Lassen High runners withstand rain at state championships
Battling a driving rainstorm and muddy conditions, Lassen High School's cross country runners turned in exceptional performances at the California Cross Country High School Championships Saturday, Nov. 24 at Woodward Park in Fresno. Lassen junior Heidi Ard started the race aggressively, sprinting into the front pack in the first 300 yards. Then, the field of 145 settled into place with Ard dropping back into 70th place.
It was a race that running 10 seconds slower after three miles put a runner at least 10 places back.
Ard nearly matched her time in last year's state meet, but finished 15 seconds behind in sloppy, windy conditions. She took 70th with a time of 20:57 in Division IV.
The rain came down hard before the start of the boys' race. From there, the course got even wetter.
Lassen's Mike Duffy and Brandon Larson "loved" the weather conditions and attacked the opening mile.
Duffy especially had a good start, despite falling at the 3/4-mile point and sliding 10 feet before coming up bloody. He recovered though and came up 25th in the first mile.
Larson was seven seconds behind.
The course turned into a pit of mud, yet Duffy posted an impressive time of 10:55 after two miles.
While Laron's legs began to cramp up and fell far behind in the second mile, Duffy remained steady.
Duffy had a strong final mile and sprint into a muddy finish. He placed 36th with a time of 17:06.
Larson settled for a 140th-finish out of 141 runners.
"As a sophomore, Brandon learned plenty about the competition at the state meet," Lassen coach Jim Reichle said. "He'll do better the next time around."
The runners had varied comments after the race.
"I started fast, but it felt comfortable. I was aggressive and had a good race," Ard said.
Duffy said, "I loved the rain and mud. It was crazy when I fell, but it just made me mad and I wanted to run even harder. It was a great race."
"I felt great during the first mile and during the hills of the second mile. But I cramped up in my legs and sides, slowing me down toward the end," Larson said.
Reichle said he is encouraged about next year's team.
"Heidi had some trouble toward the end of the year, but I expect her to be strong as a senior. She's committed and will be back," Reichle said.
"Brandon got a taste of what it's like at the state meet and I he'll use that to improve. He's got a lot of potential."