Ava Seccuro co-editor-in-chief
Two members of the varsity cross country team, junior Quinn Harris and freshman Danielle Hollander qualified to race in the CIF Prelims race which took place last Saturday at the Riverside City Cross Country Course. Only Hollander, however, placed among the top 15 in her heat and division to qualify for the CIF-SS Finals race.
The race was three miles for both of the runners, comprised of two heats and had to be done in 90-degree heat, Harris said. Among the 130 people there, only the top 15 per division, out of a total of four present at the race, per gender could qualify for the CIF-SS Finals race.
Although only one of the runners made it to the next stage, head coach Katrina Smith hopes that the goal that she set prior to the race will still apply for the upcoming meets.
“One [goal] was that they run to the best of their ability and be confident in themselves to do that. When you’re going to a championship event, a lot of times your mentality shifts and you put a lot of pressure on yourself,” Smith said. “What I wanted them to do was to understand that yes, it’s important but it’s another type of meet. Treat it as they always have, but remember the training they’ve always done, and they’ll come out on top.”
Despite Harris not fulfilling his own goal of making it to state, Smith said he came out of the race with a “positive attitude.” Harris said that he isn’t quite sure what happened during the race, but that a series of injuries including a broken toe and a strained achilles heel at the Woodbridge meet caused him not only to be out for five weeks, but to compensate for his injuries he, “bump[ed] up the mileage” to around 40 miles per week.
This training regimine, although resulting in a personal record (PR) of 15:25, only 10 seconds more than his initial goal, was “too much” in the end, Harris said. Smith, however, suspected that the “enormity” of the race was what got to him.
“I think I just bumped up the mileage a little [too much]. I was coming off an injury; my mindset was just ‘I really need to get ready for CIF’ and I just PR’ed two weeks before CIF so I was feeling good,” Harris said.
The outcome wasn’t all bad for Harris. As he wants to attain a 1:54 in the 800 meter and a 4:20 in the mile for track and field season, he called this race “motivation.”
“In the moment I was pretty bummed, but it’s really just motivation for me to do good in track because I need a redemption season from this. I really want to work hard and hopefully go to state,” Harris said.
Although the race served as motivation for the upcoming season for Harris, for Hollander, the race gave her a different type of motivation.
This race was not merely Hollander’s first time at a CIF meet for cross country, but her first time running cross country in general. The freshman has been training with her twin brother since the summer with the team, but going to the state races was never a goal until now.
“I want to place well and keep moving on to state. I never really started running cross country; I got started because I wanted to be in shape for soccer season,” Hollander said. “Once I started, I started to love the sport. So, once I started running [state became a goal].”
Smith is “very proud” of Hollander and said her greatest strength at this race was her ability to adapt to her situation and execute the skills she learned in practice.
Hollander isn’t fazed by her age compared to her competition either.
“Once you’re on the line, no one really cares how old you are. Once you’re running, no one knows who you are so it just matters how hard you trained,” she said.
For the upcoming cross country season and even this year’s track season, Smith reflects on how different the preparations for this race have been in comparison to past years.
“Compared to [Quinn’s} previous experiences in cross country, it’s a definite shift from running through the neighborhood without any type of tracking, to actually having very precise tracking systems to follow your progress,” she said. “That’s never existed at Beverly Hills High School [until now.]”
The CIF-SS Finals race will take place on Saturday Nov. 23 at 7:45 a.m. at the Riverside City Cross Country Course.