Carson Striders win J.O. races

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Shanna Sparks and Daryl Nourse haven't missed a step since competing for Carson High School at the Nevada 4A state cross country meet 10 days ago.

Sparks and Nourse - who placed second and fourth respectively in the high school finals - returned on Sunday and ran to gold medals in their age group races for the Carson City Striders at the USA Track and Field Junior Olympics/Pacific Association Cross Country Championships held on Sunday in San Jose, Calif.

Nourse ran away with first-place in the intermediate boys (15-and 16-year olds) division race with a time of 16 minutes, 49 seconds over a hill-lined 5,000-meter course at Santa Teresa Park. Sparks, whose 15th birthday is coming up on Dec. 14, won the intermediate girls race in 18:47.

And those were just two of the highlights on a day when the entire Striders' contingent earned the right to compete at the Junior Olympic regional meet this coming Sunday in Pleasanton, Calif.

"We took down 28 kids and all 28 qualified for the second round," Striders coach Penny Sparks said. "We all had fun."

The top 25 individuals and three teams in each race qualified for the trip to Pleasanton, which serves as a qualifier for the Junior Olympic nationals in Spartanburg, S.C., on Dec. 11.

Three Striders emerged as runner-up finishers in their races:

- Amber Ramos, a South Tahoe Middle School 8th grader, was second in the youth girls (13- and 14-year-olds) with a 17:27 clocking over 4,000 meters, leading a pack of five Striders who cracked the top 20. Kelsey Engstrom also placed fifth (17:50), Emily Johnson seventh (18:15), Amanda Benson 10th (18:36) and Terah Laack 16th (19:59).

- Katy Hoffman was second in the young women's (17-18) race with a time of 21:25 over 5,000 meters, followed by Amy Martin in third (22:47).

- Micah Laack edged teammate Spencer Van Dyck to take second in the bantam boys (10-and-under) race. Laack finished the 3,000-meter course in 12:59, followed by Van Dyck in third (13:09). Trevor Grant also placed ninth (14:56) and Spencer Brinson 11th (15:03).

Jeffrey Martin also placed third in the youth boys race in 15:57, while teammate Corey Hawkins finished 14th in 17:47.

Josh Branco ran 18:17 to place fourth in the young men's race. Justin Grant was fourth in the midget boys (11- and 12-year-olds) division in 17:02 and Michael Russell was 14th in 18:01. Annie Brinson was fourth in the midget girls division (18:13), followed by Kelli Wyrick in fifth (19:53), Mandy Hawkins 16th (20:12), Sophie Rafael (20:32) and Tiffany Halen 20th (20:42).

Jesse Steele placed eighth in the intermediate boys race (19:17) and Dawn Johnson ran 25:26 in the intermediate girls race.

In the bantam girls division, Christa Casci finished 17th (16:20), Danielle Benson 21st (16:54) and Taylor Stokes 23rd (17:13) for the Striders.


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