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By Joe Naiman
Village News Reporter 

Lynas takes first in high school debut


Last updated 3/1/2021 at 5:40pm

Avery Lynas

Village News/Courtesy photo

Fallbrook High School freshman Avery Lynas leads fellow frosh Abby Petersen in the girls' cross-country meet against Valley Center High School, Friday, Feb. 12.

Avery Lynas began her high school athletic career by finishing first in the cross-country dual meet Friday, Feb. 12, at Fallbrook High School.

Lynas had a time of 14 minutes 3.8 seconds on the 2-mile course to win the individual portion of the race.

"It was great. It was a really fun race. It was nice to have a race because it's been so long," Lynas said.

The coronavirus outbreak postponed the start of the 2020-2021 cross-country season, which normally begins in late August. Lynas was on the Sullivan Middle School cross-country team in 2019, and her last scholastic race was in October 2019 when she won the eighth-grade girls race at the North County Middle School Cross Country League championship meet.

"It's been a while," Lynas said.

Lynas ran for Sullivan's team for three years, and when she was in sixth grade she joined the Time Machine club based in Temecula. Her most recent meet with Time Machine was in December 2019. Lynas competed in a November 2020 race in Las Vegas as an independent.

Bobby Williams is the head coach for the Time Machine club.

"He's a really great guy," Lynas said.

Williams assisted Lynas mentally as well as physically, she said.

"I'm really thankful for my club coach," Lynas said.

From 2013 to 2019, the North County Conference had league cluster meets in which all schools in the league participated. Due to the coronavirus precautions, the North County Conference has returned to dual meets which reduce participant numbers. The Feb. 12 meet was the first dual meet for Lynas.

"It's interesting," she said.

Having two teams instead of six – or more than that in the middle school meets – reduces the number of runners at the starting line.

"It's nice that there's not a lot of people," Lynas said.

Eleven Fallbrook and Valley Center high school girls were at the starting line for the Feb. 12 meet. Fallbrook only had three of those harriers, so the Jaguars won the meet by default. A minimum of five runners are necessary for a team score. The Warriors have six girls on their cross-country team, although one missed the Feb. 12 meet due to an injury, one was playing travel soccer and one was working.

"It was weird not having a big team anymore," Lynas said.

The 2019 middle school championship meet included seven Sullivan students in the eighth-grade girls race and 11 Wildcats in the race for sixth-grade and seventh-grade girls.

Another Fallbrook freshman, Abby Petersen, took second place with a time of 14:22.0.

"I love running with her. She always pushes me," Lynas said.

Lynas and Petersen were both on the Sullivan Middle School cross country team for three years.

The 14-year-old Lynas is a lifelong De Luz resident. She had attended Frazier Elementary School in Fallbrook before third grade, but when her mother obtained a teaching position at Bonsall Elementary School, Lynas transferred to that school and attended Sullivan after her three years at Bonsall Elementary.

In addition to living in the Fallbrook Union High School District, her father T.J. Lynas played in Fallbrook High School athletics as a baseball player before graduating in 1982. Lynas' mother, Gabrielle, attended Golden Sierra High School in the Northern California town of Garden Valley and ran the 200-meter dash, the 400-meter race, and the 4x400 relay for the Grizzlies' track and field team.

Lynas' brother Holden ran cross country and track for Fallbrook High School before graduating in 2020, and Lynas' brother Quinn is a Fallbrook High School senior and on the Warriors' golf team.

"It's a new school for me," Avery Lynas said. "It's an introduction."

Cross-country practice began Feb. 1.

"It was like a campus tour with a run in there," she said.

During the summer, Lynas said she averaged between 15 and 20 miles a week. A hip injury in November, which she believed to be from surfing rather than from running, kept her from running from the end of November to the beginning of January.

The Warriors had nine practices before their season-opening meet.

"You feel like you're a part of a team," Lynas said.

"I'm really thankful to my teammates," Lynas said. "My team is really helpful."

The coaches at each meet determine what distance is most suitable for the two schools' athletes. Fallbrook girls coach Vickie Knox, Fallbrook boys coach Marco Arias, and Valley Center coach Mike Cummings agreed upon the 2.0-mile course.

"The course was interesting. There was a hill at the beginning," Lynas said.

The course started and ended on the Fallbrook High School track. A gradual downhill segment was followed by a gradual uphill segment.

The last cross-country race for the Valley Center runners was at the 2019 CIF state meet. The Jaguars placed 13th among the 25 Division IV girls teams.

"I didn't know about the other team," Lynas said.

Lynas took the lead at the start of the race.

"My plan was just to go hard and try to keep the pace the whole time," she said. "I got a pretty good lead the first 400 meters."

Not having a full team eliminated the normal strategy of pack running.

"Typically, you try to stay in a little pack," Lynas said.

Abby Petersen

Village News/Courtesy photo

Freshman Abby Petersen runs toward a second place finish.

Lynas didn't look back to find out who was behind her or how far behind they were.

"The beginning, maybe the first half mile, I could hear footsteps," she said.

As she built up her lead, she lost the sound of the footsteps and eventually won the race by an 18.2-second margin. Lynas said that she was happy with her time.

"It was a great feeling," Lynas said of winning the race.

Valley Center junior Abigail Cotton was the third overall finisher with a time of 15:00.8. The third Fallbrook runner, junior Maddy Gaul, finished seventh and completed the course in 17:32.8.

"I'm just really thankful to my teammates, especially how much they stick with me, how much they trust me," Lynas said.

Joe Naiman can be reached by email at [email protected]

Madeline GaulAvery Lynas, Abby Petersen and Madeline GaulAvery LynasAbby Petersen


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