Girls cross-country third in Mt. SAC race
Last updated 11/17/2006 at Noon
Fallbrook High School’s girls cross-country team placed third among the 31 schools in their race at the Mt. SAC Invitational meet October 21 in Walnut.
“That’s excellent,” said Fallbrook coach Troy Hamlin. “They did a great job.”
The Mt. SAC Invitational is hosted by Mount San Antonio College in Walnut. The three-day meet also includes college and junior high school divisions and is considered one of the most prestigious meets in the sport of cross-country. More than 24,000 runners from all divisions competed.
“It’s a very hilly course,” Hamlin said. “It’s considered to be one of the toughest cross-country courses in the United States.”
The conditions that day didn’t make the race easier for the participants. “It was a very ugly day up there. It was hot, dry, and dusty,” Hamlin said. “I have not seen a Mt. SAC meet like that in probably ten years.”
Two of the Warrior runners suffered from heat exhaustion. Alex Nygren did not finish the race while Cassie Mulkey finished the race but was incoherent after crossing the finish line. “I’m very proud of her efforts out there,” Hamlin said of Mulkey, a junior who transferred to Fallbrook High School from North Carolina and had not competed in a previous Mt. SAC race.
“Hats off to Cassie for even finishing,” Hamlin said. “Without her we would not have placed as a team.”
The top five runners of a school are scored. A team is allowed to have up to seven runners in the race, but Taty Liepelt was injured and Carrie Jercinovich was at a religious retreat and the Warriors only entered six runners in the varsity race.
The top finisher for Fallbrook was Briana Lopez, who posted a time of 21:01 on the three-mile course. Lopez placed 14th, giving her a medal as one of the top 20 finishers.
Fallbrook’s Leslie Grantham was 22nd with a time of 22:26, which was a personal record on the course for her despite the cooler weather in last year’s Mt. SAC race. “That’s a huge performance for her,” Hamlin said. “Big breakthrough race for her.”
Noelle Garcia placed 27th at 22:38 and Amy Hansen finished 33rd with a time of 21:50. Hamlin noted the 50-second pack between the top four Fallbrook finishers. “On a course like Mt. SAC that’s pretty impressive,” Hamlin said.
“They’re beginning to run together as a group,” Hamlin said. “They’re starting to realize that that’s their way to success.”
Mulkey and Nygren were part of the Fallbrook pack before they were overtaken by the heat. “The thing that impressed me more than anything else was at the mile that we had five girls who were within four seconds of each other,” Hamlin said. “I was really pleased because they ran pretty much together as a pack.”
Mulkey crossed the finish line at 23:22 for a 75th-place finish.
Chino High School finished first in the race and Stockdale High School placed second. “Third place was where we belonged,” Hamlin said.
Granada Hills was the fourth-place team.
“I was just really proud of the way the team responded to that kind of weather and that tough of a course,” Hamlin said. “I congratulate them greatly.”
The Warriors were also third in the junior varsity race. Jade Lawrence set a personal record in spite of the heat, crossing the finish line at 22:56 and taking 14th place to earn a medal. Nicole Vedenoff had a time of 24:17 to place 28th, Madison Donaghue was 32nd at 24:29, Lauren Edwards placed 43rd with a time of 25:33, Billie Hughes came in 84th at 28:15, and Chantal Creighton’s first Mt. SAC race produced a 104th-place time of 30:36.
“Their goal was to do the very best in what amounted to terrible, horrible conditions,” Hamlin said of his varsity and junior varsity runners. “I’m proud of them all.”