Thursday, September 6, 2012

Lady Warriors Shine in Annual Watermelon Run

Coming into this year’s Watermelon Run it is hard not to miss the two outstanding seniors that have left their mark on the record books: Morgan Lira who is attending Morehead State in Kentucky, and Isabel Garcia, attending the University of Arizona.  You also can’t miss the competitive desire amongst returning runners now that the top spot is up for grabs. 

But as much as there is inner-squad competition to be this year’s top runner it is understood that each runner needs to step up as a collective of individuals to be competitive as a team.  Each runner must take personal responsibility to add to the group, and for good reason: the Warriors have made five of the last six State Championships and this year will be one of the most difficult to qualify for in the past decade.  "Losing two great runners everyone needs to step it up this year and make up for the girls who graduated," Jessica Xu said realizing the importance that each runner has on this year's team.

Jessica did her fair share dropping 25 seconds from her time a year ago, stepping momentarily into the role of top runner for the Warriors finishing in a personal best of 14:45.  Xu had an impressive sophomore year blossoming at the Nike Pre-Nationals where she ran 20:06 for 5k.  She carried that into the CCS meet where she ran19:21 to finish 11th in the section. 

She has company at the top however, as the top 6 all finished within 40 seconds of each other.  That is a good sign as the Warriors start their season, they can no longer rely on a top runner but instead on each other.  Depth is key in 2012.

Next across the finish line was freshman Kailey Eddy.  Running the 4th fastest time and a freshman record Eddy finished the 2.08 mile course in 14:52.  She has been impressive early season and is a welcome addition to this year’s Varsity team.  Kellianne Connolly, this year’s Team Captain was third for the Warriors and picked up right where she left off last season finishing in 15:18.  She was followed by a pack of Warriors, Ashley Lara (15:22), Amy Reyes (15:23) and Shannon Luu(15:25).  Lara is finding her stride after a summer of competitive softball and is showing rapid improvement in the early season. 

New to the team this year and finishing 5th was Amy Reyes. "My highlight was definitely the watermelon," Reyes said after this years race.  "Watermelon is my favorite all-time food, my record is eating 1/2 of a watermelon all by myself!"

The watermelon seemed to provide extra motivation for the senior who joins the team for the first time this year. Running cross country in Junior High, Reyes explored an array of activities in high school including golf, tennis, dance and even cheerleading before joining track last spring and now returns to cross country. The team is happy she is back, finishing in 15:23, a time that places her 8th all-time, she adds much needed depth to this year's squad. 

One of the most improved performances came from Shannon Luu. Finishing in 15:25 the junior has shown impressive improvement her last three years. Luu had a breakthrough track season running 2:35 for 800 meters, 5:52 for 1600 and was impressive on the team's 4 x 400 relay. Running 21:38 at last year's state championship for 5k her improvement is a good sign for a team where depth is key to this year's success.

But the day was not all about the Varsity runners.  It was a record turnout that saw impressive runs from newcomers who were running in their first cross country race.   Veteran Megan Gillespie has taken a leadership role this year making sure the new runners know where they are going and helping with the ins and outs of the team.  It shows as first year runners Leia Wang and Morgan Starkey both earned recognition on the team’s all-time top 20 list.

Over-all it was an impressive day for the Warriors not just on the trails but in bonding as a team.  The Lady Warriors now turn their focus to their first race of the season, the Early Bird Invitational at Toro Park in Salinas.  Races begin at 9 am with the freshman girls.

14:45  Jessica Xu
14:52  Kailey Eddy
15:18  Kellianne Connolly
15:22  Ashley Lara
15:23  Amy Reyes
15:25  Shannon Luu
16:40  Megan Gillespie
17:39  Leia Wang
17:58  Morgan Starkey
18:46  Amanda Ernenwein
18:55  Nia Hayden
20:31  Winse Tan
20:41  Katie Osumi
20:45  Anna Kleinsmith

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