Fallbrook High School senior Noelle Garcia placed third in the top-seed race at the Southern California Invitational and ten Fallbrook girls earned medals in the cross-country meet held October 18 at Guajome Park.
Garcia’s time of 14:27 on the 2.4-mile course trailed only the 13:58 winning time of Torrey Pines junior Megan Morgan and the 14:23 of Vista junior Michelle Cruz.
Garcia also set a personal record for that course, eclipsing her 2007 time by 59 seconds.
“Noelle Garcia ran an absolutely wonderful, wonderful race,” said Fallbrook head coach Troy Hamlin. “For a senior to be running 59-second PRs is almost unheard of when you’re at that level.”
The Southern California Invitational involves runners of equal team seeds competing against each other.
Garcia actually had the fourth-fastest girls time of the meet, as Torrey Pines #2 runner Alli Billmeyer won her race in 13:59.
One of Garcia’s goals in the race was to beat Cruz, but Cruz pulled away in the first mile. “At the mile it was clearly 1-2-3,” Garcia said of Morgan, Cruz, and Garcia.
“For the second half of the race [Garcia] pretty much ran by herself,” Hamlin said. “She held on nicely to that spot.”
Jenna Ingrande of La Costa Canyon and Emily Birch of Escondido were the next two finishers in the #1 race; both had times of 14:34.
“To get into the 14s is just absolutely phenomenal,” Hamlin said of Garcia’s time. “Everything’s falling into place for her.”
Garcia’s time of 15:26 in the 2007 Southern California Invitational placed her ninth in last year’s #1 race. “She’s doing everything right,” Hamlin said.
Amanda Mulkey was Fallbrook’s #2 runner and posted a time of 15:49 to place ninth in that race and take home a medal. “Amanda’s just getting stronger,” Hamlin said.
Olivia Tidd was nursing injuries but still ran the #3 race in 16:10 to finish seventh and earn a medal.
Medals were given to the top ten finishers in each of the varsity races and to the top 25 finishers in the junior varsity and novice competitions.
Julie Cramer was Fallbrook’s #4 runner and missed a medal by 11 seconds, placing 12th with a time of 16:57. Cramer’s 2007 race saw her complete the course in 19:56.
Tamzen Sommer, a sophomore who is in her first season as a cross-country runner, ran the #5 race for Fallbrook and placed ninth with a time of 16:53.
The #6 and #7 runners competed in the same race, and Fallbrook entered Mercedes Cortes and Courtney Bode.
In the Warriors’ previous meet, a dual meet against Torrey Pines held at home October 8, heat exhaustion forced Cortes to be hospitalized following the race. She placed eighth in her Southern California Invitational race to earn a medal and had a time of 16:46.
“It was good to see her bounce back,” Hamlin said.
Bode was 16th in the race and had a time of 17:34.
The Warrior varsity girls placed eighth among the 13 full teams and fourth among the four Avocado League teams at the meet. “We just don’t have the depth,” Hamlin said.
Torrey Pines won the girls meet and Escondido placed second. Ramona, which is in the Valley League, was third while La Costa Canyon finished fourth to give the Avocado League three of the top four positions.
The top five Escondido runners had a separation of 1:01 while Ramona’s top five runners were separated by 1:15 and La Costa Canyon’s first five finishers had a split of 1:28.
Fallbrook settled for a 1-5 split of 2:30. “We’re just too spread out to do much,” Hamlin said.
Four Fallbrook girls medaled in the Division I novice race.
Jessica Jamison had a time of 17:04 to place eighth, Alexa Villelli posted a 21st-place time of 18:35, Alli Akman’s time of 18:42 gave her 22nd place, and Shara Leehey captured the 25th and final medal spot with a time of 18:50.
Annie-Blair Cunningham was the first Warrior across the finish line after the medalists, placing 28th at 19:15.
In the Division I junior varsity race Carrie Jercinovich ran a 1:37 personal record to finish 13th at 17:25.
Angeline Puranen let two girls pass her in the chute and was given 27th place along with a time of 17:58.
Chelsea Carpenter placed 30th with a time of 18:14, which was a personal record by 1:56.
The Southern California Invitational also included a race for coaches and parents.
In the women’s race Fallbrook assistant coach Lisa Hasvold earned a second-place trophy after completing the course in 18:13.
Hasvold was the top-finishing coach in the race won by Maya Phillips, whose daughter competed on Ramona’s junior varsity team.
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