Strickland just misses school record
After falling short last year, the 2011 girls’ cross-country team achieved its season-long goal of returning to state finals last Saturday in Fresno. And though the Breakers failed to realize their dream as a top three finisher, the young squad, which began the season unranked, finished sixth in both the race and in the final CIF state poll.
After leading Laguna with a 16th place finish overall in 18:56, Natasha Strickland will undoubtedly be remembered as one of Laguna’s best ever. Over a 24-day period to conclude her final season, the four year varsity stand-out recorded the second fastest time of any Laguna girl on any course when she won her third straight Orange Coast league title on Nov. 2. Her 17:36 was three seconds shy of Lindsey Buwalda’s 17:33 set in 1996.
Strickland then ran 18:29 at CIF finals on Nov. 19 to break the school record of 18:31 on the Mt. SAC course, a mark held jointly by Alex Crawley (’04) and Budwala (’96). Finally it was state finals at Woodward Park, where Strickland fell one second shy of Crawley’s 18:55 set in ’04. Strickland and Crawley are the only Laguna girls to break the 19-minute barrier on the 5K course.
One of the youngest Laguna teams ever to make the finals, the two freshmen, three sophomores and two seniors ran a combined 1:39:39, the second fastest team time in school history at Woodward Park. Freshman Janie Crawford became one of only nine Laguna girls to crack the 20-minute barrier when she crossed the line at 19:49 to finish 56th overall out of 194 division IV competitors.
Sophomore Eliza Romero finished 62nd with a time of 20:02. Senior Marisa Merchant (20:23, 83rd) and freshman Carlee Ressler (20:29, 90th) completed the Breakers scoring five. Sophomores Kayla Baskevitch (20:56) and Monica White (21:58) finished sixth and seventh for Laguna.