Friday, November 18, 2011

The Road to State: Shannon Luu

Shannon Luu showed up to her first day of practice in vans and was “completely sure” she wanted to quit after the first day. “It was horrible,” Luu said reflecting on that first day. “The first practice I went to was at Montgomery.”

It was the team’s hardest day, hill repeats at Montgomery Hill, and respectfully one of the toughest practices of the year. But Luu was determined to not give up and stuck it out. She is glad she did, and so is the team as she has blossomed into an amazing runner that is already making her mark on the team’s all-time list.

Luu showed her potential in her first race as a freshman running 22:37 at the Early Bird Invitational. It was just a hint at the things that were to come. She continued to progress through her freshman year despite having to battle shin splints toward the end of the season.

Luu entered the 2011 season motivated to make the varsity team and it showed; she started the season with a personal best at the Early Bird Invitational. She followed that up with a huge breakthrough at the Nike Pre-Nationals in Portland where she ran 21:52 for the 5k course earning a medal in the D3 race with a 21st place finish.  She clearly had something to prove: that the best was yet to come.

Luu once again stepped up to the occasion running her best race at the CCS Championship running well over a minute improvement helping her team advance to the State Championship November 26th. “The word that kept going on in my mind was ‘state,’" Luu said, reflecting on what was the driving force behind her amazing run.

Her breakthrough was in part due to a smart race plan.  Pacing herself the first mile, she passed in 7:10 and then went to work picking up the pace the last 2 miles trying to catch as many runners as possible. “What helped me at CCS was counting the girls I passed and I counted to 40.” 

It worked, Luu once again improved more than a minute running 21:35 the 25th fastest time in the school history.

Luu started to run cross country, “because I needed something to do while my parents were at work” but quickly fell in love with the sport.  She is the energy and heartbeat of the Warrior's cross country team and there is no doubt that she has played an intricate role in this year’s team success. 

“What helps me put in the hard work are my teammates, especially the varsity girls who I consider my sisters. Without them, I do not think I would have any fun. They motivate me in every practice, race, and even in some situations outside of cross country. We all are so close we laugh together, cry together, and we even fight together. We are definitely family!”

Shannon will "bring the energy" to Woodward Park on November 26th as the Warriors compete in the California State Championships.

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