Monday, September 12, 2011

Lira Runs Away From Field; Girls Finish 3rd in Team Race

Sophomore Girls Start at the 2011 Earl Bird Invitational.
It was just 4 years ago in her first high school race that Morgan Lira conquered the 3-mile course at Toro Park at the Early Bird Invitational in 24:12.  Since that first race she has never been without her running shoes, steadily progressing into one of the top runners in Northern California.

Lira's big breakthrough came between her freshman and sophomore year when she took nearly 5 minutes off that first race at the Early Bird Invitational to finish runner up in the Sophomore division with a time of 19:24.  Lira came out strong in 2010 and won the Junior race in what many considered an upset victory defeating the D2 cross country champion in the process.  Coming into this year's race it was no surprise to see Lira up front from the gun once again pushing the pace.  From the start she extended her lead throughout the race to win by a hefty 20 seconds.

"Morgan Lira had to do much of the work alone in the senior girls’ race but she did it in fine style defending her Early Bird win and clocking 18:31 good for 24th All Time," race director Gus Ibarra said in his post race recap. "We thought 2-3 girls had a shot at the top 25 lists and we were pleased to have 3 make it today!"

Lira led the Warriors to a 3rd place finish out of 40 teams from throughout Northern California.  The placing is their best ever at the Early Bird invitational and their team time of 81:48 is the #2 team time in school history, just 13 seconds off of the team record set in 2008 at the CCS Championship.

"In cross country the strength of a team is not determined by one runner, but the core of the team," Coach Small said after the race.  "All the girls really surprised us today, from Ashley Lara to Jessica Xu and Karen Mac who improved nearly a minute and a half!"

Megan Gillespie sprints in to finish the sophomore race.
One of those surprise performances was Ashley Lara.  Running in her first high school race she performed like a pro splitting the first two miles in 7 minutes each before making her move the last mile running in 6:30 to finish in 20:30, the 8th fastest time in school history!  Lara ended up 8th place in a battle with 5 other girls for a top 5 spot and finished as the Warrior's #2 runner on the day.

The Sophomore race saw huge breakthroughs for the Warriors.  Jessica Xu led the way to finish 11th in 21:41 followed by Karen Mac in 20:58.  Both runners competed marvelously, Jessica improving 1:18, Karen improving an amazing 1:43 to earn "most improved" honors.  Top marks also came from Shannon Luu who finished in 22:16, improving over 20 seconds from last year, and Megan Gillespie (24:17).

Rounding out the top spots was Kellianne Connolly who finished in the top 20 in the Junior race in 21:08 and Isabel Garcia who coming after coming of an extended break this summer to heal a hamstring injury finished in 22:38 in the Senior division.

The Warriors will compete at the RLS Relays in Pebble Beach this Saturday before heading to Portland, Oregon to compete in the Nike Pre-Nationals on September 24th.

Full Results: CLICK HERE

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