In just over 18 minutes of action during Thursday afternoon's Northern 4A Cross Country championships, hosted at Rancho San Rafael Park, the Cougars learned they would need to make state travel plans for two runners. Junior Jacob Fleming placed fifth at the regional meet and senior Josh Briggs took 11th overall. Both finished in the top five individuals from non-qualifying teams to earn berths into next weekend’s state meet set to be held in southern Nevada at Boulder City.
“It was an absolutely tremendous race,” SSHS cross country coach Ron Cross said. “We’ve never qualified a boy before, not even close. I think our best boy finisher was last year and he was 20-something. They really helped bond this boys team. They worked hard in practice and during the summer. They did everything I asked them to do.”
Briggs is one of the standouts from last spring’s strong Spanish Springs track squad, but this was his first year running cross country.
“I’m stoked. I never expected to have such a great season and be so close to these guys,” Briggs said.
The former football player had to tough it out Thursday. Halfway through the 5K race, Briggs tore open his foot and had to deal with a big blister, but he still finished in 18:21.
Fleming said he just had to battle his nerves and couldn’t stop shaking before the race. Once the gun went off, he found a way to settle down and race to a time of 18:04.
“I’m the happiest teenager in the world right now,” Fleming said. “I kept hearing about our teammates going to state. Anna (Preciado) went to state last year, and she said it was amazing. I just can’t wait.”
The Cougar duo won’t be the only runner from a Sparks school going to state. Reed sophomore Cody Forman ran to a time of 18:12, which was good enough for seventh place overall and one of the individual state invites.
The next best Raider was Brandon Robbins in 35th place. Reed was ninth out of 11 teams.
Spanish Springs had two other runners who finished in the top 25. Seniors Luke Holladay (18:39) and Robert Morss (19:08) were 16th and 22nd respectively and helped the Cougars to a fourth-place finish in the team standings.
Galena outclassed the field, wining the team title with just 46 points. Second-place Reno was well back with 76 points. Both teams advance to state.
Galena senior Brian Jordan won the boys race in a time of 17:19, 16 seconds faster than the second-place finisher.
•On the girls side, two more Spanish Springs athletes earned state berths. Preciado, a senior, and Katie Peters, a sophomore, posted fifth and eighth-place overall finishes to capture two of those top five individual berths.
Preciado finished the 5K race in 21:28 while Peters wasn't far behind, crossing the finish line in 21:50.
The Cougar girls did not qualify for regionals as a team, thus leaving the local school out of the team standings.
Reed freshman Jackie Sertic (19th 22:59) and Amanda Sharkey (20th, 22:59) were the top two Raider finishers.
The Carson (36 points) and Damonte Ranch (49 points) teams snared the girls team state berths, racking up the first and second-place trophies respectively.
Carson freshman Alex Drozdoff was the top individual finisher with a time of 21:00.