Legends Prevail at 20th Annual Legends Run
It was fitting that Legends win the race that honors them, especially this year, the 20th annual Legends 5K. So when Martin Ponce and Sydney Badger (Ponce, Class of 2013; Badger, Class of 2011) both won, it was just the second time that has happened. Back in 2011 Jeremy Sudbury and Amanda Gramly (before she became Amanda Henriques) both won. It should be noted, I suppose, that in 2007 and 2008 Jeremy also won and the winner of the women’s race, both years, was Leah Leady. Yes, Leah is a Legend, but back then she was still in high school and not yet a Legend.
Enough on history. This year’s race was special in other ways too. It was certainly one of the most competitive, and it also produced more sub-16/sub-19 times than ever before. All five top men were under 16 and the top five women were all under 19:01. Let’s get to the details. Men’s race first.
JJ Santana, last year’s winner, took it out fast and led for most of the race, comfortably in fact. But with less than 600 meters to go, Martin Ponce broke away from the trailing pack and caught JJ, winning going away in 15:26.8. JJ was the clear runner-up, ten seconds back in 15:37. The next three men battled it out for 3-4-5. Dajour Braxton (15:58.0) edged out Eric Klein (15:58.5), and Austin Rogers (15:59.3).
The next 11 men were all under 17 minutes for the 5K: Omar Rubio (16:13.2), Colin Schultz (16:24.1), Ray Fong (16:28.5), Forrest Javi (16:30.4), Colin Schaefer (16:32.7), Solomon Bennett (16:33.2), Ryan McFall (16:39.4), Bryce Odegard (16:42.6), Dominic Henriques (16:46.3), Alan Carreno (16:50.9), and Frankie Bisacky (16:57.6). Terrific stuff!
Those top 16 finishers featured three current college runners: Ponce (ND State), Braxton (LSU), and Klein (Creighton); seven ex-college runners: Santana, Fong, Javi, Bennett, McFall, Henriques, and Carreno; two graduated seniors headed for college: Rogers (Tennessee-Martin) and Schaefer (University of Florida); and three runners still in high school: Rubio (Green Valley), Odegard, (Pahrump Valley) and Bisacky (Durango).
The top women were no less impressive. Sydney Badger, now running cross and track for the University of Michigan, was never headed as she cruised to a solid win in 18:07.4, beating all but the top 27 men. The next four women were all college or ex-college runners: Mercy Sells (18:48.5), Amanda Henriques (18:54.0), Shelby Nelson (18:57.8), and Alissa Bennett (19:00.8).
The next nine women all finished under 21 minutes for the 5K: Erica Schramm (19:47.0), last year’s winner; Baily Gosse (20:06.), now running for UNR; Chris Gentile (20:11.1), one of the top-12 Master’s runners in the USA for 1500M; and Christina Jiminez (20:12.1), another ex-college runner. Next came three high school runners: Amy Amezcua (20:24.7), Green Valley; Mia Smith (20:49.7), Green Valley; and Carnea Williams (20:51.1), Foothill. Finishing 13th and 14th Overall were Tonya Carrier (20:51.5), an ex-college runner; and Skyler Free (20:55.2), Liberty.
Age-group winners not already cited above included Zachary Badgley, winner of the 10 & U AG; Alejandro Belmares, winner of the men’s 30-39 AG; Alexander Miller, a Centennial sophomore, winner of the 11-14 AG; Kirk Buckley, the first Master (men); Lou Gunderman, first in men’s 60 & O; and James Alejandro, first in men’s 50-59.
Among the women not already mentioned Madison Sherman was first in the 10 & U AG; Grace Edwards, a sophomore at Palo Verde, won the 11-14 AG; Susan Dreihaupt was first in the 50-59 AG; and Maureen King was first in the 60 & O AG.
The team competition was dominated by All-Star teams, kind of unfair to teams made up strictly from runners from one school, but it is what it is. Coach G’s men’s and women’s teams, comprised of college and ex-college runners and top high school runners from around the valley, easily prevailed over Team Geiko (Green Valley boys), Southern Nevada Bulls (Centennial boys), Cougar #1 (Coronado boys), Fabulous ‘n Furious (Green Valley girls), and Alta TC (Palo Verde girls).
The Mixed Division, which had the most entries this year (7) was won easily by the Red Rock Running team of JJ Santana, Ray Fong, Forest Jarvi, Amanda and Dominic Henriques, Mercy Sells, and Erica Schramm. Finishing 2-3-4 were the Las Vegas Runners, Lululemon Downtown, and the Roadrunners (SECTA runners).
The meet was a success in terms of total numbers as well. We didn’t quite match last year’s total number of finishers but we came close. There were 256 runners who crossed the finish line in the two races, compared with 269 in 2015. And the biggest winner, of course, was the LVTC Scholarship Fund as all the profits went towards that funding.
Finally, I want to thank all the many volunteers who helped me put on this event. I couldn’t have done it without you.
Phil Lawton, Legends Race Director
Nevada Cross Country Preview: Round up the Usual Suspects
There are some new looks to the alignment of high school cross country here in Nevada this season. The numbers have been reversed—the top division is now 4A; the old D-1A becomes 3A; and the small schools are now 2A (1A and 2A combined for cross country). In Southern Nevada four schools have been moved up to Division 4: Faith Lutheran, Clark, Spring Valley, and Sierra Vista, all in the Sunset Region.
What impact will this have on teams qualifying for State? In the new 4A it’s still a 9-team state meet: Sunrise-Sunset-North, 3 each. In 3A there is subtle change from a 6-team state meet by adding one more team from the South. A2 will remain a 6-team state meet, 3 each from North and South.
Some things don’t change. The powerhouse programs in cross country, North and South, seem firmly established for 2016. Starting with the girls first, South and then North, from A4 down to A2, here is how I see things.
If there is one team that is the overwhelming favorite among the girls. North and South, it is Centennial, the defending state champions. In fact this may the first team from Nevada to compete on the National stage since the heydays of Reno (girls) and Galena (boys) back eons ago. Centennial plans three trips to California this fall, including the Stanford Invitational, which certainly will put them center stage for potential national rankings and a trip to Oregon for the NXN Championships. Time will tell.
New girl’s coach at Centennial, Kisha Finch, takes over for Roy Session, who will confine himself to coaching just track this year. Not exactly a newcomer—Kisha was an assistant coach under Session in 2015—Coach Finch retains defending state champion Karina Haymore, as well as veteran runners Alexis Gourrier and Kayla Roberts. All three were on the R-J’s All-State Girls Cross Country first team in 2015, along with sophomore McKenzie Morgan who made the All-State second team. How deep is Centennial in talent? Loaded! Based on top times for returning runners in Sunset, Centennial has 9 of the top 13. For good measure, the lady Bulldogs have two incoming 9th graders who are expected to make an immediate impact, according to my sources.
Palo Verde, in Sunset, is also awash in talent and likely headed to State again (they were 3rd at State in 2015, losing out to Reno on a tie-breaker). The lady Panthers are led by Emma Wahlenmaier, runner-up at state in 2015. Long-time Palo coach Robert Davis has 10 girls returning who were on the top-50 Sunset returning-runners list (3 among the top 10). He also picks up a transfer from Arkansas, Baily Lebow, who had a 2015 5K PR of 20:50 (according to athletic.net).
The rest of the girl’s team in Sunset will likely battle for the scraps, a third spot at State. Two of the Sunset newcomers, Faith Lutheran and Clark; Shadow Ridge; and Arbor View appear to have the most returning talent.
Sunrise girls are headed by Green Valley, the defending champs, with Sunrise individual champion Mia Smith leading the way. The Gators are, according to an unnamed source, “not deep. But who is?” Still, Green Valley has 8 runners in the Sunrise-returning top 50, the most of any Sunrise team. Smith, who was on the R-J’s All-State second team in 2015 is the only Sunrise runner with a 2015 5K PR under 20 minutes. By comparison the top-8 returning runners in Sunset all recorded faster times last fall.
Foothill appears to have the best shot of joining Green Valley at State. They return 4 runners in the top 15 and a total of 6 in the Sunrise top 50. The Falcons also gain a promising freshman in Erica Schultz, who currently ranks #2 on the team (behind Erica Williams, the #4 returning Sunrise runner), according to one of my sources.
I expect the fight for the third spot to State this fall to come down to perennial power Coronado—hit hard by graduation, but still deep in numbers—and Liberty. Liberty’s Skyler Free and Sydney Groom give the Patriots a strong pair of strikers. Basic’s Raquel Chavez is the #2 returning runner in Sunrise, but the Wolves den appears sparsely habitated this fall, at least on the girl’s side.
If there are teams who benefit by the realignment, they are SECTA and the rest of the teams in 3A in the South. Not only does 3A get a fourth spot in the State meet, two of the top programs, Faith Lutheran and Clark, move to 4A. SECTA, Boulder City, and Moapa Valley are all thus projected to make it to State on the girl’s side. After that it appears wide open among as many as seven schools: Western, Virgin Valley, Del Sol, Sunrise Mountain, Mojave, Cheyenne, and Pahrump Valley. The top returning 3A runner is Boulder City’s Sierra Selinger. Sierra suffered nagging injuries during the 2015 season and despite winning the Southern Regional never fully recovered in time for State, where she finished 16th against a much stronger field. She is now healthy again.
Division 2 was a wasteland for the South in 2015. The North dominated and will likely do so again. The only returning runner worthy of mention is Ellen Hirsberg from The Meadows. Ellen had a 5K PR last fall of 19:54. No other 2A returning runner from the South was under 22 minutes for the distance. Likewise, The Meadows would appear to be the top girl’s team in 2A from the South, returning 4 of the top 6 among the top-50 returning girls. In 2015 Andre Agassi and Laughlin also represented the South. For 2015 Andre Agassi, Laughlin, and/or Coral Academy appear to be in the best position—returning runners—to join The Meadows at State.
My projections of the top girl’s teams and individuals from the North are strictly based on the returning numbers. Such data are always sketchy, since it doesn’t take into account transfers and incoming 9th graders (especially significant with girls). That said, here is what the numbers tell me.
In 4A the North sends three teams to state, which is being held in the South this year. This is another added advantage to the South, which sends six teams to state and twice as many individual qualifiers.
Reno’s girls finished 2nd at State in 2015 and they should easily make it back to State this fall. The Huskies were led by Kyra Hunsberger, who was 7th overall last fall. Kyra was first team All-State and two of her teammates Sofia Young and Mikayla Shults were on the R-J’s All-State second team in 2015. All three are returning. Reno has six girls returning who are among the top 20 of the 50 returning 4A runners from the North. The other two teams favored to make it to State are Damonte Ranch and McQueen. Damonte Ranch has 10 runners on that top-50 list and McQueen has 7. Other teams who will likely contend are perennial powers Galena, Reed, Douglas, and Carson.
In 3A this year the South should have an advantage. The meet is held in the South and the South fields four teams, to the North’s three, as previously noted. Advantage, not! Last year in the same division the North runners swept 1-12. And the top three teams demolished all three Southern teams. Expect the same this year. Spring Creek, Tahoe-Truckee, and Elko are all stronger than their counterparts in the South. Home course advantage? Forget it. You could hold the meet on the Moon and the results would be the same. The top returning runner from the North in 3A is Kacie Bell from Elko, but 6 of the top 8 are from Tahoe-Truckee. The Wolverines, invaders from California, should be a lock to win State, not just the North Regional. Spring Creek and Elko will likely join Tahoe-Truckee at Craig Ranch Park in North Las Vegas, where State will be held in November.
2A will likely see similar North dominance. The Meadows’ Ellen Hirsberg, as noted previously, finished 5th overall at State last year. The other 14 in the top 15 were all from the North. Team wise, The Meadows finished 3rd behind North Tahoe and Sierra Lutheran, beating out Wells, the only other school from the North. Elaine Marchegger from Sierra Lutheran won 2A State last year and she returns, along with three North Tahoe runners who finished 2-4 behind her. Look for those two teams to finish 1-2 again this year. (At least Sierra Lutheran is a Nevada school. North Tahoe, like Tahoe-Truckee is located in California.)
That’s it for the girls. Turning to the boys, South and then North, we start again with the Sunset Division.
Unlike the 4A girl’s programs, Sunset does not dominate. And Centennial is not the same program now that Nick Hartle, Dajour Braxton, and their teammates have become collegians. Still, the Bulldogs, under new coach Chris Martinez, is one of four teams I expect to contend strongly it to make it to State—along with Palo Verde, Arbor View, and Shadow Ridge. The team with the most runners in the top-50 returning runners from Sunset is Palo Verde, led by Daniel Ziems. Daniel is the only Sunset runner to make the R-J’s All State team. He won the Sunset Regional in 2015. The Panthers have an overwhelming presence in the top-50 returning runners with 15 in the top 50, although only 5 are in the top 30. Palo Verde finished 6th at State in 2015. Centennial has 6 returning runners who make the Sunset top 50. I expect the Bulldogs to count heavily on sophomore Alexander Miller, who most recently posted the 7th fastest time among high school runners at the 2016 Legends Run. Ian Jackson is the top returning runner from Arbor View. The Aggies have 7 returning who are in the top-50 Sunset. And if Shadow Ridge is going to the Dance this year—they missed last year—they will need to find a front runner to replace Jonathon Blaine—state qualifier in 2015— who graduated. Lurking behind those four teams, hoping to make it to State, are Bishop Gorman and newcomers Clark and Faith Lutheran.
The strongest 4A team in the South this year is clearly Green Valley, the Sunrise champion in 2015 and 3rd at State. The Gators graduated their Sunrise champ, Austin Rogers, but may have found a replacement in Omar Rubio. Omar had to sit out the 2015 season as a result of his transfer (from Del Sol), but he ran post season at the NXN SW Regional in Arizona and posted the fastest time of any returning runner from the South (16:13). More recently, Rubio was the first high school runner at the Legends Run, finishing 5th overall. He is joined by teammate Lenny Rubi, who was 7th at State last year and made the R-J’s All-State first team. Coach Bud Beam’s Gators have 12 runners among the Sunrise-returning top 50.
If anyone gives Green Valley a run for the money it will be Basic. The Wolves were runner-up to Green Valley in Sunrise a year ago and finished a respectable 5th at State. Steven Birch will be the leading Basic runner, most likely. He was 9th at State in 2015 and joined Rubi on the All-State first team. Basic has 6 or 7 runners among the top15 returning from Sunrise. (I’ve been told that one of the 7 may opt out of cross for another sport.)
After those two in Sunrise, it’s back to the usual suspects: Coronado, Liberty and/or, less likely, Foothill or Las Vegas.
In 3A this year in the South, the one bright light is an individual, Bryce Odegard from Pahrump Valley. Odegard, as a sophomore, finished 4th at State in 2015. He and Chase Wood from Faith Lutheran (now graduated) were the only Southern runners to crack the top 10. Now with Clark and Faith Lutheran in 4A, Pahrump is the only returning team in their division who made it to State in 2015 (where they finished 6th and last). Odegard is the only other 3A runner from the South (besides Wood) to make the R-J’s All-State team. He will not likely be seriously challenged in 3A until State.
Team wise look for Pahrump to fill the void left by the departure of Faith and Clark and make it back to State, this time joined by SECTA—who just missed qualifying for State in 2015—and Moapa Valley, Cheyenne, or Del Sol.
2A is not a haven for cross country runners from Southern Nevada. Tucker Hansen from The Meadows shows up as the fastest returning runner from the South (2A). His 2015 5K PR is 18:26. That time doesn’t crack the Top 50 times in either Sunset or Sunrise. He would be competitive in 3A, however; 18:26 would be the 11th best time among returning runners.
Two of the three teams most likely to make it to State from 2A in November are The Meadows and West Wendover. In 2015 West Wendover, located in Elko County, represented the South at State, along with the Meadows (there was no third boy’s team from the South since there were not 6 complete teams entered at the Regional); the Wolverines are still in the South for cross country again this year. Talk about “out of area”! Other teams from the South who could make it to State—if they get enough runners out to compete as a team—are Lincoln County, Laughlin, Coral Academy, and Adelson.
So, finally wrapping up this preview, we have the boy’s teams and individuals from the North.
The North dominated in all three divisions in 2015. In 4A the defending champions McQueen were led by individual champion Henry Weisberg, who is returning for his senior year. Runner-up Spanish Springs was led by Andrew Riberio, a sophomore, who finished 7th; Daniel Horner, a freshman, who finished 8th; and Matthew Hakin, a sophomore, who finished 14th. All three were on the R-J’s All State second team. Douglas, the third team from the North to make it to State last year, finished 4th at State and the Tigers return 8 runners from the North’s 4A top-50, including John Munyan, who was 3rd at State in 2015 and made All-State first team. Galena, who failed to qualify for State in 2015, returns 7 who are among the top 50. And then there’s Reed, which sent two individual qualifiers to State last year and this year has 5 runners among the top 50. The good news for the South is that only three of those northern teams can qualify to come to Craig Ranch Park in November.
The 3A boy’s teams from the North dominated in 2015 just like their girl’s counterparts. That’s not likely to change, even though traditionally, the South does better when the site is in the South. Last year Elko, Spring Creek, and South Tahoe went 1-2-3 over the three teams from the South. This year I project that it will be Tahoe-Truckee or Spring Creek for the title, with Elko edging out South Tahoe for that third spot. Spring Creek has the defending champion, Cole Campbell, now a senior, along with 5 other runners in the top 30. Tahoe-Truckee has 6 returning runners among the top 20, including two runners who qualified and ran State in 2015 as individuals. Elko has 3 returning runners among the top 6 returning, while South Tahoe’s top 4 runners from last year were all seniors.
In 2A it’s all North as well. North Tahoe, Silver Stage, and Sierra Lutheran ran the table, going 1-2-3, with North Tahoe completely dominating (29 points to runner-up Silver Stage’s 72). The individual winner was Samuel Stewart of White Pine, a junior. His chief northern challengers this year would appear to be Ricky McNeely of Sierra Lutheran and Cole Snyder of Whittell. Team wise, Sierra Lutheran looks like the team to beat. North Tahoe’s top duo from 2015 were both seniors. That said, you can never count out North Tahoe. Ironically, no boy’s team in Nevada, regardless of division, has won more state titles than those Lakers from California. Coach Warren Mills, the North Tahoe coach, has won 19 state titles with the boys and 9 state titles as the girl’s coach. No other coach has won more than 7. Bruce Susong, Reno boys, and Bill Devine, Incline girls, each won 7 state titles.
I’ll end on that factoid.
LVTC Awards 2016 Male Female
Runner of the Year Dominique Henriques Laura Chappell
Eric Hosafros Erica Schramm
J.J. Santana Christina Vergara
Master Runner Danny Murphy Toshi Bertsch
Gamini Sugathadasa Christina Gentile
Jim Tanner Jennifer Lee
Youth Runner Jacobi Garcia Olivia Garcia
Patrick Kodweis Ashley Ibarra
Bryce Tondryk Katrina Williams
H.S Runner Jonathan Blaine Karina Haymore
Bryce Odegard Kate Vanderstelt
Chase Wood Marieta Wright
Most Improved Matthew Clarke Grace Edwards
Trevor Goldwmith Carla Gatson
Steve Thornock McKenzie Morgan
Special Recognition—High School Coach Robert Davis
Family Hook Family
Volunteer Paul Buck
Iron Camel Gerry Morgan
(Bold Face: Winner)
LVTC Honors Santana and Vergara as Runners of the Year
With the full list of nominees and the named winners listed elsewhere, it’s noteworthy to single out some of the accomplishments that led to the selection of said nominees and the ultimate winners.
The selections of JJ Santana and Christina Vergara as the Overall Runners of the Year were well deserved. JJ won every local race of significance that he entered in the past year and was our Championship Series winner, by a wide margin. Dominique Henriques (also a nominee) did manage to beat JJ in a Winter Track Series 1600 in February, but JJ was unbeatable from 5K to the Half. To me, JJ’s most notable wins were the Legends Run 5K—still the fastest 5K in Vegas—and his Big Game double, winning both the 5K (16:07) and the 10K (31:09).
As for Christina, to qualify for the US Olympic marathon trials is a big deal. Christina ran a 2:40.10 at Grandma’s Marathon to qualify for the trials. She then ran a credible 2:50 and change on a miserable hot day at the trials themselves in LA. Christina can run shorter races too. She won the women’s race at the 2015 Danny Gans 5K in 16:59. Fellow nominee Erica Schramm won two marathons herself, plus the 2015 Legends Run, but it was Christina’s year.
The competition for this year’s Masters Runner of the Year was particularly intense, but Jim Tanner was a clear-cut choice among the men—if you discount Eric Hosafros, who was a nominee for the Overall. (The Awards Committee decided to preclude candidates for more than one category this year.) Jim was runner-up to JJ in the 2015 CS. And among his many top-5 finishes in major races this year, Jim Tanner was a 2nd Overall at the Forest Challenge and 3rd Overall at both the Notch Run and the Holiday Half.
The women’s Masters Runner of the Year plaque went to Chris Gentile. Chris was 3rd Overall at the Celebrate Education 8K, but more notable are her accomplishments on the track. Chris is a nationally-ranked Master’s runner in both the 800 and the 1500. She was one of 12 women selected to run in the 2016 Olympic Trials Masters 1500 in Eugene, OR, in July.
The other two nominees had terrific resumes as well. Toshie Bertsch won the 2015 CS and finished 3rd Overall at both the Forest Challenge and the Holiday Half. Jennifer Lee won the Holiday Half and was 4th Overall at the Summerlin Half-Marathon. Jennifer ran 3:03 and change and finished 6th Overall at the 2016 REVEL Marathon.
One category of awards that “weren’t even close” were the selections of Chase Wood and Karina Haymore for High School Runner of the Year. Both were multiple state champions in cross country and track. Chase was the D-1A State Champion in XC (he defended his 2014 title), and Chase also won the D-1A 1600 and 3200 track titles (also repeats from 2015).
Karina Haymore more than matched Chase by winning the State XC Championship (D-1 in her case) and winning both the 800 and the 1600 at State in track. For good measure, she was 4th in the 400. Her 2:08.55 for the 800 (run at the GSWT&F Classic in Albuquerque after State) is probably—I cannot confirm it—the fastest 800 ever run by a Nevada high school girl. Karina was selected by the Las Vegas Review-Journal as the NV Female Athlete of the Year.
Capping the evening was the announcement of Gerry Morgan as the recipient of the Iron Camel award. Gerry has been one of the top master’s runners in the LVTC for more years than I can recall. Rarely does he lose to anyone in his age group. By winning his age group (70-74) at the Carlsbad 5000—arguably the most competitive 5K in the USA, certainly in California—which he did in 2016, and qualifying and running in the Boston Marathon, which he has done multiple times, including 2016, Gerry Morgan has met a standard of excellence and endurance associated with winning the Iron Camel.
As a footnote, Gerry’s granddaughter, McKenzie Morgan—who just finished her freshman year at Centennial High School—was selected as the club’s female Most Improved Runner. McKenzie finished 16th at State in XC, was named to the RJ’s All State 2nd Team; and qualified for State in track, finishing 7th in the 3200.
Phil Lawton, Awards Committee Chair
Legends Preview… and a Bit of Nostalgia
This year’s Legends Run is shaping up to be special. Not only does it commemorate 20 continuous years of the event, it also promises to one of the most competitive ever.
I suggest the competitive nature of this race started in earnest about 10 years ago. That year a couple of high school juniors finished 1-2 less than a second apart. Solomon Bennett from Silverado edged Jeremy Sudbury from Shadow Ridge. The next year, 2007, Jeremy turned the tables on Solomon, beating him by nearly 30 seconds. The two titans squared off a third time in 2008, with Jeremy again finishing first and Solomon again runner-up. By now they were both in college and the finishing times were getting faster and faster. It was turning into the “fastest 5K in Vegas.”
Jeremy won again in both 2009 and 2010, but no Solomon, who took a hiatus both years. But this didn’t mean slower times, just the opposite. In 2010, Jeremy—now a senior at the University of Oklahoma and a college All American—ran 14:32.3, the fastest 5K in the 20 years of the event, on a true cross country course using the Wetland’s trails behind the Silver Bowl. It is, arguably, the fastest 5K ever run over an honest cross country course in Las Vegas.
The next year the course moved to Veteran’s Memorial Park in Boulder City and Jeremy Sudbury capped his running career by winning his fifth-consecutive Legends Run. His time of 15:17 was—and still is—the fastest time ever run over the course that hosted numerous NV high school state XC championships from 2000 to 2012. The second-place time of 15:40 in that race also broke the old course record of 16:05. Who did that? Yes, Jeremy’s old nemesis Solomon Bennett.
Jeremy “retired” after his 5-peat, but not Solomon, who came back in 2012 and won the race in a “slow” time of 16:03, nipping a ringer from Arizona by a couple of seconds. Finishing 3rd that year was a guy you may have heard of: Nick Hartle. Nick would go on to win two state championships in cross, a bucket full of championships in track, and head off to UCLA. (Nick made the semi-finals of the 800 at the Olympic Trials this summer.) Nick will be present at this year’s race, by the way. But I don’t think he is here to run, at least not as a serious competitor.
Back to who is a serious competitor this year. Since he was second in 2011 and won in 2012, Solomon Bennett has run Legends every year: 3rd in 2013, 2nd in 2014, and 3rd in 2015. He and his wife Alissa now live in Indiana. They are both entered in this year’s race. I doubt they are flying back to Las Vegas just to enjoy our August sunshine. Solomon wants another shot at that third Legends title.
So how good are Solomon’s chances of winning? It won’t be easy. This may be strongest men’s field since Jeremy Sudbury hung up his racing flats. Defending champion JJ Santana is running better than ever this year. He recently won the Summerlin Firecracker 5K, setting a new course record.
And then there are the college runners, who will make up most of Coach G’s All Stars men’s team this year. Three who are likely to challenge are Martin Ponce, now running for Montana State and a Legend himself; Eric Klein, a senior at Creighton University who was 8th overall last year; and the newest Legend, Colin Schaefer, who was an NXN finalist in 2015 and an incoming freshman at the University of Florida this fall. The other Legend from the Class of 2015, Austin Rogers, hasn’t been heard from, but he may yet show up and be among the leaders.
Which high school boys to watch? Bryce Odergard (Pahrump Valley), the top returning Legends finisher from 2015 still in high school, is entered. The top returning cross country runners from Sunrise and Sunset are Daniel Ziems (Palo Verde) and Lenny Rubi (Green Valley). Hopefully, they will be on the starting line of the Seeded race.
What about the women’s race? Here too, the competition has gotten better the past ten years. And there is lots of nostalgia there as well. In fact, let’s go back to 2003. It was the 7th Annual Legends Run, ran over a 5K course at Lorenzi Park. The girl who won that year was about to start her senior year at Clark H.S. It was to be the first of three Legends wins for Amanda Gramly, who also won in 2011 and 2013, both of these victories as Amanda Henriques. She is, in fact, the only triple winner among the ladies and surely one of the favorites this year. Amanda turns 30 a couple of days before the race. How time flies.
Another tidbit from the past. In 2007 the women’s race was won by Leah Leady, a high school runner from Foothill who became a two-time Legends winner when she also won the next year in 2008. That year, 2007, we also had a 3K race for the kids. And winning her age group—she was 9 at the time—was Kate Vanderstelt. Yep! The same Kate Vanderstelt who is being inducted this year as a Legend, Class of 2015.
Back to this year’s race. For serious challengers this year to Amanda, don’t count out last year’s winner, Erica Schramm. Erica—the winner of two sub-3 (hour) marathons in the past 12 months—is more of a long distance runner, but she also is one of the toughest competitors on the planet. Last year Erica and her Red Rock Running Team teammates went 1-5 among the women, destroying the competition, which included some good college runners. Amanda didn’t run in 2015; she was pregnant with her and Dominic’s first child.
Next, consider Sydney Badger. Sydney won Legends in 2012 and 2014, while she was still in high school (Centennial grad 2014). Sydney didn’t run last year because she was tied up with cross country training at the University of Michigan. But Sydney is back in Las Vegas this summer, on break, and from what I hear, in great shape and ready to run.
So what you have among the leading contenders for the women’s title this year are the winners of the last five years: Amanda Henriques (2X), Sydney Badger (2X), and Erica Schramm, last year’s winner.
Does anyone else stand a chance? I don’t know of any other Legends still in college who can make the race this year. But don’t count out the best of the high school runners, including the defending state D-1 XC Champion and newest Legend, Karina Haymore. Also, both Alexis Gourrier, her teammate at Centennial, and Emma Wahlenmaier from Palo Verde, could be among the leaders. The top three returning high school cross country runners from the Sunrise Division are Mia Smith and Amy Amezcua from Green Valley and Raquel Chavez from Basic. If any or all of these six girls run, it will provide a preview of the upcoming high school cross country season.
As for the team competition this year, Coach G’s All Star men’s and women’s team, both of them loaded with returning Legends and promising high school runners, will be the clear favorites. The RRRC runners, newly labeled as the Red Rock Running Company Adidas Team, who won the Women’s Division in 2015 with a perfect score, are running this year as a Mixed Division team. That team will include JJ Santana, Dominic and Amanda Henriques, as well as Erica Schramm and Mercy Ray Sells. Mercy, who finished 4th overall in 2015, more recently won the women’s division at the Summerlin Firecracker 5K in July. A formidable team no doubt.
The Legends Run has come a long ways since 1997 when 50 or so runners ran that inaugural race at Pueblo Park in Summerlin. I was trying to make a few bucks—from race entries—to help fund my Bonanza H.S. cross country teams, in addition to honoring the best XC runners of the 80’s and 90’s. In some ways, it seems like yesterday, but in other ways, not so. The years are catching up on me. Still, it’s been a fun ride.
(Phil Lawton, Race Director)
Meet the Scholarship Winners
What a great group of student athletes this year! The nine high school seniors selected as our scholarship winners—five girls and four boys—come from six different high schools. Three of the nine had brothers and/or sisters precede then as recipients of LVTC scholarship grants. These three, Cody Thornock, Kate Vanderstelt, and Johnathon Blaine were members of LVTC for many years; we have watched them mature as runners as their brothers and sisters before them paved the way. All nine lettered in high school cross country and track at least once—most of them three or four years—while two of the nine opted for swimming as their spring sport instead of track and field.
The field of nine includes two Legends—Kate Vanderstelt and Chase Wood—and six of the nine—including Kate and Chase, as well as Danielle Greene, Johnathon Blaine, Marieta Wright, and Xavier Cummins—were recognized for their cross country accomplishments by being named to the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s 2015-16 All State Preps Best of Nevada as First Team, Second Team, or Honorable Mention. Both Marieta Wright and Carla Gatson ran for two schools. Marieta ran both track and cross country for Cimarron-Memorial (three years) and Centennial (one year) and earned trips to state representing both schools in both sports. Carla ran cross country for SECTA and track for Cheyenne (SECTA does not complete in track and field) and, she too, went to state in both sports for both schools. The two swimmers, made names for themselves as well: Cody Thornock as a National Merit Finalist and Jared Selinger as an Eagle Scout.
Talented, smart, and leaders all, all nine are headed for college this fall. Here is a thumbnail sketch of each one, along with some of their own words from their application essay and comments about them from their mentors, teachers, and coaches in their Letters of Recommendation.
Phil Lawton - July 07, 2016
Championship Series Updated Standings: Five Races Remaining
The Legends 5K was not for the faint of heart. None of the leaders managed to collect maximum points but that didn’t stop most of them from trying. Among the top 10 men and women, 8 of the 10 competed and most earned bonus points for their efforts, meaning they finished in the top 15 overall (large-race scoring) or top 5 in their age group. Here are the details.
Men first this time. JJ Santana didn’t win, for one of the few times this year, but he came close. His runner-up finish earned him 19 points—98 total points. JJ has lengthened his lead over his closest competitor, Eric Hosofros, who was “missing in action” at Legends. JJ now has a comfortable lead of at least 34 points over the rest of the field and seems well headed in his quest for back-to-back CS championships.
The race tightened behind Eric, who is still in 2nd place with 64 points, as Kirk Bucklely (59), Terry Stockdale (49), and Ryan Williams (44) all earned performance points by finishing first or second in their age group. Those three are now in the money for a top-5 finish and “bowl bound.”
Rounding out the top ten for the men are Sergio Ibarra (40); Carl Wright (35); James Alejandro (28); and Casey Price, Gerry Morgan, and Alejandro Belmares in a three-way tie for 9th with 24 points.
On the ladies side of the ledger, a new leader emerged. Erica Schramm finished a strong 6th Overall at Legends and those 15 points—70 in total—allowed her to overtake Toshie Bertsch, who skipped the race, opting instead to run out of town. Toshie’s lead over Charlene Ragsdale dwindled to 2 (56 to 54) as Charlene finished second in her age group at Legends and earned 9 points for the effort.
Jennifer Lee also skipped Legends but she still stands third in the standings with 43 points. Linda Williams and Christina Jimenez now have 40 points and are tied for 5th. For Christina it was only her third race this year, but she finished 9th overall and copped 12 points for the effort.
The next five spots in the table for the women show a tie for 7th with 34 points: Grace Edwards, who won her age group at Legends, and Amanda Henriques, who was third Overall, in only her second race in the CS this year. Maureen King is alone in 9th with 26 points after winning her age group at Legends. Tied for the 10th spot with 26 points are Maria Riach, who skipped the race this year; and Christine Gentile, who was the first Master at Legends and 8th Overall.
So what’s left on the schedule? With two races in September, the newly added New Day Racing 5K on 9/11 (replacing the Notch Run), and the Forest Challenge 11 Miler on 9/17, the competition should heat up.
As aside here. In an earlier announcement, I stated that the two races in September were worth a maximum of 20 points, 15 performance points for a top 15 Overall. That’s not likely. Only races with 100 or more finishers of a gender are scored Top 15. Races with less than 100 of a gender are scored Top 10, as is likely with both of these September events. Sorry about that, but I needed to clarify that now, rather than after the fact.
Where was I? Right. CS schedule through December. October 15th is the Danny Gans 5K at Town Square, and November is on schedule for a Turkey Trot 10K/5K (you can score points in either race). Details on that November event are still TBD but we’re working on it. You’ll know when we know. December will wrap things up for the CS with our own LVTC Holiday Half Marathon at Equestrian Park, set for 12/17.
As always, check with me if you have questions or concerns regarding your points. And don’t forget to take credit for any bonus points you have earned for running a full marathon this calendar year. Just send me the details.
Phil Lawton, CS Chair
Championship Series Update: Added Event in September Replaces Notch Run
When the Notch Run for this year was cancelled, I was faced with a dilemma: skip it or replace it. After consultation with the Board, I decided to replace it with a similar event. The Notch Run was a 4-mile run, so I decided to find a 5K sometime in September. I wanted a competitive event but not one out-of-town or with a big-time entry fee. About then, I found out that fellow LVTC member Charlene Ragsdale was inaugurating her New Day Racing LLC with a 5K at Sunset Park on September 11th.
The price was right, only $20 (until 9/9, $30 thereafter), and the location was one familiar to us all: The History Walk course at Sunset Park. It uses a course similar to this year’s Legends 5K. This race will start and finish on and near the entrance to the History Walk loop (similar to where our own low-keys 5K’s have started/finished in the past) albeit with a likely smaller field, hence the start/finish on the loop itself. There is also a scheduled 1 Mile event, which will start and finish 30 minutes before the 5K. However, for CS purposes the 5K is the event that counts.
Start time for the 5K is 7:00 a.m. You need to register through the New Day Racing LLC web site where you can get all the necessary details: awards, age groups, rules for racing, etc.
When I chose this race on this date, I did realize it’s awfully close to the Forest Challenge—six days before. Does this create a problem? Possibly, but it also offers options. For one thing the Forest Challenge 11 Mile trail run in Lee Canyon (40 miles out of town) is not everyone’s favorite; many CS competitors in the past have chosen to skip it. Now with this 5K, the Sunday before, CS runners can “have their cake and eat it too.” You can choose to run both or just one or the other. As a said, more options. More choices.
The scoring for both races will be same: Top-15 in both genders earn 15-14-13 etc. down to 1 point. Top-5 in each respective age group earn 5-4-3-2-1. If you qualify for both, you earn the greater points, not both. And, of course, you earn 5 participation points for running and finishing.
Phil Lawton, CS Chair
Championship Series Update #1
Defending Champions Back on Top
The June event, the STS 3200, was lightly attended, but it did result in a new leader on the women’s side—Toshie Bertch, the defending champion— and an opportunity for JJ Santana—also the 2015 champion—to grab the outright lead on the men’s side, which he did.
The women’s winner of the 3200 was Christina Jimenez, with a posted time of 12:35. Her 15 points allowed her to move up to 6th place with 28 points. The rest of the leaders, behind Toshie (56 points) are Erica Schramm (55); Charlene Ragsdale (45), following a 4th Overall in June; Jennifer Lee (43); and Linda Williams (36), with a 7th Overall for the 3200.
JJ Santana ran both heats of the 3200 and was the only runner to crack the 10-minute barrier. His 9:52—on his second try—was good for 15 points and put him atop the Leader Board with 79 points. Eric Hosafros, who was the only runner among the new leaders to not compete in June, is now alone in 2nd place with 64 points, still well clear of the rest of the field. Kirk Buckley, 6th Overall in the 3200, is alone in 3rd place with 49 points. Sergio Ibarra and Terry Stockdale, who both won their respective age groups in the 3200, now have 40 points and are tied for 4th. Ryan Williams, 8th Overall in the 3200, now has 35 points. Right behind him among those who competed in June are Carl Wright (30), winner of his age group; Casey Price (19), 7th Overall in the 3200; and James Alejandro (18), second in his age group.
Championship Series Update #2
The cancelation of this year’s Notch Run and likely cancelation of the LVTC’s version of the Turkey Trot has resulted in some reshuffling of the 2016 CS venue. It’s still in the TBA stages, but it looks like we’ll replace the Notch Run and the Turkey Trot with non-LVTC events: a 5K in September and a different Turkey Trot in November. It will result in two races in September (Forest Challenge is still a “go”) with none in July. Stand by for more details as they emerge. I apologize for the confusion and ask for your patience.
The next CS event is the Legends 5K on August 6th. It has emerged as the longest-continuously-run LVTC race on our schedule: 20 years and counting. Whichever race you run, the Open or the Seeded, your time will count for CS placing and points.
Phil Lawton, Championship Series Chair
Schramm and Santana Win Summerlin Half. Top Series Leader Board
By finishing overall first at the Summerlin Half Marathon, Erica Schramm widened her lead over Charlene Ragsdale and Toshie Bertsch, now tied for second. Erica has 50 points to their 33. Jennifer Lee, who was 4th overall—worth 17 points, as this was a race with more than 100 women finishers—in the Summerlin Half, slides into fourth place with 28 total points. She is closely followed by Linda Williams with 27 and Maria Riach with 26. All five earned points in the April event. Rounding out the top 10 among the women are Grace Edwards, with 22; Donna Pfeffer, with 19; Teri Gamer, with 18; and Katrina Williams with 17.
JJ’s Santana’s first-place finish in the Summerlin Half allowed him to gain four points on previous leader Eric Hosafros, who finished 5th overall in the same race. They are tied with 64 points. Kirk Buckley is now third in the standings with 39 points, following his 8th overall at the race in Summerlin. The next four places in the standings among the men didn’t change as Terry Stockdale (30), Ryan Williams (27), and Carl Wright (20) all skipped the event. Sergio Ibarra stayed with tied with Terry in the four spot by running “unofficially” in the race, thus earning no points. Danny Murphy, a newcomer to the Series, jumped into 8th place in the Series standings by finishing 3rd overall and earning 18 points for his effort. Mike Schramm is now alone in 10th place with 17 points after winning his age group at the Summerlin Half, good for 10 points.
The next Series event is the REVEL Mt. Charleston Marathon on May 7th, although any marathon run in the calendar year can be scored in lieu of running this particular marathon. But, no, you can only count one marathon, although if you run more than one you can count the one that earns you the most points. Be sure to let me know if and when you run a marathon this year. I know more than a few LVTC members ran Boston this year, as well as other 26.2-mile jaunts. Send me an e-mail with your results.
Phil Lawton, Championship Series Chair
Celebrate Education 8K Juggles Championship Series Standings
The third event in the CS brought out all the top-5 men on the Leader Board and, to no one’s surprise, JJ Santana finished first. Yet our new CS Leader is Eric Hosafros, who finished fourth Overall. How come? This anomaly came about as a result of Eric earning 14 wild-card points by finishing second overall at the Calico Race Labor of Love Marathon earlier in March. Well done, Eric! Eric now has 48 total points. JJ’s 15 points for winning the Celebrate Ed race gives him 44 points. Staying tied for third, as each earned 10 points in the March 8K, are Sergio Ibarra and Terry Stockdale. Sergio copped his 10 by finishing 6th Overall, while Terry won his age group. Both have 30 points total. Staying in fifth place, with 27 points, is Ryan Williams, who also earned 10 points by winning his age group. Moving into solo sixth place is Kirk Buckley, 5th Overall at the 8K, now with 26 points.
Charlene Ragsdale widened her lead in the standings by finishing second in her age group at Celebrate Ed. Those 9 points give her a total of 28, six ahead of Linda Williams and Grace Edwards. Grace, a sophomore at Palo Verde H.S., jumped six places in the standings with her fourth Overall in the 8K. Both have 22 points. Toshie Bertch also moves up on the Leader Board with a 5th Overall and stands one point back with 21. Also moving up were Donna Pfeffer, now with 19 points, and Maria Riach and Katrina Williams, now tied for sixth place with 17. All of those newcomers to the top echelon of the standings took advantage of the fact that many of the early leaders took a pass by not competing at the March event.
The next CS event will be the Summerlin Half Marathon on April 10th. This is sure to be a race with a large field, so the scoring rules will be somewhat different. Let me explain, because this is a revision to the rules as first announced back in January.
The rules for scoring Performance points, Overall and Age-Group, for races with more than 100 finishers of a gender are now as follows: Overall Top-15 (15-14-13 etc). There is no change for AG scoring: Top-5 (5-4-3-2-1). This means that 11th Overall is now worth 5 Performance points, the same as a 1st place AG finish. It corresponds to the original scoring for “large-field” races when prior to 2015 we awarded 20 points for winning overall and 10 points for winning your age group. This revision, to me, is fair. My rationale is that finishing Top-15 Overall in a race with lots of finishers is a big deal and should be worth more points. Also, these races almost always use 5-year age groups, so AG scoring takes into account that you essentially have more AG winners as well. This “tweak” in the scoring can, however, lead to a discrepancy. For example, the men’s race might have more than 100 finishers while fewer than 100 women finish. So the two races are scored differently. This did happen on more than one occasion when we used 20-point Overall scoring for large races. But since men aren’t competing against women in the CS it has no real effect.
One last thought. To the question, “Why not use this scoring for all races?” the answer is “Maybe we will, next year.” But not for this year since it would be changing the rules in the middle of the game. The only races on the CS schedule that are likely to have more than 100 runners of a gender are upcoming: Summerlin Half Marathon, REVEL Marathon, Legends, and Danny Gans. (Turkey Trot, hopefully, will have more than 200+ runners, but for that race we score both the 10K and 5K separately for CS points.)
Feel free to weigh in on this “tweak” I have made in scoring. It was only when it was pointed out to me that it didn’t seem fair that a top-10 Overall finish could be worth less than a top-5 AG finish. I agreed. I fixed it. I appreciate the feedback. Sometimes I write this stuff with the feeling that nobody ever reads it. Prove me wrong.
Phil Lawton, Championship Series Chair
Santana and Ragsdale Take Early Lead in Championship Series VII
It’s only the 2nd inning of a 12-inning competition but JJ Santana has taken the early lead, along with Charlene Ragsdale. JJ is defending his 2015 win, while Charlene, who finished in a tie for 8th last year, leads the pack for the first time.
JJ has racked up 29 out of a possible 30 points to lead the men’s division, while Charlene has accumulated 19 points. Both earned their points by competing in both events, as did men’s runner-up Eric Hosafros who now has 22 points and Linda Williams, runner-up among the women with 17.
The rest of top 10 among the men are Sergio Ibarra and Terry Stockdale, who both now have 20 after winning their age group in the January and February events, the Club Championship 10K and Winter Track Series Mel Sheppard 1500. Alone in 5th is Ryan Williams with 17 points. Tied for 6th are Kirk Buckley, George Schick, and Dominique Henriques with 15. Dominic earned his 15 by winning the WTS 1500 after skipping the race in January. Rounding out the top 10 are Alejandro Belmares with 14 points and Jeremy Wallace with 13, who also only competed in January.
The rest of the runners in the women’s field have only completed one event as well, and it includes most of the heavy hitters (extending my baseball metaphor). February’s winner Erica Schramm and runner-up Amanda Henriques stand 3-4 in the standings with 15 and 14 points, respectively, while Christina Jimenez, who was third in the 1500, stands alone in 5th place with 13 points. The rest of the leaders all earned their points in January: Tanya Carrier , 6th with 12 points; Jennifer Lee, 7th with 11; and four-way tie for 8th among Tosie Bertsch, Grace Edwards, Jamie Ross, and Marie Riach, all with10 points.
The next Series event is the Celebrate Education 8K in March. It should bring out our biggest turnout of the year to date. Points up for grabs will be Top 10 Overall (15-14-13 etc.) and Top 5 in the Age-Group placing (5-4-3-2-1). For this event there will be nine ten-year age groups from 0-10 up to 80+. So come on out to Kellogg Zaher on the 26th and join step up to the plate, or in this case the starting line.
Phil Lawton, Championship Series Chair
Championship Series 1500 Wraps up WTS
Despite perfect running conditions on a fast track (at UNLV), it was the smallest turnout for a Championship Series event in the seven years that the CS has been in existence. But it turned out to be one of the most competitive races ever, for both the men and the women.
There were 24 runners signed up, 17 men and 7 women. I decided to run three heats. The first heat was Masters Men. It was won in convincing fashion by Eric Hosafros (4:59), with Kirk Buckley second (5:25) and Sergio Ibarra a close third (5:27). Terry Stockdale was fourth in 5:43, not too shabby for a guy in his 60’s.
The second heat was all women, and it was competitive from the starting gun. Erica Schramm took an early lead with Amanda Henriques and Christina Jinenez not far behind. With 400 meters to go, it was a two-women race between Erica and Amanda, with Erica still in front by less than a full stride. Then Amanda made her move with 300 meters to go, taking the lead.
At that point Tim (Kelly) turned to me and said, “My money is on Amanda…!” I didn’t offer a bet, but I suggested to Tim that Amanda had made her move too early. Besides, I knew that Erica was more of a middle-distance runner in college, and she liked the shorter distances, whereas Amanda was a 10K specialist in college, not a miler. I also knew that Erica Schramm is one very competitive lady, who does not like to lose, especially to Amanda, her junior by eight years.
I was right. Amanda had made a bold move, but she was unable to break away on the back straightaway; Erica hung tough, no more than five to eight meters back. Erica then timed her move perfectly. Coming out of the final turn, with 100 meters to go, she took the lead and never gave it back, finishing with a surge in 5:04. Amanda faded at the finish, four seconds back (5:08). What a race! Christina was a solid third in 5:28. Abigail Adams (6:19) and Charlene Ragsdale (7:04) finished four-five.
This set the stage for the showdown between the young guns: Series leaders JJ Santana and Dominic Henriques; newcomer Shavik Kanzara, winner of the resent WTS 10K; Colin Corrigan; and Devin Mancuso, two-time Series runner-up. All five of these guys are in their 20’s and they are all in superb running shape. Also in this heat were four high school runners: Casey Price, Cody Thornock, Ryan Williams, and Joren Sellinger. The race didn’t disappoint.
Dominic, the speedster—an 800-meter runner in college—took an early lead, surprisingly, rather than lay back and make it a one or two-lap race. JJ and Bhavik were quite content to let Dominic do the early work, but they hung close. The rest of the field tried to stay with the three leaders, but the pace was just too fast! With 400 meters to go, Dominic started to get some separation, and he gradually increased his lead around the last turn, but then he started to wobble. JJ, in particular, went after him, but Dominic hung on, barely. And it should be noted that if JJ hadn’t had to go around a lapped runner, just before the finish line, he might have caught Dominic. Both runners were timed in 4:07. Bhavik was four seconds back for third (4:11). Both Colin and Devin were under 4:30, giving them a four-five finish Overall (both heats). Casey led among the high school runners, finishing in 5:02.
Just past the finish line, Dominic turned to me, bent over, still gasping for breath, and acknowledged that if the finish line had been any further out JJ would have caught him. It was a great race and great way to finish the WTS.
And here’s a thought. Devin suggested to me after the race that we should do our Summer Track Series on Saturday mornings, early, rather than in the evenings, when temps are still at triple digits in June, July and August. I’ll certainly consider it. What do you all think? And I love the idea of doing them all at UNLV, if possible. It avoids the hassle of getting access to the high school tracks, which are kept under lock and key in the summer. Your thoughts?