Cross-country: Estrada finishes in the top 20 at state

Vanessa Estrada speeds down a hill during her race Saturday. Estrada finished in second place.

Going into Saturday’s Division I cross-country state championship in Fresno, the lone Baler representative Vanessa Estrada had one goal: Retribution for – in her mind – a sub-par performance at the Central Coast Section championships two weeks earlier.
With a final time of 18:28 – more than 30 seconds faster than the previous year’s state race – Estrada did just that. The San Benito junior finished in 17th place, a dramatic increase after last year’s 76th-place finish.
“She did pretty good,” head coach Josh Morales said.
Estrada wanted to finish in the top 10 of the race, but after nearly missing the qualifying at the section championship, 17th was a great finish, Morales said.
“She wanted to run better than she did at CCS,” Morales said. “She did that.”
Estrada and her coach deployed a different strategy for the state race. Throughout the year, Estrada and her Baler teammates used fast starts to gain large leads but slowly fell back to the pack. After tiring out quickly at the CCS championship, Morales decided it was best to switch it up.
Instead, Estrada simply tried to stay with the lead pack of runners and make her move in the final mile. It worked.
For the first two miles, Estrada was in the top 10 of the runners, Morales said.
“She was right there for the two miles,” he said. “But she started to fall back a little bit.”
Despite not finishing in the top 10 of the race, Morales was proud of his top runner’s improvement over the year.
“This year, I’m really proud of her,” he said. “She really pushed herself and it showed. We are all very proud of her.”
This year, Estrada’s average time was in the low 18 minutes. In the previous year, Estrada finished under 19 minutes twice.
“This is only the beginning,” Morales said. “She is only going to get better.”
In the off-season, Estrada will try to build up her short speed and aim for a five-minute mile and 11-minute two mile during the track and field season.
Next year, Morales expects Estrada to be the cornerstone of another championship girls cross-country team. The team loses only one runner from last year’s squad and will return its top two, Estrada and Maura Forbush.
“We are really looking forward to next year,” he said. “We are going to be one of the best teams.”

Leave your comments