At full strength, Green Valley’s Milton Amezcua might have been the runner to beat in Saturday’s Class 4A boys state cross country championship race at the Shadow Mountain Sports Complex in Sparks.
As it was, he was the best runner in the state outside of Spanish Springs.
Spanish Springs runners claimed the first three individual places and easily won the team championship with 53 points, with Arbor View second at 89 points.
Amezcua was the top Southern finisher, placing fourth in the 3.1-mile race with a time of 17 minutes, 15 seconds, despite suffering the effects of a car accident. The car he and his mother were in was rear ended at the intersection of Warm Springs Road and Stephanie Street on Thursday.
“I just felt really dizzy and my back hurt a lot, but I just had to push through,” Amezcua said. “No excuses though, I ran a good race, they ran extremely well.”
Amezcua’s time was 29 seconds slower than his regional time of 16:46, which would have been a winning time in Saturday’s state championship race.
“In the beginning I was setting the pace and I had in mind that I was going to win it,” Amezcua said. “I was trying to hold on, but they had a better kick in the end than I did. Three people at the top, 1-2-3 is amazing, so props to them.”
With Andrew Ribeiro winning in 16:52, Matthew Hakin second in 16:59 and Daniel Horner third in 17:06, Spanish Springs had all but claimed the state title before anyone else crossed the finish line.
Arbor View’s 91 points edged McQueen’s 96 in the team scores. Noah Ayala finished sixth in 17:20 to lead the Aggies, crossing the finish line in the same time as Conner Nicholas of Desert Oasis and Omar Aguilar-Espinoza of Silverado, and one second ahead of teammate Keith Williams.
“Spanish Springs, we knew they were going to be super tough competition and we just tried to hold us just as hard as we could,” Arbor View coach Sheina Torres said. “Noah, he’s the one who surprised, coming in first for us and taking sixth, that really helped us.”
Bryce Odegard placed third in Class 3A
In the 3A, Spring Creek edged Elko for the team title after a mild controversy. A Spring Creek runner finished the race without a bib and was initially disqualified, which would have given Elko the team championship. Officials later changed the ruling after conferring with coaches from both teams and reinstated the runner.
Individual champion William Fallini-Haas led Spring Creek, and he left the rest of the pack far behind with a winning time of 16:39 — 42 seconds in front of runner-up Montana Montgomery of Truckee.
Defending state champion Bryce Odegard of Pahrump Valley came in third with a time of 17:38.
“I won last year so I wanted to repeat, but Will ran really well,” Odegard said. “I knew he was going to push it the first couple miles and if I was going to beat him it was going to be toward the end. I just didn’t make it that long and he did a great job getting rid of me.”
The Meadows comes in second in Class 2A
North Tahoe completed the Northern sweep in the Class 2A meet, taking first place with 29 points, and The Meadows was second with 50.
Sierra Lutheran’s Jared Marchegger was the state champion with a time of 17:04, followed by J.C. Schoonmaker of North Tahoe at 17:24.
The top Southern individual was Lake Mead’s Shay Rutledge, who placed third in 17:29, and Ian Cook of The Meadows came in fourth with a time of 17:32.
“I think we gave them a fight,” The Meadows coach Charles Bernick said. “We knew their strength was their depth, and we tried to kind of stick with them. The effort was there, and I think we did the best we could.”