Sept. 11, 2012
RENO, Nev. -
Sam Diaz became the first Nevada Wolf Pack member to capture the individual title at the Nature's Bakery Nevada Twilight Classic with a course record performance to lead the Wolf Pack to a second place finish to nationally ranked BYU. The Wolf Pack put up a real battle with the Cougars, running 1-2 until late in the race.
Prior to this year's sixth annual Twilight Classic, the Wolf Pack had a history of owning second place in the individual race with Amanda Moreno (2007), Christa Avena (2008), Jordan Burke (2009), Sam Diaz (2010) and Johanna Olsson (2011) each nabbing second place. Diaz broke the streak with a measured, seasoned performance that saw her win comfortably by 12 seconds, breaking the course record by 9 seconds. Other than her sophomore teammate, Diaz had little competition by 1/3 of the way into the race. The junior pulled steadily away form the field, negative splitting the race by 14 seconds.
The vastly improved Wolf Pack had three runners (Diaz, Kirsch, and Myers) crack the 15:00 mark on a course which held the team's top finisher last year to 15:15. Demerey Kirsch and EmilyMyers ran diametrically opposed race strategies with each demonstrating they could race successfully at a high level. Kirsch went out with the lead pack moving into the shared lead with Diaz just after the 1 kilometer mark. Her teammate pulled away on the second long hill but Kirsch maintained her composure, holding second until the final 2 minutes. She eventually succumbed to the Cougars top 2 in the final 400 meters to take 4th , improving her time by 29 seconds over last year. Myers ran a build up race, starting well back of the lead pack of 15. The freshman from Cabot, Ark. began her relentless pursuit of the leaders grinding her way past all but the top six by the time she crossed the finish line in 14:56, running the second half of the race 16 seconds faster than the first half.
Erika Root continued her steady improvement, running number four of the Pack with a solid effort that saw her drive to a 10 second negative split. Seniors Christy Works and Nicole Painter each had perhaps the best races of their careers holding down the 5th and 6th positions for Nevada. Junior Amber Karnofel also got proof that her hard work was paying off with a 20 second improvement over last year on the same course.
The Pack races next against number one ranked Oregon on Saturday, September 29th. The three intervening weeks will be a hard training block for the young team. Nevada should be strengthened by the likely return to the line up of sophomore Caitlin Devitt-Payne. Mariah Gramolini should also be back after rolling her ankle early in the race preventing her from finishing last weekend's Twilight Classic.