Carson High’s girls cross-country team has a nice mix of talent and experience entering the season-opening meet in Gardnerville on Aug. 26.
“We have enough girls out to be a competitive group this year,” veteran coach Pete Sinnott said. “This is a good group.”
Headlining the group is junior Josefina Ortiz-Osty, who was eighth in the regionals (20:46) and 20th at state (21:09). To say she had a good sophomore season would be a huge understatement. Ortiz-Osty actually led the first portion of the regional championship before falling back in the pack.
“This is just her second year of running,” Sinnott said. “She has a lot of potential. She has a good chance to make state again. She is a strong runner.”
Also returning this year are junior Blanca Sosa, senior Jiavanna Wong-Fortunato, junior Rheanna Jackson and junior Chloe Hataway.
All four ran at regionals last year. Jackson was 30th in 22:05, Sosa was 22nd in 22:10, Fortunato was 51st in 23:57 and Hataway was 59th in 25:18.
“Blanca is a strong overall runner,” Sinnott said. “She has good strength. It will take her a month to get into competitive shape. Rheanna came in here in better shape than she has been in. She is a big part of our team. Chloe looks a little stronger and a little faster.”
Sinnott is also counting on some newcomers — freshmen Jaiden Shepard and Gabby Lopez, and senior Makaela Bigley — to pick up points. Bigley is jumping over from soccer.
“Jaiden has good 400 speed and good strength,” Sinnott said. “She is very focused. Gabby had a great year at Carson Middle. She had a real strong cross country season. She is efficient and competitive. By the time we get to regionals she will be very competitive.
“(Makaela) has experience playing soccer. She has never competed in cross country. We have to work on her speed and efficiency.”
On the boys side, Sinnott’s squad will be led by senior Logan Mead, senior Miles Bean and sophomore Hunter Rauh, all of whom competed at regionals last year. Mead was 40th in 18:55, Bean was 41st in 19 flat and Rauh was 68th in 20:35.
Adam Flaten, a senior, also returns.
The rest of the squad — sophomore Adan Garcia, Jayson Legott, Liam O’Brien, Zach Sever and Ethan Byassee are unproven.
“I know they will compete,” Sinnott said. “Some have never run cross country before and some were on JV last year. Everybody is going to have to improve every week to compete in regionals and qualify for state.
“Miles is a strong overall runner. Logan has been strong the last three years. Hunter is a strong athlete. He needs a little more speed. Adam is a strong runner and works very hard.”
Sever was second in league in junior high and a two-mile champion in track. He has trained with the high school squad the past couple of years, so there won’t be a concern he’ll be intimidated by competition.
“Byassee has done track before,” Sinnott said. “He is getting better all the time. Garcia is tough and has good speed, O’Brien is a pretty strong overall runner who understands running a little bit.”
Carson’s toughest varsity meets will be the Twilight Meet in Sparks on Sept. 2, Stanford Invitational on Oct. 1 and the Clovis Invitational on Oct. 8. The one thing Sinnott likes about Stanford and Clovis is the course remains the same and makes it easy to see improvement. The Stanford race is run on the Stanford Golf Course. The Clovis event is at Woodward Park, site of the California state meet.
One change in the schedule will be the regionals will be held at Shadow Mountain on Oct. 29 because of irrigation work being done at Rancho San Rafael Park.
Dayton down to 9 runners
Coach Shawn Anderson’s squad is down to nine runners — eight boys and one girl — entering the season.
Anderson lost his two best runners, Brady Heusser and Hunter Hatch, both regional and state participants, to graduation.
He did, however, get senior J.J. Ply back after a year’s absence.
“He has the desire and experience to have a great season,” Anderson said. “He is already in pretty good running shape.”
Ply was sixth in his age group at a national decathlon event in Sacramento, running an event-best 4-minute 30-second 1500. He’s considered one of the top track and field athletes in the region, excelling in the hurdles, pole vault and high jump.
Senior Jared Logan, junior Austin Duarte and sophomores Jason Logan, Madsen Evans and Andrew Matthews return from last year.
“Austin improved a lot from his freshman year to sophomore year,” Anderson said. “He should be my second or third runner. He has the potential to be excellent if he doesn’t let his mind talk him out of it.
“Jason is running like a kid on a mission to prove something. Jason and Madsen Evans finished close together all last season. Hopefully they continue to push each other. Andrew is motivated to improve from last year.”
New runners in the program are sophomore Logan Allander, freshman McClain Simon and Alex Newstead.
“Logan is tall and lanky, and looks like a runner,” Anderson said. “He said he put in a lot of miles this summer, but he just came to us three weeks ago. McClain stands about 5-feet tall. The kid has a lot of heart. He will do nothing but improve.
“Alex is my only girl this year. She is a brand new runner and still getting her feet wet.”
Anderson expects his boys to be in the middle of the pack. Spring Creek, Elko and South Tahoe are considered the top three boys teams.