The JSerra Girls’ cross country team earned a special place in the school’s history books Saturday morning.
The Running Lions once again outran the competition, this time earning a state title – the first such championship in JSerra’s eight-year history. They are also the school’s first athletic team to win the trifecta of Trinity League, CIF and State titles in a single season.
“Race conditions were brutally cold,” coach Marty Dugard said hours after the victory at Woodward Park in Fresno. “But the girls got the job done. Very very proud of all my girls.”
Senior Katherine Delaney finished with Orange County’s best individual time and was the county’s only runner to finish sub-18 minutes (17:48). But it was the performance of the entire team that led to the victory.
“I reminded the girls that we needed to take charge of the race early,” Dugard told the Orange County Register. “Our No. 2-No.5 runners really picked up the pace in the last mile to help get the win for us.”
Principal Tom Waszak called their accomplishment “the most successful season of any sport in school history.”
“Cross country is a unique blend of individual and team talent,” he said. “Delany (all-state, all-CIF, all league) and Hannah Hunsaker (all-CIF, all league) led the team with the fastest times but the team championship was won by the 3rd through 5th place finishers and their teammates who pushed them at practice every day – Colby Lindholm (all league), Ashley and Caitlin Nilssen, Leah Vitrano, Allison Manning, Jessica McFadden, and Kayla Selinski. “
At last week’s CIF championships, all five scoring runners finished in the top 20. At State, they finished in the top 50.
The Lions were last year’s Division 4 runners-up.