Milena Glusac believes that hard work enabled her to earn the No. 1 singles position on the Fallbrook High tennis team the last three years.
Glusac is hoping that her work ethic will also result in her becoming the country's No. 1 high school cross-country runner, which she can do in the Kinney national meet Saturday at Balboa Park in San Diego.
Glusac is undefeated in cross-country this season. The 5-foot-5, 84-pound junior set a meet record in winning the state Division I title two weeks ago and came within two seconds of the all-time record at Mt. San Antonio College in October.
She won the Western Regional title at Fresno, the qualifying meet for Saturday's race, in 17 minutes 11 seconds for 5,000 meters, coming within four seconds of the Woodward Park course record.
Heidi Van Borkulo of Seattle Blanchet, the Washington state champion, finished 12 seconds behind--the closest any runner has been to Glusac this season.
"I like both (tennis and cross-country) equally, and I couldn't think about dropping either," said Glusac, who finished seventh at last year's meet after running her cross-country workouts before tennis matches.
"(But) it's a lot easier since tennis ended (last month). The (Kinney) meet is such a good experience that it gave me incentive to run and make it back."
The top eight finishers in the West, South, Northeast and Midwest qualified for the national meet.
Liz Mueller of Waterford High in Connecticut, the winner of the Northeast Regional, and Amanda White of Dulaney High in Cockeysville, Md., who finished third in the national run last season, are expected to be Glusac's top challengers.
Margarito Casillas of Glendale Hoover, Jeff Wilson of Newbury Park and Ryan Wilson of Agoura, the top three finishers at the Western Regional, could challenge Jama Bile, the younger brother of Abdi Bile, the 1987 world champion at 1,500 meters for Somalia.
Bile, who attends Ft. Union Military Academy in Fairfax, Va., finished second in the Southern Regional despite having lost a shoe at the start of the race.
The meet will begin at 10 a.m. with the girls' race, followed by the boys' race at 10:40. . . . Shelley Taylor of Huntington Beach Edison, Carrie Garritson of Fullerton Sunny Hills and Maribella Aparicio of Fillmore are the other Californians on the West team. . . . Daniel Das Neves of La Mesa Helix and Angel Martinez of San Gabriel qualified for the boys. . . . California boys have won six times since the first meet in 1979. . . . The West boys will be seeking their third consecutive team title.