Girls 5A II
Lacey Kalinen (pictured right) joined the Pinnacle Cross Country team two weeks before her first meet at the George Young Invitational. At the last minute her coach decided to put her in the varsity race. She finished 21st in the race and first for Pinnacle.
But where did she come from?
"At the beginning of the school year we do fun games and activities in P.E. classes," said Pinnacle Cross Country Coach Bob Moreti, who is also a P.E. teacher at the High School. "We combined P.E. classes and Lacey was in another teachers class. When she took off running and I saw her running mechanics, I approached her and told her she might want to consider running." Lacey informed Coach Moreti she was already on a year round competitive softball team. And she loved it. However, that night Lacey talked it over with her parents and decided to join the team.
Two weeks before the State Meet Lacey won the Paradise Valley District Meet. The following week she won the Pima Regionals. "Each week she got stronger and stronger, she is no where near her potentional." said Moreti.
At the 5A II State Meet Lacey Kalinen was in the lead the entire race. "I started out at my normal pace and no one was really around me," said Kalinen. "I tried to push myself trying to do my best." Senior Stephanie Ledgerwood from Kofa was 8 seconds behind Kalinen at the mile mark. Defending State Champion sophomore Sarah Miville from Ironwood Ridge was a few seconds behind Ledgerwood and a step in front of Marana Mountain View's Kerri Lenihan (So.) Kalinen kept extending her lead and finished 26 seconds ahead of second place Ledgerwood. Kenihan finished 3rd with Miville and Allison Crawford (Jr, Ironwood Ridge) placing 4th and 5th.
Lacey's parents were very excited about her win at the State Meet, "My mom cried and my dad was really happy," said Kalinen. "We are so new to this proces," said Lacy's mom Cheryl. "We just didn't know what to expect. I never realized how much of a team sport cross country is," she continued. "The runners really support and encourage each other and Coach Moreti really makes it fun for the kids. He is always encouraging and makes it very interesting."
Kalinen will not be able to run track in the spring because Softball will be in full swing (no pun intended) but if she could work it out she would love to do both. Her softball coaches were very supportive of her decision to run cross county. "They encourage kids to do other sports," said Lacey. "They are really supportive and helped me work it out." Lacey's Mom laughs when remembering a day in the life of her softball player/cross country runner daughter. "Lacey jumped right into the sport (of running) while still playing softball," said Cheryl. "She would run 8 miles for cross country in the morning, go to school, go to softball practice after school and sometimes be up unill midnight doing homework."
And how did Lacey enjoy her first cross country season? "I like to run and at first I joined the cross country team to stay in shape and thought it might be a good experience. Now I am looking forward to next season."
The Pinnacle team took second place in the team standings with 60 points. Ironwood Ridge (pictured right) won the State Title with 38 points placing four of their top runners in the top ten. The scoring runners were; Milville in 4th; Crawford in 5th; senior Kat Howard in 6th; sophomore Lauren Cooper in 9th and sophomore Sam Strange in 14th.
Girls 4A II
Earlier in the day the 4A division II race was led by sophomore Aeoleone Bristow (pictured far left in red) from Rio Rico and freshman Taylor de Laveaga from Perry. At the one mile mark the two runners were side by side with two Catalina seniors Melanie McGrath and Magda Mankel following close behind. Approaching two miles, Bristow increased her lead by ten seconds over second place de Laveaga. Sinagua senior Alex Myers (pictured left in blue) moved up alongside de Laveaga with Latrisha Blackstar (Jr, Page) and McGrath on their heels.
Bristow kept her ten second lead as she crossed the finish line. Myers stayed on pace to finish second with Blackstar in third and de Laveaga finishing fourth. McGrath rounded out the top five.
"I was ahead of Taylor (de Laveaga) at the bowl (2 mile mark)," said Bristow after her race. "And I knew I was going to get competition from Latrisha Blackstar, Chloe Philips and Alex Myers."
While waiting for the team results, Bristow talked about her team and her coaches. "Our team is great," she said. "Our team is smaller than it was last year but I think it is a very good quality team, we are all very close teammates."
Aeoleane's dad, Roger Bristow is also one of her coaches. "She started going to practice with me and running since she was four years old," said Bristow. "She use to teach kids sprint drills on the playground." As her father and her coach, Bristow understands how tough it can be for his daughter. "She is probably in a pretty tough spot sometimes but she's a good sport." Aeoleone laughs about it, "My dad and Coach Chavez......they are both my dads. We couldn't have a better team or coaching staff."
Coach Bristow agrees about the team, "The whole team.....they're a great bunch of girls and Aeoleone has been their leader running wise all season....this is something she has been working for since June. I think she ran a great race."
Rio Rico took third place with 84 points behind Flagstaff (pictured right) (74 points) and Page (82 points). The State Champion Flagstaff team was led by sophomore Kadra Bergman who took 10th; sophomore Kimmi Allen who placed 12th; senior Chloe Phillips in 14th; senior Tereza Chykova in 18th and junior Taryn Treadway.
One of the surprises of the day was Alex Myers, a senior from Sinagua who took second behind Bristow in the 4A II race. Last cross country season (2007) Myers finished 22nd in the the regional meet and did not qualify for the State Meet. This year her road to the State Meet was very different. She started her season finishing 5th at Peaks, 4th at Four Corners, 2nd at Mingus Invitational, 2nd at Jack Boehle Memorial Invite and 1st at the Grand Canyon Region. Myers credits her recent success to her supportive family and teammates and to her coach Bo Reed. "He does so much for us," said Myers. "A big thing for me has been the encouragement and just the belief that he has in me, it is way bigger than I ever had for myself."