By Stevie McCarter
By Stevie McCarter
This year’s season is almost at an end, with state championships right around the corner. Tournament after tournament, the women’s cross country team ended with an exceptional record of 5-1.
Winning the Mt. Sac invitational on Oct. 15 and coming in second place or better for the remainder of the competitions leaves no question why the team deserves a shot at this year’s state championships; but have what it takes to be number one?
For the past four years, Orange Coast has been the team to take first place at the OEC championships; with Riverside falling into second place, or as some may say, first loser. Working with four returning sophomores and ten recruited freshmen, Coach Mike Barbee says that the team “has done well by using a conservative and tactical racing approach.”
Since the start of practice on July 6, the team has worked very hard to achieve their goals. Monday thru Saturday, practice consists of conditioning, training, lifting and a whole lot of running. At the start of the week, the girls run an average of 4-5 miles a day leading up to 8-9 miles a day on Saturday. If that sounds like a lot, the Tigers also come together on Sundays on their own time. Their willingness to run together creates a friendship essential for a successful team.
All the athletes are expected not only to be dedicated to the sport, but academically inclined as well. The average 12 unit GPA for the team is about 3.4. When the women are not practicing , they are studying, eating and just hanging out together. Most of the women have coordinating classes and all are expected to transfer to a four-year college. The bond the team has seems to be calculating well with the team stats, according to the returning sophomores. Last year’s team placed third at regionals, whereas this year’s team placed second.
Barbee tries to combine his knowledge and his devotion to the team to do what all sports coaches want to do: to win. Running has been a part of Barbee’s life since he was twelve.
While he attended Michigan’s Coloma High School , he ran cross country and track where he still holds a record in the 1600 and 3200 meter runs. He was also a seven time All-Lakeland Conference selection in both cross country and track, as well as two wins at the conference cross country championship, and conference titles in 1600 and 3200 meter runs.
Barbee was also a part of the Western Michigan University cross country and track teams, where he soon graduated with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Education.
The State Championships this year will be on Nov. 20 in Fresno. Only seven women are allowed to compete. The select few are chosen based on the Conference race results.
This year’s state Tigers are team captain Laura Fairley , Karissa Holcomb, Laura Moore, Angella Nanyonyi, Amy Gilsen, Natasha Montoya and Cristy Hoover.
The team set a goal early in the season to be top three in the state. Coach Barbee said the team will maintain its goal, and he is “just excited to be here, and proud of his team.”