Audrey Reed and Emily Harris did Morgan Hill proud in the Blossom Valley Athletic League Cross Country Championships on Oct. 29 at Crystal Spring in Belmont, finishing 1-2 to spearhead their respective teams to berths in the Central Coast Section Championships on Saturday.
Reed, a Live Oak High sophomore, won the individual league title with a time of 18 minutes, 55.1 seconds, with Harris—a Sobrato High senior—coming in second in 19:02 over the famed 2.95-mile Crystal Springs course. Even though neither runner set a personal-record (PR) at the course, they’re both feeling strong entering the biggest race of the season.
Plenty of storylines are at play, with Sobrato and Live Oak aiming to qualify to the CIF State Championships as a team. if that doesn’t happen, Reed, Harris and Sobrato sophomore Jessica Faulk should be in the running for individual state berths. The sophomore standout Reed led a solid Acorns’ contingent that included freshman Abby Paulson, who was the team’s No. 2 scoring runner, followed by junior Gillian McCaw, senior Jenna Watson, and junior Aly Conlan.
Harris also had strong team support, with sophomore Jessica Faulk, senior Allie Wells, junior Alyssa Bruno and senior Isabella Fuegmann accounting for the team’s top five scoring runners. Reed feels a PR at Crystal Springs is a definite possibility. Reed, who finished in third place in the CCS Championships last year, won’t be alone this time around since Live Oak qualified as a team after barely missing out on a spot last year.
“All the girls are still practicing, and that is great to see,” Reed said. “It’s nice to win league this year because I got third last year.”
Reed took control of the race with about a mile to go on the final hill of the course. It’s no coincidence Reed and Harris are both strong on the hills, as cross country success demands a strong runner who not only can scale the hills but accelerate on the downhill portion of them as well.
Harris felt strong all the way to the end, and finished with a negative split (running faster in the first half of a race than the last half).
“I was really excited for the finish and time,” she said. “But I felt like I could’ve pushed a little more, but I didn’t want to take out that first mile too fast. I felt I had a pretty good kick at the end, and passed a couple of people with 800 and 400 meters to go.”
Slowly but surely, Harris seems to have regained the form of her freshman and sophomore years, when she posted her fastest times. The senior battled injuries last season, but she’s learned a lot over the years and has matured to the point where she has a great outlook even in adverse circumstances.
“Even if I got a little slower from my freshman season, I still have to be proud that I stuck through it and always showed up and gave my best,” she said.
In running a 19:02 in the league finals at Crystal Springs, Harris showed she might have at least one more PR in her before her high school career ends. Harris went 18:54 in the BVAL Finals as a sophomore and two weeks later went 18:59.5 in the CCS Championships. Harris’ 19:02 could be a harbinger for an excellent CCS result.
“I’m very confident on the hilly courses because I’m able to keep my pace and not lose too much time on the hills,” she said.
For the last two years, Sobrato has finished just a couple of spots away from advancing to the state meet. Harris would love nothing more than for the Bulldogs to get the job done in her final go-around.
“We hope we can keep the momentum and confidence for CCS because we really want to qualify as a team,” Harris said. “I think if we all come together and run the way we’re capable of, it is a definite possibility.”