DIVISION I STATE CROSS COUNTRY PREVIEW
WHAT: NIAA State Cross Country Championships
RACE TIMES: 10 a.m. Division I girls, 10:45 a.m. Division I-A girls, 11:30 a.m. III-IV girls, 12:45 p.m. Division I boys, 1:20 p.m. Division I-A boys, 1:55 p.m. Division III-IV boys.
WHERE: Sunset Park, 2601 E. Sunset Road, Las Vegas
COURSE: NIAA Assistant Director Donnie Nelson describes the course as “Pancake flat … and fast mostly on packed dirt, with the exception of the 200-meter start on grass and 400-meter section on each of the two loops on grass.”
GIRLS TEAM PREVIEW: Arbor View edged Centennial, 68-73, to win the state title last year and Douglas finished third with 87 points. Douglas returns as the two-time Northern Region champion and figures to be in the title hunt along with Sunset Region champ Centennial. The Tigers prevailed over Galena 57-67 at the Northern Region meet on Oct. 30.
Centennial had five runners in the top 10 to beat Palo Verde 27-43 for the Sunset Region title the same day. Foothill beat Green Valley to win the Sunrise Region title, 35-48. Douglas won its only state team championship in 1998.
INDIVIDUAL: Douglas senior Lindsey Adams is looking to repeat her 2011 gold medal performance and become the first runner in school history to win multiple state cross country titles. Adams is coming off a second-place finish at the Northern Region meet behind Reno sophomore Kyra Hunsberger. Last year¹s state champion, Sydney Badger of Centennial, has graduated. Now meet freshman Alexis Gourrier, who led the Bulldogs to another region title last weekend and ran out front wire-to-wire en route to a Sunset Park course record of 19:10 (5K). Foothill freshman Karina Haymore also led start to finish to win the Sunrise Region race in 20:10 three minutes faster than her time on the same course at the start of the season. Expect to see a much faster time on Saturday. Hunsberger’s 5K time of 18:06 at the Stanford Invitational on Sept. 27 is the fastest by any girl in the state. Adams ranks No. 2 with her 18:20 at Stanford, Galena’s Abby Bolt No. 3 at 18:42 and Carson’s Eveline Delgado No. 4 at 18:53. Gourrier ran an impressive 17:30 for 3 miles at the Woodbridge Invitational in Southern California on Sept. 20.
BOYS TEAM PREVIEW: McQueen is undefeated in Nevada this season and the team to beat on paper. The Lancers won the Northern Region title by a 39-81 margin over Douglas last Thursday. Palo Verde won the Sunset Region title 37-71 over defending state champion Centennial. Douglas finished fourth at state in 2013. Green Valley cruised to the Sunrise Region title.
INDIVIDUAL: McQueen senior Kai Benedict is the defending state champion and has logged the state’s fastest 5K time this season, a 15:10 effort at the Stanford Invitational. Connor Ross ranks No. 2 with his 15:27 and is coming off a gold medal run at the region meet. Centennial senior Dajour Braxton, who has placed third at state the last two years, won the Sunset Region gold medal on Oct. 30 with a personal record 5K time of 15:44.
Green Valley junior Austin Rogers is the Sunrise Region champion (16:42). There is an abundance of speed if the race comes down to a sprint. Ross has run 1:52.41 for 800 meters (48.0 for 400), Braxton 1:54.0 and Benedict 1:55.33. Douglas has produced one state champion on the boys side, Ryan Bentley in 1994. Carson’s Ian Van Rensselaer finished 19th last week at regions, and will look to improve his time.
Compiled by Dave Price