Tanja Brix didn’t know what to expect when she and her family moved from Copenhagen to Irvine six years ago.
Brix was only 8 at the time, and it didn’t take Brix long to adjust to life in the United States, despite a few minor differences.
“The candy’s not the same here,” she said. “It’s more artificial or something. Other than that, everything’s fine.”
Today, Brix, a freshman at University High School, is adjusting to another change, the transition from age-group to high-school running.
For Brix, the switch was easy.
Last Saturday, Brix won her third cross-country race this season, recording the fastest girls’ time of the day at the Costa Mesa Invitational.
Brix, The Times’ athlete of the week, finished the 3-mile race in 17 minutes 32.6 seconds, holding off Natalie Adam of Huntington Beach to win the large-school division.
This season, Brix has won three of the four races she has entered, including the Laguna Hills Invitational and a tri-meet against Newport Harbor and Corona del Mar.
Her only loss came at the Woodbridge Invitational--her first high-school race, and her first race at 3 miles. She placed fifth among 125 runners.
Is Brix surprised at her instant success in high school?
“Yeah, I thought a lot of the races would be harder (to win),” she said. “I thought there’d be at least two or three people up there (challenging) me.”
Brix started running five years ago with her father, Bjarne. Since then, she has run for two age-group clubs--the Blue Angels (where Mary Decker Slaney got her start), and Time Machine USA.
In 14-and-under competition last year, Brix won state and regional titles in cross-country, and was the Southern California champion at 3,000 meters (10:19).
Brix says her top two goals this season are winning the Sea View League title and breaking the school’s 6-year-old record for 3 miles, 17:27. That record is held by Polly Plumer, who went on to become a 3-time All-American at UCLA.
Some say Brix has the potential to surpass Plumer’s achievements. Brix said that would be nice, though right now, she’s just concentrating on gradual improvement and having fun.
“I’ve tried other sports, but I’ve always come back to running,” Brix said. “It’s the most challenging. I tried soccer, but I got stepped on. I tried softball, but it’s boring because you’re always on a diamond. In running, you get to travel and see lots of things.”
Brix, who has traveled to Arizona, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Washington for meets, says she hopes to compete not only in the United States, but for the United States.
“When I turn 18, I want to become a (U.S.) citizen,” she said. “And some day, I hope to represent the U.S. in the Olympics. That’s my goal, anyway.”
Laura Doering tied her own course record Thursday in leading Villa Park to a 20-35 victory over Santa Ana at Eisenhower Park in Orange. Doering, a senior, finished the rolling 3-mile course in 17:58.
Marini Matsumoto swept her sets, 6-0, 6-0, 6-0, to lead Kennedy to a 14-4 victory over Santiago Thursday. Matsumoto is 18-0 this season.
Position: Cross-country runner.
Height, Class: 5-3, Freshman.
Last Week: Brix won the large- schools division of the Costa Mesa Invitational Saturday. Brix finished the 3-mile race in 17:32.6, the fastest girls’ time of the day.
Season: Brix has won three of the four races she has entered, including the Laguna Hills Invitational and a tri-meet against Newport Harbor and Corona del Mar.