During the high school track and field season it has become a tradition for Fallbrook High School and Ramona High School to compete against each other in a non-league dual meet. After this year’s CIF San Diego Section cross-country meet Nov. 17 at Morley Field in San Diego, Fallbrook High School girls cross-country and girls track and field head coach Troy Hamlin may be hoping for an improvement-oriented similarity with Ramona’s girls running program.
“We’ve got to get a lot better for next year,” Hamlin said.
This year’s Ramona girls cross-country team was 3-2 in Valley League dual meets, took second place in the league meet while placing five Bulldog girls on the all-league teams, and finished 11th among the 19 Division II schools at the CIF section meet. Last year Ramona was winless in Palomar League meets and finished last at the league meet but placed 13th among the 20 Division II schools at the section meet. This year Fallbrook lost all five Avocado West League dual meets and finished sixth among six teams at the league meet while taking 13th place among the 21 Division I teams in the section meet.
“Given how the team has been running for the course of the season, I’ll take it. It’s okay,” Hamlin said.
“We ran well given where we’re at,” Hamlin said. “We weren’t quite as good as we were the year before, but we were representative for where we’re at.”
The 2011 Fallbrook squad placed eighth at the CIF meet, and Fallbrook’s top finisher was Ciera Villegas, whose time of 17:52 on the 2.75-mile course placed 33rd among the 146 girls last year. This year Villegas was also Fallbrook’s top finisher, but the senior’s time of 18:08 in her final high school cross-country race gave her 41st place among 145 runners. “Ciera did the best she could. Ciera is not racing as well as she did as a junior,” Hamlin said.
“She’s really the team leader at this point. She’s the only one on this team that all season long ran consistently well,” Hamlin said. “She’s just not quite on the level of the top runners in the county.”
Sophomore Kiera Donoghue was Fallbrook’s second finisher and the 76th overall finisher at 19:00 in her first CIF section meet. “She did a really nice job,” Hamlin said.
“She did a really good job of being patient in the race. She didn’t go out too hard and she just let it unfold ahead of her,” Hamlin said. “The temptation is to go out way too hard and she was able to not do that, to hold back and run a more even balanced race.”
Donoghue won the junior varsity race in Fallbrook’s first dual meet of the year Sept. 28 but raced with the varsity for the final two dual meets of the season, finishing fifth and fourth among Fallbrook runners in those varsity races. She was Fallbrook’s fourth finisher at the Avocado West League meet Nov. 10, where her time on the 2.75-mile Guajome Park course was 19:23.
The Mount Carmel/Movin’ Shoes Cross-Country Invitational meet in September at Morley Field normally uses a 2.75-mile course, but due to this year’s heat and a compromise between meet officials and San Diego Fire Department officials who threatened to shut the meet down, the freshmen and sophomore girls ran a 2.2-mile course with the hill taken out. (The junior and senior girls ran earlier in the day on the full 2.75-mile course.) Donoghue took 17:11 for her 2.2 miles Sept. 15.
Sophomore Emma Workman finished 85th in this year’s race with a time of 19:11. She had completed the course in 19:06 last year as a freshman, which gave her 94th place overall and sixth among Fallbrook runners.
Fallbrook’s fourth finisher and the race’s 89th finisher was junior Rosanne Lopez, who had a time of 19:22. In 2011, Lopez’s time of 18:03 placed 43rd overall and third among Fallbrook runners, but this year she was hampered by a foot injury. “I hope that she comes back with a vengeance with something to prove,” Hamlin said.
Fallbrook’s next two finishers were freshmen who began the season on the junior varsity. “I’m really proud of them. They did a great job towards the end of the season,” Hamlin said.
Ally Cote was the 100th finisher after a 19:41 performance. “It was just a huge breakthrough race for her, and she should be happy with the way her season ended,” Hamlin said.
Andrea Vela’s time of 20:07 was worth 108th place. “She struggled a little bit with the course – it’s a hard course – and she did the best she could in her first CIF effort,” Hamlin said.
In the freshmen’s only previous race at Morley Field, Vela’s Sept. 15 time on the 2.2-mile course was 16:55 while Cote struggled with the heat and finished in 20:30.
“It’s a really good experience for the freshmen and Kiera, and they know what it’s like to be in that kind of a race,” Hamlin said of his three first-time CIF meet runners. “I was really happy with the freshmen and obviously Kiera. They did a great job.”
Fallbrook’s final finisher at the CIF meet was senior Alexis Lopez, whose time of 20:08 placed 110th. Lopez ran last year’s CIF meet in 20:26 for 129th place.
“I wasn’t expecting that we’d make any miraculous breakthroughs for CIF,” Hamlin said.