With an eye toward two in a row and a chance to add to a teeming trophy case, the Palos Verdes girls cross-country team heads to Fresno this weekend for the state championships.
The championship Saturday at Woodward Park in Fresno comes on the heels of the Sea Kings’ victory in the CIF 4-A finals last weekend at Mt. San Antonio College and affords Palos Verdes the chance for a second straight state title. The Sea Kings captured last year’s inaugural event and are again favored to bring home the cup.
“If we run like we are capable of running, we’ll be state champs again,” said Palos Verdes Coach Joe Kelly.
The Sea Kings field a strong squad with an effective mix of depth, experience and youthful enthusiasm. The team, consisting of three seniors, three sophomores and a freshman, has been Division I’s top-rated squad throughout the season.
Last weekend at Mt. Sac, senior Ashley Black (18:12) finished second to Santa Barbara’s Jamie Park (17:56), and Sea King freshman Maya Muneno was third with a time of 18:30. Palos Verdes placed four runners in the top 24 with Traci Goodrich (10th) and Karen Zareski (24th) rounding out the finishers.
Two of Palos Verdes’ top runners--seniors Lauri Lucas and Dana Sublett--missed the race with injuries, but Kelly needed only to look to his bench for someone to step in.
“With some of the injuries that we’ve had, some of our young runners really picked up the slack,” he said.
The state championship will also provide yet another forum for Black and Park, who have dueled for Southland cross-country supremacy for two years. In 1987, as well as this year, Park and Black finished 1-2 for the individual title.