Salinas, CA - Dawning a shirt she won at the Early Bird Invitational that says “Shut Up & Sweat,” Morgan Lira didn’t have a lot to say after the race, she had done all her talking out on the course. The standout Junior for Valley Christian had just won her race hours earlier in convincing fashion defeating the two time defending champion Allison Sturges, who was also last year’s CCS Champion (D2) and runner of the year. Finishing second in a sprint to the finish in last year’s sophomore race (to Sturges) Lira had something to prove. But after the race it was apparent she is running for more than the individual victory, “I wanted to run well for God and for my team,” Lira said after her win. “I wasn’t even sure I was going to win until I crossed the finish line.”
Going into the race her strategy was simple: go out with the leaders and beat them in the end. It worked. She improved 35 seconds over last year’s race finishing in a time of 18:51, defeating top CCS runners in the process. Her time is the second fastest ever for the Warriors and betters the Junior record set by Jennifer Bergman in 2007.
The decisive moment came just before the two mile mark when she positioned herself to make her move. Following a steep hill called the “camel humps” Lira took control of the race on a technical, short & steep downhill that that corkscrews down the hill. By the bottom of the hill she had a 20 meter lead and she never looked back as she slowly opened up a gap that ended in a 16 second victory.
"She never fails to amaze me," Coach Jonathon Lee said after the race.
Other Warriors had outstanding days as well. Despite a slow start that found her caught in the back of the pack Emily Blaha moved up throughout the race to finish 7th in the Senior Girls race. Kellianne Connolly continues to destroy her times from last season once again improving 90 seconds from her time at this race a year ago, She finished 12th in the Sophomore Girls race. Some out standing times also came from the Freshman. Jessica Xu finished 21st in 21:59 while teammates Shannon Luu (22:36) and Karen Mac (22:41) ran supurb races of their own.
For the boys Ryan Ensor continued to lead the team despite struggling through stomach cramps. He held on to finish in 19:17, which places him 14th on the Warriors all-time list. Senior Andrew McCann finished in a personal best 19:54 and freshman Alex George ran a solid debut of 19:57.
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