INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — Incline junior Niklas Pietzke blew away the Class 2A field last weekend at the northern regional meet to help the Highlanders boys’ cross country team advance to the state meet this weekend.
Pietzke earned second place overall, finishing 10 seconds behind the winner from Class 1A, but 31 seconds ahead of what will be one of his rivals Saturday, Nov. 9, at the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association State Cross Country Championships at Rancho San Rafael Regional Park in Reno.
Pietzke finished the 5,000-meter course in 17 minutes, 8 seconds and beat Yerington’s Kutoven Stevens by half a minute and North Tahoe’s Nickolas Burkhart by 46 seconds.
“This year, the opportunities at state are there,” said Incline assistant coach and athletic director Thomas Reymer. “I think we’ll be right there.”
Reymer likes Pietzke’s chances because he’s raced in high-pressure situations over the last couple of years, especially a thriller a few weeks ago in Sacramento where he stuck his chest out at the finish line to edge a runner from Del Oro on his home track, in front of his home crowd.
“Nik is in the right mindset right now,” Reymer said. “He’s far ahead of the best North Tahoe runner and he’s been in high-pressure situations.”
Brendan Pietzke, Niklas’s younger brother, was the top finishing freshman in the race in eighth place (18:10). The next frosh was teammate Luc Casini who finished in 29th (20:33).
Sophomore Jimmy Cleary was 25th (20:11) and freshman Maksim Alexandroff was 41st (22:29).
The Highlanders finished second as a team behind North Tahoe with 57 points. The Lakers’s depth help dominate by placing four runners in the top seven and recorded 22 points.
The boys 1A/2A race begins at 12:45 p.m. Saturday and the weather is shaping up to be like a southern Nevada day in fall.
“I wish the weather was going to be a little colder,” Reymer said. “It’s like the south is going to bring their weather with them. But I expect us to do well and we’re going to get better. We don’t have one senior, we’re reloading from the bottom up.”