Village News Reporter
Fallbrook High School junior Abby Petersen placed 146th among Division II girls at the CIF state cross-country meet Saturday, Nov. 26, at Woodward Park in Fresno.
Petersen posted a time of 20 minutes, 50 seconds, 9 tenths on the 5,000-meter, or 3.1-mile, course. The Division II girls race had 202 runners.
“I thought it was a great experience,” Petersen said.
“Abby did incredible for the entire season, and we were really proud of how she performed that last race,” Fallbrook co-coach Ciera Holland said.
“She did a great job,” Fallbrook co-coach Ana Nabor said. “She did phenomenal. She gave it her all and her best.”
The three Division II schools with the highest team scores at the CIF San Diego Section meet Saturday, Nov. 12, at Morley Field in San Diego qualified for the state meet as a team, and the five fastest individual runners not affiliated with a school which qualified as a team also qualified for the state meet. Fallbrook placed sixth as a team. Petersen was seventh among the 109 individual runners and was the third individual qualifier.
The individual champion at the state meet, Ventura High School sophomore Sadie Engelhardt, had a time of 16:57.9. The first San Diego Section finisher, Vista High School senior Melissa Estrada, finished in 19:05.7 and was 41st overall. Los Altos was the team champion. The highest-finishing San Diego Section team, Scripps Ranch, placed 18th among the 24 team qualifiers.
Scripps Ranch senior Michaela Martin was the second San Diego section finisher, and her time of 19:31.6 placed 68th overall. In the San Diego Section race, Estrada finished second behind Mount Carmel senior Breea Selbrede, whose state meet time of 18:48.0 gave her 87th place overall and third among San Diego Section runners. Scripps Ranch sophomore Ally Van Duren finished immediately ahead of Petersen in the section race; at the state meet her time of 19:52.0 made her the fourth San Diego Section finisher and the 94th overall finisher.
“It was definitely like one of my hardest races against really fast girls, but it was a great race,” Petersen said.
“She was going against so many other great athletes around the state,” Nabor said of Petersen.
“The competition was unlike anything we experienced down here in San Diego,” Holland said. “It was a really tough competition level.”
Petersen was the 13th San Diego Section finisher. Martin finished tenth at the section meet, Scripps Ranch senior Chloe Ellermeyer was 20th in the section race and fifth among section runners at the state meet and San Dieguito junior Sage Ligotti placed 54th at the section meet and ninth among section runners in the state race.
The 2022 state meet was the first which was two weeks rather than one week after the San Diego Section meet. Training between the section and state races is one variable which could cause a difference in performance positions.
“She was very confident, well prepared. Even though we were at the Thanksgiving break she never stopped practicing,” Nabor said.
That effort was balanced with trying to keep Petersen fresh and injury-free for the state meet.
“We didn’t want her to be sore for the race,” Holland said.
The ability of an individual qualifier to train with teammates may be impaired if some of the school’s other runners have moved on to winter sports. Southwest High School in El Centro senior Julia Monreal, who was the fifth individual qualifier and the 11th overall finisher at the section meet, had a state meet time of 21:52.5 for 175th place.
San Diego Section schools such as Ramona, Julian and Mountain Empire whose practice courses have significant hills often excel on uphill portions of the Morley Field course. That advantage can be lost on relatively flatter courses such as Woodland Park.
“It was mainly just the rolling hills,” Petersen said of the state meet course. “It was a good course. It was still pretty hard. It was definitely a tough course.”
“It was a fast course and hard,” Nabor said. “It was a very fast-paced race.”
With 202 starters the possibility of being stuck behind another runner is also a factor. A runner in front of Petersen fell. Passing with so many runners is also difficult for those in the back.
“I feel like I was pretty stuck in the middle the majority of the beginning,” Petersen said. “It still worked out.”
Petersen did not start the race with a specific strategy.
“My strategy was to just kind of run my race and just keep up with the girls in front of me,” she said.
“Her first mile was at six (minutes),” Nabor said. “That was good.”
“It wasn’t the best race she ever had,” Holland said. “She just went into it with a really good mindset.”
Petersen was two-tenths of a second slower behind 145th-place finisher Elizabeth Corrigan, who is an Eagle Rock High School junior. The 147th-place runner, El Toro senior Janice Cho, had a time of 20:57.7.
“The competition was tough,” Holland said. “She handled it well. Her performance was really consistent with what she was doing down here.”
“I’m not disappointed,” Petersen said of 146th place. “It was my first time. I didn’t know what to expect, but I felt like I can do better when I go next year.”
Petersen also qualified for the 2021 state meet but was unable to participate.
“I hope to be back next year,” Petersen said. “It was a good experience overall.”
“It was a process of having her go to the state championship,” Holland said.
“Going to state, she’s already a winner,” Nabor said. “We are just very honored to take her this far.”