Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Valley Christian Track & Field: Girls Season Preview

DSC_0876San Jose, CA - The Valley Christian girls Track & Field team return a talented core of athletes that are coming off a strong showing in 2014 and look to once again challenge for a spot on the podium at the CCS Championship.

Last season the Lady Warriors finished third in the WCAL with five individual league champions and numerous top three finishes. Their efforts had them in the running for a league championship and established them as one of the top teams in the league. The post-season saw the girls Track & Field team finish fifth at the CCS Championship, just five points away from a podium position. The team looks to improve upon last season’s success: in 2015 the girls return all but two athletes who scored in the WCAL final and all scorers from the CCS Championship.

Valley Christian has quickly become a hotbed for the throws featuring some of the best shot putters in the country. The duo of Elena Bruckner and Ronna Stone led the team to a fifth place finish in the section championship last season, becoming the first teammates to finish 1-2 since 2008. Bruckner and Stone, both state qualifiers, scored all 32 points for the Warriors in last year’s CCS Championship. Bruckner, the defending CCS champion in both the shot put and discus, landed on the State Podium with a fourth place finish in the shot put and is the top returner in this season. Stone finished the season with the #1 discus mark in the section and is the top returner in that event, respectively. The early season has been impressive for both Bruckner and Stone who have already set personal bests this spring!

Elane Ma returns as the Warriors top jumper from last season scoring in both the high jump and long jump at the WCAL Finals. Ma jumped a personal best 16’ 11.75” in the Long Jump and 4’ 10” in the high jump. Lydia Sum also saw success in the triple jump, the school record holder has a personal best 36’ 8.5” set as a sophomore. Up-and-comers include Allison Cong, who in the long jump last season nearly topped the 15 foot mark as a freshman and Sydney Clark and Camille Johnson who both broke 30 feet in the triple jump. Impressively, Johnson is also a nationally ranked Javelin thrower (111-11 personal best), qualifying for the Junior Olympic Nationals last summer.

2014 WCAL Finals (96)SPRINTS
Losing top two sprinters from last season the Lady Warriors look to reload in 2015. Nicole Favre returns as a top 400 runner and will join Sonjali Padalkar who returns as one the top 100 sprinters. Padalkar was major contributor to the sprint team last season, anchoring the 4 x 100 meter relay, whose time of 49.34 ranks #7 all-time for the Warriors. Other top returners include Sydney Clark, Tiffani Johnson and Melissa Reese.

The Warriors also return a strong core of hurdlers that boast both champions in the 100 hurdles at the Varsity and JV levels. Lydia Sum is the defending WCAL Champion at 100 hurdles, Nicole Shak won the JV division as a freshman. Top finishes also came in the 300 hurdles with Sum scoring in the varsity race while Nicole Shak, Caitlyn Rowland and Bekah Bruckner all scored in the JV division.

Ashley Lara returns this season to defend her WCAL title at 800 meters. Lara finished ninth in last year’s CCS Trials where she ran a personal best 2:18.73, which currently ranks #6 all-time for the Warriors. Showing an impressive range she also ran 5:12.7 for 1600 and flashed some speed running 60.66 in the open 400 meters, the seventh fastest time in school history. Also returning in the distances, Kailey Eddy enters the season with personal bests of 5:34 for 1600 meters and 11:48 for 3200 meters. Vanessa Giacalone and Leia Wang add depth the distance squad joining an impressive group of younger runners that were all key contributors on this year’s state qualifying cross country team.

The Valley Christian Track & Field team opens it's season March 7th at the Willow Glen and Dan Gabor Invitationals.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Warriors Post Impressive Pre-Season Marks

San Jose, CA – Early season marks from athletes eager to get the rust off in local all-comers and indoor meets have been impressive this pre-season. It is no surprise that some of the top marks in the state have come from the duo of Elena Bruckner and Ronna Stone. Stone set a personal best at the Los Gatos All-Comer on January 17 with a toss of 42’ 4” in the shot put, a mark that moves her to #29 all-time in CCS history. At the same meet Bruckner hit a personal best of 132’ 11” in the discus.

Bruckner, competing in her first indoor meet at the University of Washington on February 7, garnered the state leading mark in the shot put with a throw of 14.52 meters (47’ 7.75”). That mark moves her to #3 all-time in the central coast section. 

“I had no coach, no parents, a new shot and was in a different state entirely,” Bruckner posted to her Facebook page following the UW Indoor meet. “I am so happy to be starting my season with a California state leading mark. I can't wait for school meets to start up!”

Other early season marks have come from Elane Ma who hit 15’ 11.25” in the long jump in her first outing at Los Gatos. Ashley Lara and Kailey Eddy traveled to Berkley for the first All-Comer meet at Cal. Lara won her heat with a time of 2:31.04 in the 800. Kailey Eddy ran 5:35.04 for 1500 meters.

Warriors track & field open their outdoor season March 7.

Monday, January 26, 2015

2015 Track & Field Sign-ups

TrackTrack & Field begins Monday, February 2nd!

The 2015 Track & Field season is right around the corner! If you are interested in joining this year's team please take a moment and fill out the Track & Field sign-up form: CLICK HERE

Athletes not participating in a winter sport are encouraged to participate in the HPC winter conditioning program. Off season athletes may sign-up for after school conditioning Monday through Friday at 4 pm through the GoWarriors athletic website: CLICK HERE

A training schedule has been sent out to all returning distance runners. If you have not received one or are new to the program please e-mail Coach Small at joshsmall@gmail.com.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Alumni News: Jennifer Bergman Qualifies for Olympic Marathon Trials!


Houston, Texas - Jennifer Bergman competed in the US 1/2 Marathon Championships in Houston Texas Sunday, running 1:14:03 to qualify for the Olympic Marathon Trials. It was just her second attempt at the distance and a personal best by more than a minute. Jennifer, a graduate from Valley Christian High School, competed for the University of Arizona where she was a three-time All-American. She finished 8th in the 10,000 meters at the USATF Championships in 2013 and currently runs professionally for Mizuno.

Bergman was dominant as a prep. A three time CCS Champion, she finished on the state podium all four years. Her senior year she was named the San Jose Mercery News runner of the year and qualified for the Footlocker National Championships finishing 6th in the West Region at Mt. Sac.  Her 2008 win at the WCAL Championships is still the fastest in league history and she still holds the team record for every cross country course she ran.

Qualifying for the NCAA Championships as a freshman, she led the University of Arizona her four years as a Wildcat. She finished third in the NCAA 10,000 meters as a sophomore at just 19 years of age. Her success continued through her senior year where she earned All-America honors in cross country and track. Since graduating she has turned her attention to the professional ranks running for Mizuno North America, living and training in Washington D.C.

Her race over the weekend was just her second half-marathon at a blistering 5:38 per mile. "5:30 pace felt comfortable," Bergman said in the interview below. "I felt good so I went with the pack."

"Everything depended on this race."

You can check out Jennifer's post race interview in its entirety at the link below:

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Running in a New Light: Rosa Gutierrez

You would never know it due to her humble demeanor but Coach Gutierrez is one of the all-time running greats. A five-time Olympic Trials qualifier, her list of accomplishments is impressive.  She was a 10-time state champion in high school, an All-American at the University of Oregon, and competed in the 2001 World Championships for the marathon. She is still the high school Oregon State Meet record holder for 1500 meters and even was named a “Legend of Eugene” for the eleventh mile at the Eugene Marathon. Her amazing career is now stretching toward a fourth decade as she has remained an active and competitive masters runner and has been an intricate part of the Valley Christian coaching staff since her arrival. 

The following is an original interview from B-Fit Newsletter in Fall of 2000.

To what do you attribute your longevity as a competitive runner?
I have 10 brothers and sisters, and we’ve always been involved with running and all kind of sports.  It’s always been a part of my life.  I love competition.  I love seeing what develops. It is a wonderful progression. It’s just the positive experiences that I’ve had, that I desire to continue.

Out of your 23 years of running, do you have a favorite memory or race?
I would have to go back to that race [in 1982] in Oregon where I ran 9:10 in the 3000.   The day before, my older sister came to visit and I gave her my bed, so I slept on the floor.  I got up the next morning feeling like my back was not quite right and wondering how I’d do in the race.  But it just all came together.  It was so easy.  It was one of those few instances that you have when it just feels easy.  That was just a wonderful thrill to be running that fast, especially as a freshman.

What happened in college?
I had bursitis in the hip and knee, and I had problems with the IT band.  I think a lot of it was overtraining.  At Oregon, at that time, there were some great runners.  I felt pressure to perform at a high level.   When you’re trying to reach your highest level, you get caught up in ‘more is better.’  I started to feel the effects by having injuries. 

What kept you coming back?
I truly love to run.  I’ve had so many wonderful experiences through running.  Even through the bad; even through the injuries.  Those were some hard times, but they were also great learning experiences.  I feel blessed to have gone through that.  I feel like I’m a better runner, a better person through it all. 

How were the injuries a blessing?
I believe that my decision-making and training now is better. I try to listen to my body more.  I don’t try to get into a routine and just go, go, go.  If I need to take a day off, I’ll take the day off.  That’s different for me.  I used to just get into that routine, and I’d go whether I was tired or not.  This time around, I’m getting a sense of my body and responding to it. 

What other injuries have you faced?
In ’93, I started having some problems with the para formus ligament, deep down in the hamstring.  It was just some achiness, so I continued to race and train, but my times were 2-3 minutes slower.  I was getting frustrated.  I was just off and on from ’93 to ’95, racing here and there, training here and there.

But you still ran the Trials in ‘96?
In 1996, I ended up doing the Olympic Trials in the marathon while still having this problem, while still having the injury.  After the Trials in 1996, I decided, ‘I need to take a break.  This is just too much.  If I’m ever going to do anything with running, I just need to get away.’  So right after the Olympic Trials in 1996, I took time off.  I stopped training at the high level.  I was just running 5 miles a day and just doing it for health reasons. 

How long did this last?
2 years.  It was a good thing.  I’m so grateful that I did that, because I realized that running isn’t my life.  I can have fun and enjoy life without running.  I didn’t know that I could do that.  [Running] has been such a large part of my life for so many years, that I didn’t think I could come to a point where I could give it up and be OK.  Now, I know that when it comes time to give it up and to move on, I can do it.

How did you make this transition?
During those two years, it was difficult.  I think it’s like an addiction.  As long as you’re in that environment, you have a tendency to keep pushing.  So, I no longer went to San Antonio Park and did training runs; I no longer went to the track.  I was basically running the 5 miles at a new park, at a new place.  That was good therapy for me.  It was important to get myself completely out of that environment so that I could just see a different light, see a different way of living that I hadn’t been used to before. 

How was your life different?
I was having a lot of fun doing things for other people.  The running and the training takes so much time, and the focus is on self.  I had an opportunity during those two years to focus on other people.  That was just a wonderful, wonderful experience and joy.

What got you back into running?
I had come to a point where if I needed to give it up, then I was willing to do that.   I had such peace in my heart that things were okay whether I had running in my life or whether I didn’t.  I just prayed about it and had other people pray about it.  I basically said, ‘Lord, if this is Your will, if You want me back in running, then I’m there.  If it’s not Your will for me to be in running, shut the doors.’  Probably a month later, I just sensed that I needed to be back out there.  For different reasons.  Not so much for myself, but this time for helping others. There’s so much knowledge and experience that you can share with others that can help them in some way.  That’s the bigger picture.

This was a major change?
Oh yes. Before, I was focused on myself.  I didn’t talk to people.  It was ‘isolate myself and get focused and get prepared.’  Now I try to be more open.  If it’s just a ‘hi’, if it’s just a smile, if it’s just a pat on the back, if it’s just sharing an experience or knowledge about running– if it motivates and encourages other people– then I feel like it’s a good thing. 

How is your outlook different?
This time around, after my injuries, running isn’t everything. Running is not more important than my family.  If something comes up with my family, I’ll drop everything with running and do whatever I need to do for family.  God is number one in my life.  My faith in God, my trust in God, that’s my desire.  To go out and do what I do– the running, the training, the teaching– to help others.  That’s my focus now.

Who’s coaching you?
Jeff Johnson (of the Farm Team) did the workouts for the [Olympic] Trials; I’ve felt like I have benefited tremendously from it.  I believe in his program.  The women on the Farm Team have also helped me tremendously.  I just really feel blessed to be there and have the opportunity to train with some very talented women

How did you train for the Trials?
I was putting in 90-100 mile weeks every week.  I was weight-lifting, swimming 2-3 times a week, and doing spin-bike 2-3 times a week.  I felt that I got so strong doing that.  At 20 miles [into a marathon], when things feel like they’re shutting down, and the legs are getting tired and fatigued, I can still hold on because of the strength that I have in my legs.  A big part of this is the cross-training. 

Tell us about the [2000] Olympic Trials.
I felt confident more than ever before in any other Trials.  I felt like I had a good chance of making the team.  I went for it.  And I was 16th place. 
I was frustrated and disappointed at the time.  But now that it’s over and I can reflect and look back, I’m just very thankful.  I’ve had my struggles with running, and just to be healthy and strong and to go into that race feeling like I was in the best shape of my life– what more could I ask?  It didn’t come out the way I wanted it to, but that’s the challenge of the marathon.  I’ll just try again.  I’m tired of hearing people say, ‘You’re getting up there; you’re getting older.’  As long as I’m healthy and having fun and the desire is there, I’m going to continue to pursue it. 

So 2004 is on the agenda? [Editors note: The original interview was done in 2000, Rosa has since competed in the 2004 and 2008 Olympic Trials]
Definitely.  I feel like I haven’t given the marathon the chance to see what I could really do.  So I’m going to focus more.  This last year I’ve run marathons every 3-4 months.  I did Twin Cities in the fall [2:41], the Trials [in February], and  I’m going to do Grandma’s next month.  I’m just going to try to do more and get more experience.  With more experience, I will know what to do when something comes up– when this is hurting or this is not quite right– and I’ll be able to make the adjustments that I need to make.

What’s your training like now?
For this marathon, I’m only running once a day.  I’m trying to get the mileage on my interval days.  Twice a week I do the intervals.  I’m trying to do a long warm-up and a long cool-down; basically, getting anywhere from 18-20 miles on those interval days.  I feel like this is going to better prepare me for the marathon.  When you get out 20 miles for the marathon and you’re tired and fatigued, that’s the same feeling I get when doing a hard workout and then going out for another hour to run.

How do you balance it all, with training and working full-time?
It’s very difficult. During the intense times when I’m focused on training and racing, it’s pretty much teaching and training and going to church, and that’s about it.  Sometimes I do get really, really tired; I get exhausted working with kids.  So I make adjustments along the way.  I think that that’s where the change has been; normally I would just keep going, going, going.  This time around, I’m really sensing my body.

Have you made many sacrifices?
Yes, I think that in the beginning I sacrificed a lot. In the past, I didn’t do a lot of things with my family because I felt like it would affect my training and racing and performance. Also, there are some young people that I could have helped through coaching that I didn’t because of running. I’ve spent a lot of time with training. 

Do you regret that at all?
No, I don’t, because this is the time of life, right now, when I’m focusing on that.  That doesn’t mean that I’m going to do it the rest of my life. When I was taking time away from running, I was able to help others and that was a wonderful experience; I’m not doing that as much because of the commitment that running is taking even now.  But I believe that there is a time and a place that is for running and a time and place for those other things.  Right now, I just sense that this is the time [for running].

What advice do you want to share young women out there?
To listen to your body.  If  you’re feeling tired, to take a day off.  To not get caught up in the miles, in a routine and schedule.  To be flexible with training. You’re the only one who really knows deep down what is right and what is wrong; listen to that.

Sometimes, when you’re training and racing and doing everything, it seems like you have to do it [all] on your own.  But there are people out there who can help you.  The Runner’s Factory, for instance; they help me with shoes and clothing and things.  If  you look for it and you sell yourself, there are opportunities out there.  I think too, just to keep your dreams alive with running.  To never give up, to continue to pursue it as long as you’re having fun and as long as that desire is there.  Not only will you benefit, but you will allow others to benefit from it as well through sharing and through your experiences.  Sometimes it’s just your presence that blesses others. 

What’s the future looking like?
I’m looking and seeing good things.  I’m looking to run better times.  I know that in the Trials I was in the best shape of my life.  I’m excited because I don’t know what to expect.   If  you had asked me a couple years ago: ‘Where are you going to be in two years?’  I would have said, ‘Well, maybe running, but I don’t know how seriously.’  If you would have said: ‘Do you think you’ll run the Trials in 2000?’  I couldn’t have given you an answer.  If you had asked me: ‘Do you think you’ll be in the best shape of your life?’  I would have said ‘I don’t think so.’  And yet it all happened.  I’m here.  I would encourage you, if you love running and desire to continue, never give up.  Your days ahead may be your best.  Keep the faith.