Laguna Beach High junior Jessie Rose does not have a lot of free time on her hands, but she always has time for something competitive.
Growing up in Colorado, Rose was an avid swimmer. Her father, Brett, was an All-American swimmer at Arizona State, and Rose could shred in the water, too.
When her family moved to Laguna Beach when she was in the fifth grade, Rose found out that the area was a hotbed for water polo, so she picked up the sport.
Rose also liked running as an activity that could help her relieve stress, and in middle school, her competitive nature got her discovered by Laguna Beach girls’ cross-country coach Steve Lalim, a physical education instructor at the school.
“Usually, everyone wouldn’t really try in those middle school races, but to me, I got so pumped up and so excited for them every week,” Rose said. “I’ve always had that desire, the edge to compete, the want to compete from a young age.
“Lalim, I think he saw that, how much I liked it, and he asked me if I wanted to join cross-[country], and I was like, ‘Sure!’”
Rose made an immediate impact for the Laguna Beach girls’ cross-country team. She finished third in the Orange Coast League finals as a freshman, and she was the runner-up in the Wave League finals as a sophomore.
Going into her junior year, water polo appeared to becoming the primary focus. Rose, who said that she is interested in playing collegiate water polo at a California school, did not come out for cross-country at the beginning of the year.
Even though the workouts had piled up between her two sports in the past, the absence of running with the team proved too much for Rose to stay away. She was back on the course the first week of October at the Palos Verdes Invitational.
In four weeks, Rose got her racing legs back. She took home the Wave League individual title, nearly breaking 18 minutes with a time of 18:00.7 at Central Park in Huntington Beach on Nov. 2.
“League really just fired me up, going out there that day and seeing what I could do,” Rose said. “It was a little sneak peek of what I could do, and it really fired me up.
“It made me really excited to go into the next weeks of CIF, and I felt confident and trusted my training. I wanted to keep pushing in training, to go into the next weeks ready to compete.”
The Wave League champion Breakers had ambitions of getting on the podium in the CIF Southern Section cross-country finals, but Rose was putting together some goals of her own.
Lalim said that Rose asked him what it would take to make it on the podium individually just days in advance of the CIF finals and the CIF State cross-country championships, respectively.
She accomplished the feat on both occasions, finishing eighth in both the Division 4 final and the Division IV state championship race. Rose’s time of 18:12.2 at the state meet shattered her personal record for a 5K course by 50 seconds.
“I think she had it in her mind that was what she wanted,” Lalim said. “She was driven to get that. It’s pretty cool how her determination really got her to where she wanted to be.”
The manner in which Rose finished the season did not shock Lalim, but he said she exceeded expectations. He credited her commitment to doing the little things, including stretching and core workouts, for her ability to excel down the stretch.
“Since day one, when she came in as a freshman, she does not take anything for granted,” Lalim added. “She takes no shortcuts. Everything is done perfectly, and she takes pride in how diligent she is for everything that she does.”
Laguna Beach reached the podium as a team in finishing second to Orange Lutheran 75-136 in the Division 4 final on Nov. 23 at the Riverside City Cross-Country Course. The Breakers were led by the trio of senior Morgan Falkowski (fifth, 18:07.9), Rose (eighth, 18:11.9) and freshman Nina Rogers (10th, 18:21.1).
“It was like one of our goals right there was being met,” Falkowski said of running in a pack with her teammates up front. “It was really nice to be healthy and strong, and to be able to lead my team. Nina and Jessie have also been able to lead our team. We sort of have been trading it off, but all trusting each other to do our best.”
Competition never stops for Rose, who returned to the pool right after the state meet. She recorded a hat-trick for the Laguna Beach girls’ water polo team in an 18-10 win over Studio City Harvard-Westlake on Friday.
Born: Jan. 19, 2003
Hometown: Laguna Beach
Height: 5 feet 6
Weight: 126 pounds
Coach: Steve Lalim
Favorite food: Watermelon
Favorite movie: “Pitch Perfect”
Favorite athletic moment: Making it to the CIF State cross-country championships was an enjoyable experience for Rose. She said the overall environment at Woodward Park was positive because teams make it their goal to advance to the state meet at the beginning of the year.
Week in review: Rose finished eighth in the girls’ Division IV race of the CIF State cross-country championships on Nov. 30 at Woodward Park in Fresno. Her time of 18:12.2 set a personal record for a 5K course.
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