Girls cross country win second state title
In a familiar pattern, Claremont High School’s girls varsity cross country passed over the finish line in a tight pack, earning a Division 2 team title at the CIF California State Cross Country Championship on Saturday at Woodward Park in Fresno.
This is the second consecutive state title for the girls, who had a storybook season including an undefeated Palomares League record, winning CHS’ Cool Breeze Invitational, winning the Bob Firman Invitational in Idaho, and winning the CIF Southern Section title.
The Wolfpack runners had a 36-second split, netting 69 points and easily defeating Saugus at 100 points and Granada at 102 points.
Junior Sydney Hwang once again led the pace with a 10th place finish at 18:12. She was followed by Tess Rounds, 12th place at 18:18; Azalea Segura-Mora, 19th at 18:36; Kalinda Reynolds, 23rd at 18:39; Angela Gushue, 32nd at 18:48; Alyssa Cantrell, 33rd at 18:48 and Sarah Ayala 70th at 19:28.2.
The girls have formed a very strong bond which helps keep them winning. If one person has an off day, another is there to fill the gap. Such was the case on Saturday, when the final three CHS runners set personal records even when the top three did not.
“Our strength came from the back,” commented Assistant Coach Jose Ancona.
“It wasn’t my best time, certainly,” said Segura-Mora. “But that is why it helps to have a team to back you up. There is no hierarchy, we encourage each other to pass.”
For seniors like Rounds and Cantrell, the race was very likely the last time they would be part of the team.
“I was crying on the starting line thinking ‘This is my last time in this jersey,’” Rounds said. “It was make or break. I knew I had to give everything I had.”
The “everything” paid off, as the girls team earned an at-large bid to compete at the Nike Cross Nationals championship meet this Saturday in Portland, Oregon. The meet features 22 seven-runner clubs, plus 45 individuals including the best high school runners in the nation.
Because it is a non-CIF event, the Pack will compete as the Claremont XC Club against teams from eight regions in the highly competitive meet, which will crown a national champion for the 14th time.
“I’m really excited about going. It’s not just icing on the cake, we are going to compete and do our best,” said Coach Bill Reeves.
Coach Reeves also told his runners not to despair if they are far back in the pack because of the large number of individual entrants. “You could be in 50th place, but still be high in the team ranking, so don’t give up and start jogging,” he said.
The meet will be held at Glendoveer Golf Course, a grassy and hilly 3.1 mile course. Rain is forecast for Saturday, which will add another challenge to the difficult race.
A live webcast, at cdn.runnerspace/nxnlive, for NXN begins at 9:30 a.m., with the boys’ race at 10:05 a.m., and the girls’ race, with CHS competing, starting at 11:35 a.m.
In the most recent national rankings, Claremont was ranked eighth in the nation by both the Dyestat National Girls High School Team rankings and MileSplit USA Flo50 Girls Team Rankings, according to the team.
The Claremont boys team also did very well at the state meet, claiming a fourth place finish, just one spot off the podium.
Claremont’s scoring order was 19-34-35-36-37, netting 161 points. CHS came in behind team title winner St. Francis at 57 points, Dublin at 111, and Saugus at 141, but ahead of 19 other squads.
Junior Ryan Cowgill placed 29th overall with a time of 16:00 over the championship course to lead the Wolfpack. The top five were rounded out by a close-finishing pack of Jeremiah Alarcon, 46th at 16:13; A.J. Reyes, 47th at 16:14; Vicente Huerta, 50th at 16:16; and Adam Trafecanty, 51st at 16:17. Daniel Scheider and Blake Bertrand ran in the non-scoring sixth and seventh positions for CHS.