Carson runners host invite today |

Carson runners host invite today

Dave Price

Prep runners from around Northern Nevada and California — even one with some international experience — will compete today in the Carson Invitational cross country meet.

The meet starts at 3:30 p.m. with the J.V. boys race at Western Nevada Community College. The last race of the day will be the varsity girls, scheduled for a 5 p.m. start.

The field of teams includes Sacred Heart Cathedral (San Francisco), Nevada Union (Grass Valley, Calif.), Galena, Douglas, Reed, McQueen, Sparks, Spanish Springs, South Tahoe, Wooster, Hug and Tahoe-Truckee.

This will be a true homecoming for the Carson boys and girls teams, who both competed out of state last weekend. The girls ran at the Great American Cross Country Festival in Charlotte, N.C., while the boys were at the Stanford Invitational.

“We are all very happy we get to stay home after our enjoyable but long weekend to North Carolina and Stanford,” Carson girls coach Penny Sparks said. “It’s going to be great to compete at home and have great competition.”

One runner to watch in the girls race will be Sacred Heart’s Michelle Gallagher, who ran for Ireland in the junior women’s 6K race at the World Cross Country Championships back in March in Dublin, Ireland. She finished 89th in that race and also placed sixth for Sacred Heart in Division 3 at last year’s California state cross country championships.

“We are very excited to have two California teams come to the Carson Invite to compete on our home course and it is especially exciting to have one of California’s top female runners, Michelle Gallagher,” coach Sparks said. “Having that level of runner come to your invitational is a good promotion for the future of our meet.”

Carson’s Shanna Sparks would present a challenge, however, the senior’s status is questionable after battling illness for the last two weeks.

“We are hoping Shanna will be well enough to compete but we don’t need another relapse this close to zone,” coach Sparks said.

In the boys race, the defending 4A state champion Galena Grizzlies are the team to beat. Galena finished second in Division II at the prestigious Stanford Invitational last Saturday behind only Jesuit, one of California’s top-five ranked teams. The Grizzlies were also second behind Reno in the featured boys sweepstakes race one week before at the 50-team Nevada Union/Asics Invitational in Grass Valley.

The Grizzlies can expect to face a challenge today from Nevada Union and South Tahoe, teams that finished third and fifth in the Nevada Union invite.