The varsity girls team advanced by placing second at the Sac-Joaquin Section championship meet Saturday, Nov. 10, at the Willow Hill course in Folsom.
Next up is the California Interscholastic Federation state championship Nov. 24 at Woodward Park in Fresno — the first time any Millennium team has qualified for state-level competition.
The Falcon girls will compete against other schools in SJS Division V, which sends its first- and second-place teams to state competition.
The boys placed fourth at the section meet, short of qualifying for state, but joined the girls in making school history by being the first full teams from the 6-year-old Falcon cross-country program to compete at the section level.
It will be the second individual appearance at state competition for Millennium junior Anneliese Bradley, who placed fourth Saturday with a time of 21 minutes, 46 seconds on the 5K course.
She qualified for state last year as an at-large individual when she placed first in the section’s Division V competition. She said the experience will serve her well when she heads back to state.
“Last year, I was not expecting it to be such a large event, and I was really nervous because I was alone there,” Bradley said. “This year, having my team with me, I think it’s going to be a lot better”
Bradley said the team embraced the aspect of teamwork this year as runners pushed one another in practice and on the course.
“We’ve thought about strategies that have paid off in our races,” she said. “A lot of our girls stuck together in our last race and helped each other through it, and they all came in to the finish line right after one another, which helped with our scoring.”
The goal of team success also motivates runners to persevere in adversity. Freshman Virginia Xuereb took a tumble on the Willow Hill course Saturday after being cut off by another runner, which she figures added about a minute to her time of 27:12.
“Getting back up and starting again was really hard,” she said. “Once I got going and started passing people, I got the motivation again.”
Coach Melinda Blackwell said she saw a change in the team during the course of the season, including workouts at Carnegie State Vehicular Recreation Area, where the runners train on Corral Hollow Canyon’s steep hills, and practices and meets at Eagal Lakes, the Falcons’ home course.
“It was amazing to watch them realize we can work together and we can do this together,” Blackwell said.
“Eagal Lakes was an amazing place to see them do that, to realize they could run side by side and make a difference in where people placed. That was great, to watch them transform into a team.”
• Contact Bob Brownne at 830-4227 or firstname.lastname@example.org.