Thanks to a never-say-die attitude, Cassia Roth of Carson City and the Silver State Striders-Carson are making plans to travel to Buffalo, N.Y., for the Junior Olympic track and field national championships later this month.
Roth put on a stirring charge over the final lap, capped by a lean that ended up in a spill on the track, giving her third place in the girls 13-14 year old age group 1,500-meter run last Sunday at the Region 14 Championship held in Fresno, Calif.
By cracking the top three in her race, Roth joined six other Striders in qualifying for the Junior Olympic nationals on July 25-29 in Buffalo. The other qualifiers included Ali Marson in the girls 13-14 800 meters, Nicole Scott in the girls 13-14 high jump, Aaron Henry in the boys 13-14 100-meter dash, Christi Works in the 10-11 3,000 meters, Yerington's Mark Davis in the boys 13-14 110-meter high hurdles and Reno's Chris Concha in the 15-16 3,000 meters.
Coach Dave Marson was pleased with the performances of the Striders.
"We had so many first-year runners in our program this year, I didn't want to set expectations that were too high for them, but they surpassed even my wildest dreams," Marson observed. "It's nice to see all the hard work that young athletes do pay off in the end. Almost every athlete ran a personal record in their event."
Roth, 13, who will be a freshman at Carson High School this coming fall, ran 11:27.7 in the 3,000 on Saturday but placed a non-qualifying fourth in the race. She wasn't to be denied on Sunday, running 5:14.1 to place third. The time was a personal record by seven seconds.
Halfway through the race, Roth was about 20 meters behind the third- and fourth-place runners, Marson pointed out. She cut the deficit in half before the start of the bell lap but still trailed coming into the final 15 meters before putting on one final burst that left her on the all-weather surface at Ratcliffe Stadium.
"Cassia was on my soccer team three years ago, and immediately I knew I had someone special to work with. She does anything to get better, no matter how long it takes," Marson said, adding that Roth's 5:14 time for 1,500 meters equates to about 5:34 for one mile.
Scott placed in the high jump with a 4-4 clearance while Ali Marson, Kali Williams, Colleen Sheehan and Roth placed in the girls 13-14 4x800 relay.
Henry, an all-star Babe Ruth baseball player in Carson City, flashed some speed in the 100 with an 11.9 clocking that was good for third in the boys 13-14 division.
Davis, who will be an 8th grader at Yerington Intermediate School this fall, placed second in the high hudles. Concha, a Reno High student, ran 4:19 in the 1,500 and 9:35 in the 3,000, and Works ran 12:24 in the 3,000.
Other Striders competed at the Regional meet in Fresno, and while they didn't qualify to advance, they did return home with lifetime best marks.
Samantha Beetle, 9, ran 2:55 in the 800 and 6:05 in the 1,500, and Elizabeth Beetle ran 5:53 and 12:50. Jenny Jaggard, who had only been running with the team for five weeks, ran 2:38 in the 800. And Chris Kuhn, 10, a winner at the Pacific Association meet held in Carson City three weeks ago, ran 11:19 in the 3,000.
"We have a great group of kids who like to be together, which makes it a lot easier on me as a coach," Marson said. "I don't have to tell these kids to be at practice, they just show up and do their workouts."