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Pahrump Valley’s Bryce Odegard leads Southern Nevada runners

PAHRUMP — Southern Nevada’s best runner might not be where you’d expect.

Bryce Odegard doesn’t run for an affluent school in the city, or even for a school in the top classification. He runs for Pahrump Valley in Class 3A, and if you look at the times, it’s hard to argue he isn’t one of the best in Southern Nevada.

“That’s the goal — to be if not the best in the state, one of the best,” Odegard said. “I need to get my times down and be competitive with the bigger programs and that kind of stuff. I have to win some bigger races.”

He’s done just that. Odegard won the Class 3A state race with a time of 15 minutes, 56 seconds, beating the second-place finisher by 15 seconds. Then in this season’s first meet, he won the Red Rock Invitational Sunset Meet, beating runners from traditional powers like Arbor View, Clark and Centennial.

Then last weekend he finished second at the Labor Day Classic, trailing only Milton Amezcua from Green Valley.

“I wasn’t really expecting to go out and win it like I did,” Odegard said of his 11-second margin of victory in the Red Rock Invitational. “It was good solid win right off the bat and a good statement for what I’ve done over the summer.”

Odegard’s summer consisted of a brutal training regimen that included running nearly 200 miles in July alone. As the season got closer, he started strength training and has put a focus on hydration.

“After winning the state championship, I think he has a drive to repeat this year so I think that’s really motivated him,” his coach, Matt Kolodzieczyk, said. “Every morning, 6 a.m. putting miles in.”

Another point of pride is the school and city Odegard represents. Pahrump is a city tucked in the mountains 60 miles from Las Vegas. The Trojans have their fair share of state championships in girls sports, but track’s 1978 trophy is the only state title from its boys programs.

Still, it’s a city that knows what it means when one of its teams or athletes can dominate the Las Vegas sports scene. When the cross country team qualified for the state meet in 2015, its first since 2002, a firetruck-led procession escorted the team out of town.

“It’s not always possible for a 3A school to beat a 4A school. Cross country is one of the sports where anything is possible,” Kolodzieczyk said. “Whenever it happens it’s a big deal.”

The problem with running in the small-schools division is that Odegard’s state-meet-winning time would have placed ninth in the Class 4A race, though still second among Southern Nevada runners.

Part of it is the competition. Not many Class 3A racers can keep up with Odegard, allowing him to kick it into cruise control and not put up his best times at region or state meets. He won’t be racing Amezcua or Arbor View’s Keith Williams or Clark’s Liam Jones at state, but running against them now means he might put up his best times when he has the best in Southern Nevada pushing him.

“When I get to race those kinds of guys down here and prepare for that, I feel like it really benefits me,” Odegard said.

Then he chuckled.

“But it definitely doesn’t bum me out that I don’t get to race against them ar state.”

Contact Justin Emerson at jemerson@reviewjournal.com or (702) 387-2944. Follow @J15Emerson on Twitter.

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