Friday, August 27, 2010

GIRLS Cross Country 2010 Season Preview

The Valley Christian Girls Cross Country team is on the radar and has something to prove after being ranked in the top 100 teams in the State by ESPN Rise Magazine. The Warriors return a talented core of runners who look to qualify for their 5th straight appearance in the California State Championship.

Morgan Lira is the top returning runner for the Warriors following an amazing 2009 season that set her part as one of the section’s best runners. Named to the Mercury News all-county team she had a breakthrough performance over the rolling hills of Woodward Park at the State Championship where she finished the 5k distance in 18:51. Her time makes her the second fastest runner in team history, behind 2008 graduate Jennifer Bergman. She also had a spectacular track season where she ran 11:15 for 3200 meters and 5:12 for 1600. She has been busy this summer as well, setting the marks to beat for Valley Christian runners in the 5000 meters and the 2000 meter Steeplechase, where she finished 10th in the nation at the Junior Olympics.

After battling health issues for most of last season Emily Blaha is back to 100% and looks stronger than ever. She has come into the start of the season very fit and will challenge for the #1 spot on the team. Boasting track PR’s of 5:15 (1600) and 11:28 (3200) she has finished in the top 15 in the CCS Cross Country Championship the past two years. She set a personal best at Crystal Springs last year at the CCS Championship and her 19:32 as a sophomore on the State Course is #4 all-time for the Warriors.

Another dedicated veteran posed to battle for the top spot is Isabel Garcia. A two time state qualifier and CCS Champion as a member of the Warriors 4 x 400, team she has the best finishing speed on the team! In addition to her 2:17 personal best for 800 meters she showed her range this spring by running 5:14 for 1600 meters and an impressive 11:43 for 3200. She was the #2 runner for the Warriors last year and her time of 19:38 at the State Championship is #5 all-time. She has come into the season fit and ready to have her best season yet. Together, Garcia, Blaha and Lira make up one of the most talented trios in the CCS and will lead the team in 2010.

A quick glance at the CCS Champions in years past and you will see that the quality of the 4 & 5 runner is what wins Championships. In the past three years the fastest #5 runner is what determined the title and it will be just as essential to the team’s success that not only the top runners perform but the 4-7 runners step up and compete. Leading the charge is Kellianne Connolly who was the #4 runner for the Warriors at the State Championship in 2009 and has improved dramatically after a successful track season and a summer of hard work. She will be challenged by Morgan Rosa-Diniz, who was a key contributor to last year’s squad and was a scoring member in multiple races. Another athlete who will battle for a top 5 spot is freshman Jessica Xu. Xu finished 2nd place in the Junior High County Championship in 2009 leading her team to their fourth consecutive championship and boasts PR’s of 5:43 for 1600 and 2:31 for 800 meters as a 7th grader. Another great addition to the team this year is Sarah Blaha who returns for her Senior year. She has run the Crystal Springs course in an impressive 21:57 and will bring leadership and experience needed to drive the team.

The Varsity girls have come into the season with determined hearts and are focused on continuing the tradition of excellence expected of them. 2010 brings together the most talented and hard working group ever assembled for the Warriors and has the potential to be the best season ever in school history. Potential doesn’t win races though; they will have a chance to prove themselves at the Earlybird Invitational on Sept. 11th at Toro Park, the same course the CCS Championship will be held on in mid-November.

The Warriors open their season in a practice meet against Santa Cruz High School at UCSC on September 4th.


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