he Valley Christian Cross Country team competed in the WCAL Championship Wednesday with the Girls earning a team birth to the CCS Championship. Dean Barron was the top finisher for the boys falling just 1 second short of earning an individual birth.
Sophomores Morgan Lira and Isabel Garcia led the way for the Warriors who finished 2nd and 9th, placing on the WCAL all-league team. Saint Ignatius runner Rachel Hinds took control of the race early running a blistering 5:35 for the first mile and held on to win in 18:25, well behind the WCAL record of 17:16 set last year by Valley Christian graduate Jennifer Bergman.
Lira and Garcia took control of the chase pack at the mile mark which passed the mile in 5:50 and pulled away from the pack in the second mile. Lira held on to finish second place over-all in a time of 19:10, the 5th fastest time ever for the Warriors and a personal best by 86 seconds. Finishing 9th was Garcia who’s time of 19:47 was an 18 second improvement from her time a year ago.
"Our strategy was to pull away the second mile and Isabel and Morgan really went after it. I’m proud of how they went for it and it and the risk paid off," said Coach Small.
Emily Blaha and Kendra Higgins were next for the Warriors. Two of the best runners in the CCS they have battled returning from injury all season. Now healthy and injury free they have had steady improvement the last few weeks to add depth for the team both finishing in the top 25.
Rounding out the scoring team was freshman Kellianne Connolly who finished in 40th in a time of 21:38, just off of her personal best time. Julie Wallace finished in 21:56. All Varsity members were under the 22 minute mark for the 2.95 mile course.
The Boys cross country team placed higher than ever before at the WCAL Championship meet but fell short of their goal of qualifying for the CCS Championship.
Finishing first for the Warriors was Dean Barron whose time of 17:31 was his best of the season. He finished just 1 second from qualifying as an individual. "I am really happy with my season and am glad to go out improving every race," said Barron. "I wish I had just one more chance. I really wanted to run for Joe and Ian and all the team at CCS. I was really looking forward to one last race."
Joe Garcia who has been a force in his first year running cross country set six team records this fall and was looking to get Steve Wheeler’s record of 16:24 set in 1985 but fell short after suffering a minor asthma attack at the beginning of the race. He pressed on to finish in 17:52 for the 2.95 mile course, good enough for 12th on the Warriors all-time list.
"This is my first year running and I have played many sports on many different teams here at Valley," said Senior Captain Joe Garcia. "This team is the best I have ever been on. The closest to a ‘family’ I have ever seen."
Ian Karlsson and Evan Kennedy finished as the number 3 and 4 runners for the team, both running in the 18’s. Dustin Laucella and Ross Martinez rounded out the Varsity team securing the 7th place in the WCAL Championship.
Visibly upset falling short of their goal of qualifying for CCS a parent an onlooker put it in perspective, "It is a step up the ladder. Just keeping taking those steps every year!"