Anyone who thinks cross country runners aren’t tough better take that up with Ashley Lara. Since her freshman year she has been known as a bruiser of sorts, not afraid to take an elbow or return the favor. She is tough in practice and even tougher in the races. It is that toughness and grit that has propelled her in the Valley Christian record books.
“I love Ashley’s toughness and grit,” Coach Lee says of the sophomore. “She never gives up. She always strives to be better.”
That desire and push to be better is at the core of why Lara has improved from a good runner to a great one. She looks to prove that Saturday at the California State Championship at Woodward Park in Fresno.
Since the start of the season Lara has shown steady improvement revealing her potential in the biggest races of the year. Earlier this season at the Clovis Invitational she started fast and moved up well throughout the race earning a personal best on the state course running 20:18, a time that stands as the 11th fastest time in Warriors history. As the season progressed into late October, Lara became the 12th runner in school history to dip under 20 minutes on the Crystal Springs course at the WCAL Championship, but felt she had more in the tank.
Looking for that breakthrough race all season it came at the ideal time: the next week at the CCS Championship where she ran to All-CCS honors clinching a trip to the State Meet. Her time of 19:28 on the Toro Park course is the fourth fastest in school history.
This will be Lara’s second trip the State meet in as many years. At this level of competition experience is vital. “Your first year it is a lot to take in and the nerves creep in," Coach Small said. “She knows what to expect and we are anticipating a great run.”
"The excitement and energy of 20,000 athletes and fans sprawled out over 10 races and three miles is undeniably an adrenaline rush. But once the gun goes off it is no different than any other race and you go do what you’ve done all year."
Ashley Lara will compete in the Division III Girls race at 11:10 am Saturday at Woodward Park.