Carissa Buchholz is peaking at the right time.
The South Tahoe sophomore blazed her way to a pair of individual victories Friday, May 4, in the 800-meter run and 1600 at Kays Ostrom Invitational at Nevada Union High School in Grass Valley. She set personal-best times in both events.
"It was a last-minute, thrown together meet, but I wanted to do it and work on my strong events," said Buchholz, who prefers the 800 and the 1600 and will also run the 3200 at the regional meet Friday in Yerington. "It was a relaxed meet and it was nice because there was new competition and I didn't know who I was running against. I went out and felt awesome and did awesome."
Thirty-two teams participated in the meet and Buchholz was responsible for all 20 points the Viking girls scored. South Tahoe brought just a few athletes and finished 13th out of 26 scoring teams.
Buchholz started her record-setting day by winning the 800 in 2 minutes, 21.30 seconds, almost a second faster better than she's ever finished.
She needed the personal best because the race was decided by two-hundredths of a second. Her competition passed her on the final turn, but Buchholz edged past by the smallest of margins at the finish line.
"The girl I was running against from Placer, she is really good and I knew I had to do well," Buchholz said. "I went into it thinking, 'I just wanna try my best.' I'm always going for a personal best, but I wasn't intentionally putting all this pressure on myself. I tend to perform better when I have the mindset that I'm just gonna go do the best I can. But we literally finished right next to each other. I passed her in the last millisecond. It was intense. It was a full on sprint."
She bested a field of 41 runners. Last year, the state-winning time in the event was 2:21.10.
Buchholz earned her second victory by defeating a field of 39 competitors in the 1600 by almost 2 seconds. She crushed her personal best by over 4 seconds (5:11.45). The top six runners in the race all set personal bests.
Buchholz set her previous personal best last year at the state meet where she finished in second place. The senior who beat her by 9 seconds that day graduated, making the Vikings star the apparent favorite this year.
Next up for Buchholz and the Vikings is the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association Northern League Championships Friday and Saturday, May 11-12, at Yerington High School in Nevada, about two hours away from the South Shore.
Her goal, of course, is to win everything she enters, but doesn't want to be discouraged if she doesn't perform well.
"There's a lot more pressure for state, but regionals not so much, we don't run against the south," Buchholz said. "At state, it's hard to layout the game plan because you don't know the strengths of the others runners. I know what to expect from the girls up here. State is a lot more pressure. You get a state title if you get first and that's a big thing. But there's always pressure, even on Friday. Otherwise I wouldn't have tried. I'm gonna tell myself that I practiced hard this entire season and just to go out and run my heart out."
The state championships will be held Friday and Saturday, May 18-19, at Carson High School in Carson City.
"She seems to be … PR'ing almost every week in at least one event if not two," said Vikings head coach Mark Hoefer. "Her splits were phenomenal on Friday. They're what you hope every 1,600-meter runner can run. When she gets a little more kick in there it'll probably drop a few more seconds. Hopefully nothing goes wrong before state because I think she will probably win the 800 and 1600. I don't think there's anybody that can compete with her."
Hoefer also is hoping a few other athletes bring their A-game to the regional meet and reach state.
He's hoping Ally Sullivan can continue to lower her times and work her way into the mix in the 1600 and that Theresa Sandborn does the same thing in hurdles.
For the boys, he said David Holmes has a chance in the 3200 and Ryan Neuberger has a shot in the 300 hurdles.
"Yerington looks like it will be a little warm," Hoefer said. "It'll be nice on Friday for the boys when they run the 3200 in the evening, but the girls will be running it Saturday in midday.
"If Ally puts together a good race, she's starting to get her times down, she might have a chance," Hoefer said. "David could squeak in there, but there are some strong 3200 runners. The last couple of weeks David hasn't had any competition. If he stays healthy this week and stays focused, I think he can be right there. Theresa and Ryan both have a chance to possibly slide in their way in the 300 hurdles. Theresa has been improving every time."