot race, recording a time of 18 hours, 8 minutes and 6 seconds on the unseasonably cool day. That would have been the third-fastest women’s time in event history had it not been for defending champ Ellie Greenwood, who, along with men’s winner Timothy Olson, smashed the previous record en route to her women’s victory in a time of 16:47:19. But Bosio is only getting better, with potentially her best years of ultrarunning ahead of her.
5. Great Ski Race canceled due to low snowpack
The 2011-2012 winter season got off to a slow start, to say the least. In fact, for only the second time in 36 years, the Great Ski Race was canceled due to low snow conditions. It was a heavy blow, as the race, which was scheduled for March 4, serves as the main fundraising event for Tahoe Nordic Search and Rescue (TNSAR), which uses proceeds to purchase equipment and support winter survival and avalanche education programs. TNSAR submitted for grants to help offset the loss, while many of its devout supporters donated money anyway. The Great Ski Race – which remains one of the largest Nordic races west of the Mississippi River, covering 30 kilometers between Tahoe City and Truckee, and featuring as many as 1,000 participants – also was canceled in 1991 due to a lack of snow.
6. North Tahoe alpine ski team wins back-to-back state titles
The North Tahoe alpine ski team trounced its competition for a second consecutive year in the Tahoe Basin Ski League state championships, winning a total of five state titles as a team in the two-day event at Alpine Meadows. Combined with their six titles from the 2011 championships – a clean sweep – the Lakers hoarded 11 of 12 possible state title awards in the past two seasons, a feat that had the North Tahoe athletes beaming with school pride. In the team competition, North Tahoe’s boys swept the slalom, giant slalom and combined titles, while the Laker girls won the GS and combined championships but came up three points short to South Tahoe in the slalom. Individually, Lakers senior captain Nikki Caravelli shared the combined title with Maia Bickert of South Tahoe, as the pair swapped 1-2 finishes in the slalom and GS, while North Tahoe junior Nico Monforte finished runner-up on both days to win the boys’ combined title.
7. Quinn Parker dominates competition in state championship meet
Truckee sophomore Quinn Parker put on quite a show at the 3A (now Division I-A) state track and field championships this past spring. The sprinting specialist brought home four individual titles, winning the 100-, 200- and 400-meter dashes and teaming up with Skyler Flora, Tareyn Ryan and Gabrielle Rinne – all freshmen – to claim the 4×400 relay title. Parker claimed the 100-meter title in a time of 12.63 seconds to edge Ryan, while her 200 and 400 races weren’t even close. Parker ran the 200 in 26 seconds flat to beat out Elko junior Shaeli Wilson, who posted a 27.52. She then recorded a time of 58.62 in the 400 to outdistance Moapa Valley freshman Emily Mills (60.56). In the 4×400, her Truckee squad entered as the third seed from the north, but with each of the four runners posting a personal-best time in her leg of the race, the Wolverines upset top-seeded Elko in a time of 4:11.22 to the Indians’ 4:11.54.
8. Noah McDermott wins dual state titles in track
North Tahoe running standout Noah McDermott, then a sophomore, was just beginning to heat up in the spring of 2012. He represented the Lakers well at the 2A (now Division III) state track and field championships at Damonte Ranch, where he captured two state titles in the distance events – the 1,600-meter run (1-mile) and the 3,200 (2-mile). It wasn’t easy, particularly in the 1,600, as McDermott found himself in a neck-and-neck battle with Whittell sophomore Mark Waite for the win. Down to the final stretch, however, McDermott outkicked his lakeside rival before leaning across the line and claiming the title in a photo finish. He posted an official winning mark of 4:48.83 to Waite’s 4:48.89. But McDermott wasn’t done. The following day, he went on to capture the title in the 3,200 with relative ease, as he posted a time of 10:31.24 to Incline runner-up Spencer Wilson’s 10:56.08.
9. JP Donovan defends title in Squaw Mountain Run
The speedy JP Donovan repeated his title in the Squaw Mountain Run in near-record fashion this past August. The 25-year-old Incline Village resident took the win ahead of 2007 champion and 2011 runner-up Galen Burrell in a time of 28 minutes, 50.2 seconds to Burrell’s 29:38.3. Donovan’s time was only one-tenth of a second off the modern course record of 28:50.1, set in 2008. Donovan shaved more than a minute off his winning time from 2011 (29:52) to handily outdistance Burrell, who caused Donovan some concern after beating him in June in the Montrail 6K Uphill Challenge, which followed a similar course up Squaw Valley. But it was all Donovan in 2012 as he led throughout. While Donovan flirted with the course record, the 574 participants did in fact set a new modern-era record – since Auburn Ski Club took over the historic run in 2007, when participation had dwindled to 280. The race, now in its 32nd year, starts at the base area of Squaw Valley and climbs 2,000 vertical feet in 3.6 miles to High Camp, at 8,200 feet.
10. Truckee community chips in for new soccer field
Thanks to an ambitious volunteer effort led by Truckee’s soccer coaches, and backed by many local businesses, the Truckee High soccer field underwent a radical transformation over the summer, wrapping up with three days of sod-laying in early August. Aside from its ankle-twisting sprinkler holes and generally uneven surface, the old field was in desperate need of an overhaul due to its antiquated sprinkler system. Because many of the parts were no longer made, any minor issues with the old sprinkler system were nearly impossible to resolve, and the grass paid the price. The field also would become dusty from not being watered in the summer and would then be overtaken by weeds once tryouts began in the fall. The overhaul would not have been possible without the generosity of local businesses, as nearly 30 businesses stepped up to provide either material or labor or donate money to the project. The volunteer project was spearheaded by Travis Spencer and Casey Eberhardt, as well as Katie Jamison.