RENO — Nick Hartle had every reason to smile after crossing the finish line Saturday.
But as the Centennial senior tried to will his teammates across the line and the seconds turned to minutes, the smile faded.
Hartle successfully defended his individual title in the Class 4A state cross country meet, but the title the Bulldogs runner really wanted escaped his grasp.
Centennial’s goal of repeating as team champion came up just short.
Despite having three runners in the top five, the Bulldogs watched as Galena secured the team crown at Rancho San Rafael Regional Park, scoring 43 points to Centennial’s 52. Galena put all seven of its runners ahead of Centennial’s fourth runner.
“It sucks that we lost,” said Hartle, who won the 3.1-mile race in 16 minutes, 41 seconds. Bishop Manogue’s Donald Bernard was second in 17:26.
Winning in the North, with the race at Rancho San Rafael Regional Park — at just less than 5,000 feet altitude — always has been a challenge. The last Southern Nevada large-school team to do it was Basic in 1987.
“It’s a team sport. They won, and we lost,” Centennial coach Mike McGuire said. “Coming in second at the state meet is nothing to be ashamed of, but, yes, we were hoping to win, so it’s disappointing.”
Carson took third, winning a sixth-runner tiebreaker over Bishop Manogue after both schools finished with 107 points. Bishop Gorman was fifth with 108.
The individual race was expected to be closely fought between Hartle and Northern Region champion Jordan Cardenas of Reno, but the duel didn’t last long.
The two broke away from the pack early. Hartle made his move midway through the race and won going away. Cardenas faded to 10th in 17:58.
“I was happy that I won,” Hartle said. “I was able to break away at the bottom of the hill.”
Centennial sophomore George Espino took third in 17:35. Galena’s Daniel Metzger was fourth in 17:42, one second ahead of Centennial’s Jackson Carter.
Coronado’s Alan Ekanger took sixth in 17:50, Bishop Gorman’s Eric Klein was seventh in 17:50, and Del Sol’s Nick Priego was eighth in 17:51.
South Tahoe, led by race winner Connor Henderson (17:28), won the 3A title. Boulder City was fourth.
The top 3A Southern finisher in was Boulder City’s Evan Klouse, who was 14th in 19:18.
Sierra Lutheran, led by race winner Nathanael Williams (16:43), captured the 2A crown. Laughlin placed fifth.