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Girls cross-country rebuilding after key losses

The good news for Fallbrook High School girls cross-country head coach Troy Hamlin is that his roster included 27 girls after the first week of practice.

The bad news for Hamlin is that most of those girls have not previously participated in varsity cross-country.

“It’s going to be a rebuilding year,” Hamlin said. “We’re looking for kids to step up and do what they need to do and become varsity level runners.”

The Warriors finished sixth among Division I schools at the 2007 CIF San Diego Section meet. Four of the seven runners at the 2007 meet were seniors, so their departures were expected.

The 2007 section meet included a 13th-place finish by Kristin Parry, qualifying the Fallbrook freshman for the state meet. Although Parry struggled in her initial state race, she finished fifth in the freshman girls race at the Foot Locker regionals.

Parry moved with her family to Dana Hills, so Fallbrook will be without five of the seven runners who competed at the 2007 section race. “We really lost the heart and soul of the team,” Hamlin said. “All we can do is move on.”

The 11th-place through 20th-place runners in each division race at the CIF meet earn second-team all-CIF status, and Fallbrook had two such runners last year. Noelle Garcia finished 19th to join Parry on the all-CIF second team, and this year Garcia will be one of five seniors on the Fallbrook squad. “Noelle put in a very strong summer, and right now she’s running absolutely wonderfully,” Hamlin said.

Senior Olivia Tidd will likely be Fallbrook’s #2 runner. “Olivia had a strong track season,” Hamlin said. “She’s matured as an athlete.”

Carrie Jercinovich is the other Fallbrook senior with previous experience; two other seniors will be running cross-country for the first time.

Fallbrook’s expected #3 runner is sophomore Amanda Mulkey, who did not run cross-country last year. “I think Amanda is going to emerge to become one of the top cross-country runners in our league,” Hamlin said. “She’s beginning to believe that she can run 2 1/2 to 3 miles and compete against the very best.”

Mulkey was a middle distance runner on the track and field team as a freshman. Although she did not run cross-country last year, her sister was one of the four seniors at the 2007 CIF meet.

Family continuity in the Warrior cross-country program will also be maintained by the addition of assistant coach Lisa Hasvold. Hasvold’s son Bret won the boys CIF Division I individual cross-country championship in 2007 and is now running at Cal State University Long Beach. The boys and girls teams share coaches, and boys head coach Marco Arias joins Hamlin and Hasvold on the coaching staff.

Arias had started the 2007 season as an assistant coach and took over as interim boys head coach after Marty Hauck’s fatal heart attack September 19. Hasvold has experience as a parent and as a runner but not as a coach. “She’s new to coaching, but she’s not new to the sport,” Hamlin said. “She’s fitting in extremely well and doing a good job already.”

The sixth-place CIF finish saw the Warriors finish immediately behind Vista, which leaves the Avocado League for the Palomar League, and immediately ahead of Escondido, which was realigned from the Valley League to the Avocado League. Torrey Pines, which won the CIF Division I championship in 2007, moves from the Palomar League to the Avocado League while Rancho Buena Vista, which placed third, leaves the Avocado League for the Palomar League.

Rancho Buena Vista had the county’s top boys team in 2007. “I think it’s going to be a little bit easier on the boys side,” Hamlin said of the realignment.

Sophomore Nicole Van Duzer is Fallbrook’s other returning runner, and Hamlin noted that freshmen Mercedes Cortez and Sarah Samaradivakara have shown potential. “I’m looking to build for the future,” Hamlin said.

The Warrior girls open their season September 6 with the Vaquero Stampede in Lakeside. Fallbrook’s first league meet will see the Warriors face Escondido on October 3.

Since the cross-country team does not cut runners, Hamlin’s roster may be enhanced after cuts from other fall sports leave girls available for cross-country. “We’re looking to pick up athletes,” he said.

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