The LPC Cross Country team is showing no signs of slowing down as the season moves along.
Head Coach Steve Navarro made a strategic decision to not have the team run in the Crystal Springs invite on Sept. 27 in order to put the focus on the more important Beaver Invite, which took place on Oct. 5 in Folsom.
“The reason against running at Crystal Springs was to prevent drops in times,” Navarro said. “In the long run, it will help.”
Well, that decision to skip the meet paid off in a big way. Sophomore runner Abraham Espinoza, who had broken school records in the team’s first two meets, stepped his game up to another level in Folsom. Not only did he break the school record for fastest time at the Beaver Invite, but his time of 20:22 in the four mile race was good enough to set the all-time course record for fastest time ever for any runner at the Beaver Invitational. Espinoza finished first in a field of 136 runners. There were 13 schools from northern California represented at the meet.
“It’s overwhelming,” Espinoza said. “I have to give credit to my coaches. Their encouragement really helped me focus on the race.”
While Espinoza was ecstatic about the first place finish, he still feels he could have done better. He was just short of one of the personal goals he has set for himself this season.
“One of my goals is to finish a four mile race under 20 minutes,” Espinoza said. “I got close but there’s still work to be done.”
Espinoza’s self-criticism and dedication is what makes him such a terrific runner, according to coach Navarro.
“In sports like cross-country it’s hard to keep improving. You usually see a plateau,” Navarro said. “What makes Abe so special is he keeps getting better with each race.”
Even though Espinoza is the one picking up all the accolades, he is not the only one putting together good performances. Freshman runner Juan Morales was disappointed in his performance in the team’s first meet in Fresno. Since then he has put together two solid finishes in a row. His time of 21:37 at the Beaver Invite was good enough for 11th overall.
Morales feels the success that Espinoza is having has fueled the team with motivation to all keep improving. The other runners do not want to be left behind.
“We all see Abe doing good and we want a piece of that,” Morales said. “His performances have definitely motivated me to work harder.”
On the women’s side in the 2.93 mile run, sophomore Janae Mayfield led the way for LPC, finishing 18th overall with a time of 20:05. Coach Navarro has been coaching women’s Cross Country for 18 years and he says Mayfield is easily one of the top runners he has ever had.
“Janae is one of the top three runners we have ever had,” Navarro said.
Navarro was especially pleased with the performance of freshman runner Marisol Alcantar. Her final time was 21:25.
“She improved two minutes from her last meet,” Navarro said. “I was very happy to see that.”
Alcantar feels like she is getting more comfortable with each race.
“The first two meets I didn’t do as well as I would have liked,” Alcantar said. “I really felt like myself in this meet.”
The Hawks will now travel to Salinas to compete in the Toro Park Invitational on Friday, Oct. 11.
The team is currently ranked among the top four in northern California and looks to be on track to once again qualify for the State Championships.