Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Warriors Breakthrough at Pre-Nationals!

Portland, Oregon - The Valley Christian Warriors competed in the Nike Pre-Nationals Meet Saturday, one of the top Invitational races in the Pacific Northwest. Over 3500 runners from 150 teams and 6 states competed. Held on the golf course at Portland Meadows the course was a 2k loop that was designed to simulate international style cross country courses that included hay bale obstacles and short roller-coaster hills. Traveling on Thursday the team spent the day leading up to the race exploring Oregon’s Multnomah Falls and Columbia River before taking part in a team dinner hosted by Nike on the their World Campus. There athletes toured the campus, ran on a track in the middle of the forest and even got to meet professional and Olympic athletes.

Despite high humidity and temperatures in the 80-90’s there were many outstanding performances and breakthroughs. Shannon Luu and Megan Gillespie were first to compete for the Warriors in the Varsity D3 division. Shannon Luu was the top finisher in the D3 race running a strategic race where she moved up from 40th to 19th place finishing in 21:53, her first time ever under 22 minutes! Megan Gillespie also had a spectacular day running 23:26, her personal best for the distance.

The boys team were next up and saw outstanding performances finishing 7th in the team race. Running without their #1 runner Sean Davis, who was scheduled to compete in the Championship division later in the day, Ryan Ensor led the team with a finish of 17:44 to finish 11th place. Eyobed Mesfun was next to cross the finish for the Warriors in 21st in a personal best time 18:20. Eric Ortiz, Dustin Laucella and Alex Ascencio worked together coming through the mile in 5:45 and held on to all finish with huge personal bests. Eric Ortiz finished 47th in 18:51 while Dustin Laucella (19:06) and Alex Ascencio (19:10) also has spectacular finishes.

The Varsity girls competed in the Jim Dannor Championship featuring multiple nationally ranked teams including the top teams from 6 different states. The lady Warriors finished 13th place in the team standings led by Morgan Lira, who finished in 8th place finish in 18:31, her best time for the 5k distance. All 5 scoring runners ran under 7 minute pace to finish the 5k course in 21:44 or faster.

From the gun Lira took command of the race taking the pace out hard opening the first mile in 5:30 leading a pack of 4 runners. Lira continued to push the pace through 2 miles in 11:26 before finally surrendering the lead on the roller coaster hills at about 2.2 miles. Warm temperatures and high humidity began to take its toll on the blistering pace as she dropped back to 3rd. Fighting for a top 3 finish Lira was on pace to break 18 minutes with about 200 meters to go to do when dehydration and the heat caused her to slow to jog and then an eventually walk the last 20-30 meters before being rushed to the medics.

“It was a scary moment after the finish but Morgan showed amazing heart and character today. Her drive to get to the finish line is like nothing I have seen,” Coach Small said.

The biggest improvement of the day came from Sophomore Jessica Xu who had a breakthrough performance running 20:06 for the 5k course smashing her personal best by well over a minute. Starting out the first mile at a blazing 5:58 she never gave into the pain and pressed on for a top 50 finish in what was a huge breakthrough performance for her and the team.

Next to cross the line was Karen Mac who finished as the Warriors #3 runner of the day in 21:14. She was followed by Ashley Lara who despite suffering a rolled ankle on Thursday’s training run in Portland, managed to in an impressive time of 21:21. Kellianne Connolly who has shown amazing consistency this season and is coming into her own rounded out the scoring for the Warriors running the 5k course in 21:44. She averaged under 7 minute pace which marks the first time all scoring runners have done so this season. Isabel Garcia has been on the comeback trail and took another big step to regaining her old form. Running 22:15 she improved nearly 20 seconds per mile from where she was just two weeks ago!

The Warriors will now turn their attention to WCAL opponents as they compete in their first league race on October 6th at Golden Gate Park.

Team Results: CLICK HERE

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