Fallbrook High School’s girls cross-country team was winless in its five dual meets this year.
“It was not a real successful year from a winning standpoint,” said Fallbrook head coach Troy Hamlin. “It was pretty bad.”
The Warriors’ final home meet of the year was a 15-44 loss to Carlsbad on Oct. 24. On Nov. 1, Fallbrook participated in a tri-meet, or double dual meet, against La Costa Canyon and El Camino at San Dieguito Park. In a tri-meet all three schools compete in the same race but the results are scored as if three dual meets between each combination of two schools had been contested; Fallbrook took a 17-44 loss to El Camino and a 15-48 defeat against La Costa Canyon.
“We’re just not a competitive team right now and we haven’t gotten better,” Hamlin said. “It’s a tough league, but we needed to do better than we did.”
In addition to the five dual meets, Fallbrook ran in four invitational meets. The final one of those was the Oct. 19 Jaguar Invitational which had bittersweet results for the Warriors, as five junior varsity runners had a faster time than Fallbrook’s fifth varsity finisher. “The JV girls ran at the same level as the varsity,” Hamlin said.
That earned several of the junior varsity runners berths in the varsity race Oct. 24. “I brought a lot of people up to varsity for the Carlsbad meet,” Hamlin said.
Hamlin noted that the junior varsity runners competed on the same Kit Carson Park course as the varsity girls in the Jaguar Invitational but not against the same competition. “I wanted to see what they would do at the same race,” Hamlin said. “It’s one thing to run well in a JV race. It’s another thing to run well in a varsity race.”
Hamlin explained that junior varsity races start out slower and that there is less pressure on the runners. “It’s the same course. It’s not the same race. It’s not the same intensity level,” he said.
Ironically the JV runners who posted varsity-level times at the Jaguar Invitational did not fare well enough at the meet against Carlsbad to remain on the varsity for the tri-meet race while two junior varsity runners who missed the Jaguar Invitational posted suitable showings. Kiera Donoghue, who won the junior varsity race in Fallbrook’s first dual meet of the year Sept. 28 at home against Vista, was ill Oct. 19 while Andrea Vela missed the Jaguar Invitational due to a family commitment.
“Andrea stepped up,” Hamlin said. “She’s been running varsity the last couple of races and doing a pretty good job at it.”
Carlsbad put the first five runners across the finish line Oct. 24. “We were hoping that we could do better than that,” Hamlin said.
Fallbrook’s top finisher, senior Ciera Villegas, finished sixth with a time of 17:17 in her final home meet. The Sept. 28 meet was the only other meet this year on Fallbrook’s 2.7-mile course, and Villegas took 17:48 in that race.
The Lancers also had the seventh overall finisher. Warrior junior Rosanne Lopez had an eighth-place time of 17:48, an improvement from the 18:41 she posted Sept. 28. Emma Workman’s time of 18:15 bettered her league opener mark of 18:31. Haley McCaffrey, who missed the meet against Vista due to a cold, took 18:41 against Carlsbad.
Donoghue, who won the Sept. 28 JV race in 19:25, was Fallbrook’s fifth finisher in the Oct. 24 varsity race with a time of 18:47. Vela’s first varsity race produced a time of 18:50; she ran the course in 20:26 during the junior varsity race against Vista. Alexis Lopez, who took 19:21 Sept. 28, was Fallbrook’s seventh finisher against Carlsbad with a time of 18:56.
Even with several junior varsity runners competing in the varsity race, Carlsbad only defeated Fallbrook by one point in the JV race as the Lancers’ fifth runner out-leaned Fallbrook’s fifth finisher in the 27-28 victory.
The San Dieguito Park course is 2.75 miles. Villegas ran through an illness and was the 10th overall finisher at 17:59 and Workman finished 13th at 18:16. A foot injury kept Rosanne Lopez from competing Nov. 1, but Jessica Steinhoff’s time of 19:01 placed 18th overall and third among Fallbrook runners. “It was a big breakthrough race for her,” Hamlin said.
Donoghue ran the tri-meet race in 19:11, Vela’s time was 19:20, Alexis Lopez finished in 19:26, and McCaffrey posted a time of 19:33.
“It has been a rough year,” Hamlin said.
Fallbrook’s junior varsity split the tri-meet, defeating El Camino by a 28-29 score while taking a 17-39 loss against La Costa Canyon. Ally Cote was Fallbrook’s top JV finisher, placing sixth overall with a time of 19:35. “That’s a good sign for the future.”
The Warrior junior varsity finished the season with a 2-3 record in dual meets, including the one-point loss to Carlsbad without Fallbrook’s normal top JV runners.