Year in Review


Corona del Mar was the favorite going into the 1999 girls’ cross-country season, with Woodbridge the contender and Foothill the darkhorse. And each emerged on the same plateau at the state championships in Fresno last month.

Corona del Mar began the season looking like the strongest of the three. The Sea Kings won team titles at the Laguna Hills, Sunny Hills and Stanford invitationals, then defended their No. 1 ranking at the county championships.

Corona del Mar moved to Division I at the Mt. SAC Invitational a week later, where it suffered its only loss of the season to Division III state champion San Lorenzo Valley in the team sweepstakes race.


The Sea Kings then mowed through Ojai Nordhoff at both the Southern Section and state Division IV championships.

Woodbridge hovered around fourth or fifth in the Southern Section Division I polls for most of the season, but after sweeping the top four spots in their heat at the section preliminaries, the Warriors were through being overlooked. The following week Woodbridge proved it had plenty left in its tank, winning the section title by 36 points and the state title by 34.

Foothill began the season unranked but moved into the limelight by winning its division at the Stanford Invitational. It took over the top spot in the rankings and then won state and Southern Section titles.

First Team

Christine Eckstaedt

El Modena,


Eckstaedt wasn’t even among the top two runners at the Century League finals a month ago, but she was obviously holding something back. She capped her season with a seventh-place finish at the Division II state finals (18:34), producing the third-best time among county runners that day. Eckstaedt, who hopes to run at Cornell next year, first showed signs of a tremendous peak at the Southern Section preliminaries, where she broke the school record on the Mt. SAC course and won her heat with the fourth-best qualifying time (18:28) in her division. Eckstaedt then improved that record by nine seconds while finishing third in the section finals a week later. Eckstaedt’s season also included a victory at the Golden Gate Invitational in September.

Lori Mann

Santa Margarita,


Mann bounced back from an injury-filled track and field season to produce results comparable to those of her sensational sophomore season, when she finished second in the Division II state finals and was a shoo-in for first-team all-county. Mann’s season culminated with a fifth-place finish in the same race 10 days ago, which was also the fifth-best time among county runners and only 18 seconds off her 1998 pace. Mann also finished fifth at the section finals and second to Newport Harbor’s Amber Steen in the sweepstakes race at the county championships. Mann did hold off Steen at the Stanford and Laguna Hills invitationals and ran a better time in a separate race at the Mt. SAC Invitational, which also proved to be the fastest time among county runners.

Liz Morse

Corona del Mar,


Morse joins Lori Mann as the only returners to the first team. Morse set a course record at the Sunny Hills Invitational, then came from behind in the last 100 yards and won the Division IV race at the Stanford Invitational. Morse, who finished third in the state in the 800 meters last spring, finished fourth at the county championships to help Corona del Mar win the team title by 14 points over Woodbridge, the eventual Division I state champion. After a brief lapse in late October, Morse came back to finish second at the Southern Section Division IV finals, helping the Sea Kings to the team title. Morse, who hopes to run for Princeton next year, capped off her season with a 13th-place at state, which helped Corona del Mar to its first state title since 1992.


Jenny Sears

Mater Dei,


While the performance charts for some or her competitors had as many ups and downs as an electrocardiogram, Sears was a model of consistency. The Fountain Valley resident had the county’s fourth-fastest time at each of the three key meets: the Orange County Championships, the Southern Section finals and the state finals. Sears, a second-team selection last season after finishing third in the Southern Section Division II finals and 16th at state, moved up to Division I this season, where she took fifth at the section finals and ninth at state. Sears also finished fifth in the Division I race at the Stanford Invitational, the top time among county runners at the meet.

Amber Steen

Newport Harbor,


Probably the biggest letdown for fans this season was Steen and Fountain Valley’s Julie Allen never running on the same course at the same time, but there’s always next year. Steen’s patented late kick pulled the rug out from under many competitors down the stretch. In the Division II finals, she trailed Agoura’s Laura Jakosky until the last incline leading to the finish line, then switched gears and defeated the defending champion despite taking a few elbows during the pass. Steen’s other big victory came in the sweepstakes races at the Orange County Championships, where she moved from third to first with about 200 meters remaining. Steen also finished fifth at the Division II state finals, came in seventh in the individual sweepstakes race at the Mt. San Antonio College Invitational and won a Sea View League title.

Laura Strachan



Strachan was the top runner in every major race for the Knights, including a ninth-place finish in the Division II state finals, which helped Foothill defeat Santa Margarita by three points for its first state cross-country title. A week earlier, Strachan finished eighth to lead the Knights over Santa Margarita for their first section title since 1990. Strachan’s other results include a seventh-place finish in her division at the Stanford Invitational, which helped Foothill topple Santa Margarita, 92-119, and take over the top spot in the state poll. Strachan also finished fifth in the sweepstakes race at the county championships, won a Century League title and helped end El Modena’s streak of 33 consecutive dual-meet victories.

Second Team

Meghan Bellotti

School: Woodbridge; Year: Sophomore

Notable: Finished 16th at Division I state finals and ninth in Southern Section.

Kristen Berglas

School: Woodbridge; Year: Freshman

Notable: Finished 12th at Division I state finals and eighth in Southern Section.

Jenny Cummins

School: Corona del Mar; Year: Junior

Notable: Finished 12th at Division IV state finals and fifth in Southern Section.

Katie Quinlan

School: Corona del Mar; Year: Junior

Notable: Finished fifth at Division IV state finals and seventh in Southern Section.

Nicole Scott

School: Woodbridge; Year: Senior

Notable: Finished fourth at Southern Section Division I finals.

Katie Strachan

School: Foothill; Year: Freshman

Notable: Finished 14th at Division II state finals, eighth at county championships.

Jenny Thune

School: Brea Olinda; Year: Junior

Notable: Finished 17th at Division II state finals and fourth in Southern Section.