Fresno, CA - The California State Championship is the pinnacle of High School Cross Country. Boasting a history of national champions and arguably some of the fastest preps in the nation, one might argue there is no other state with the quality or depth of talent. Outside of the national championship there is no better race in the nation, even then this meet might make a fair rival.
It is hard to describe the energy and excitement of the State Championship. There is a purity of competition on display that is found in no other sport. It is you against the course. You against those standing on the starting line. You against the clock.
It is a marvel of human physiology.
If you are lucky enough to make it here that is the easy part. Lining up against the 23 best teams in the state who put in as much work, and are just as dedicated, just as talented is the true test. The intensity and level of competition is unrivaled. The quality of the field is so deep, at times 20 runners cross the line seconds apart. Teams win or lose by a matter of points, which can boil down to tenths of a second for just one runner. Everyone here has the drive to be great and is determined to do their best. To get here every runner has dedicated months, even years to training. The field is leveled. You are now racing those who don’t take days off and run the extra miles.
For the seventh time in nine years the Valley Christian girls cross country team has advanced to the State Championship to face off against the best in California. The Warriors have been represented at the State Meet the past 14 years and yet while this team shares qualities of those before them there are undeniable differences. The team is young: three freshman will toe the starting line for Saturday's race. Camille Reed, Sophia Patterson and Brianna Becerra are up for the challenge and are excited to compete in their first State Championship. First year runner and sophomore Lauren Cicisly will also make her debut.
Just as there are many new faces there are also a few familiar ones. Ashley Lara will compete in her fourth State Championship and joins a short list of runners who have run in the State Championship all four years. She is just the fifth to do so in school history joining Jennifer Bergman, Julie Wallace, Emily Blaha and Morgan Lira. Nicole Favre and Vanessa Giacalone also return with state meet experience having run last year's race. Favre will look to better her personal best of 21:05 run here last year, while Giacalone will also look to do the same bettering her time of 22:14.
"The team will face off against a talented field and the experience will be invaluable to our program and future goals," Coach Small said. "We are excited to go out and give it our all tomorrow."
The Valley Christian Girls Cross Country team will compete in the California State Championship, November 29th at Woodward Park in Fresno. The Lady Warriors will compete in the Division III race at 10:05 am.