Championship races present great pressure on runners, but offer great opportunities. At the Western State Conference Championships in Bakersfield, the Santa Monica College Women's Cross Country team responded beautifully to the pressure, and in doing so earned themselves a trip to the Southern California Regional Championships in two weeks.
Although she was not her sharpest, Nanako Takahashi led the Lady Corsairs for the second week in a row. On Nanako's shoulder the whole course, Jessica Robert demonstrated she is now racing at an entirely new level. Maria Martinez felt good for five-sixths of the distance, and pressed on as best she could over the last half mile. Katy Garibay did a great job of keeping her eye on Maria and not letting the gap between the two of them grow after the first mile. SMC's last crucial scorer, Hilary Monterrosas, showed guts (and restraint) as she ran on sore shins, and beat several women who had bested her at the Preview race.
As they prepare for the Regional Championship, the SMC women have reason to be optimistic. Nanako can expect to have a better race; Jessica knows she can run with a faster crowed; Maria, Katy, and Hilary should have fresher legs, which will lead to stronger races; and Carolina should be back in the line-up to help with the score. If the Lady Corsairs show the same determination as they did in this race, they may well be on the way to Fresno.