This past Saturday, on November 6th, 2021, Mira Loma’s Cross Country team competed in the Sac-Joaquin Subsections. Of the 140+ teams and 1000+ runners from across NorCal, only the top 10 teams and top 25 individuals in each division advanced to Sections.
Coming into the competition, this race was one of the last opportunities for senior Dean McLane to post a school record. Additionally, a strong girls’ team led by juniors Clara Nordahl and Avery Mannion had their eyes set on a team qualification to sections—something that had not happened in over thirty years.
With the stakes high, the team arrived at Angels Camp, home of the famous Calaveras jumping frog contest, ready to compete.
The course itself was not an easy one. Three miles of intense uphills followed by steep, winding downhills gave runners little time to catch their breath. An inevitable dust cloud formed at the start line as each runner attempted to get ahead in the quickly narrowing course.
When the dust settled, the team had achieved a slew of outstanding accomplishments. On the Boys’ side, all four Senior runners posted course personal records. With a 2nd place finish in a time of 16:18.6, Dean McLane broke the previous school course record by an incredible 44 seconds.
The Boys placed 11th place overall, barely missing out on a trip to sections. Despite this, they were in good spirits after the race and proud of Dean’s success throughout the season. Head Coach Paul Ioanidis said, “Although they came up just short, I’m so proud of their effort because each of them ran to their best ability. Individually, Dean has been focused and motivated to return to the CIF State Championship. His 2nd place finish and school course personal record at Sub Sections is an indication of his fitness level.” Dean attributes the team’s success to “[good luck] bracelets made by the team’s little sister, Kylie,” and “incredible leadership” by Coach Paul and Coach Smith.
On the Girls’ side, Avery Mannion placed 20th overall and crossed the finish line in 20:49.8. Fellow classmate Clara Nordahl came right after in 21st with a time of 21:01.8. Their teammate Olivia Darrah (’24) placed 41st with a time of 22:47.7. They now hold the 3rd, 4th, and 8th fastest times for the 3-mile distance in the school record. Their strong performances led to a historic 6th place team finish. For the first time in over thirty years, the girl’s varsity team advanced to sections.
Immediately after news came of the team’s performance, Olivia said, between celebratory hugs and cheers, “I’m really honored and everyone on the team deserves it. We’ve worked hard and I’m proud of us for everything we’ve done this year”.
During a post-race celebration with the team at Mike’s Pizza (a mandatory cross country tradition), Coach Paul commented regarding the teams’ success, “The girls selected to the varsity team understand they are striving to achieve team goals; they must be fully committed to running for each other, for the name on the front of the uniform… They are truly a team in every sense of the word, committed to each other, and I believe that is a key element to what motivates them.”
Aside from those advancing to sections, this meet marked a bittersweet end to the cross country season for most. After a shortened season filled with uncertainty due to the Coronavirus pandemic, many runners were just glad to finally be back together. As Avery said after qualifying, “I am most proud that we could extend the season together.”
With their focus now on advancing to states, Dean and the Varsity Girls’ team will be competing this Saturday, November 13th, 2021, in the Sac-Joaquin Sections at Willow Hills Reservoir. Coach Paul is hopeful about the teams’ potential success stating that “the girls are certainly capable of improving their 6th place ranking and Dean has put himself in position to win the Section Meet.” The top 3 teams and top 10 individual finishers at this race will advance to the State competition.
Good luck Matadors!