With a third place finish at league finals on Thursday, Nov. 6, the Malibu High School girls cross country team advanced to the prelims of the CIF Southern Section Championships.
This is the first time the team has reached the prelims since 2004, head coach Shawn Waco said.
“Just getting there is a huge accomplishment,” Waco said. “Now we’re into the unknown and it’s going to be a really fun race to watch. I really hope that the girls team does really well.”
Caroline Pietrzyk and Abby Blackwood led the charge for the Sharks once again, finishing first and second, respectively, on Thursday.
The prelim round is slated for Saturday, Nov. 15 at Mt. San Antonio College.
Waco said there will be plenty of challenges Malibu will face now that they are in uncharted territory.
“The teams are there, the pressure is going to be there,” Waco said. “It’s whether or not they can handle the pressure of all the other teams and focus within themselves and then within their ability.”
Even with Pietrzyk and Blackwood leading the team, Waco said it will be a difficult challenge for even his two star runners because of the heightened competition from the other schools.
However, Waco remains cautiously optimistic.
“Basically, there’s a lot of other fast teams, so the chances are pretty slim for the whole team to move on to the finals,” Waco said. “But we’re going to do our best.”
Waco suggested there is nothing left for his team to do except race, and said his runners will need to have “the race of their lives” to have a chance at advancing to the finals.
“It’s all about them at this point,” Waco said. “They’ve done all the hard work … and gotten to this point. So it’s just what else they have now, what they’re capable of.”
The boys’ varsity team finished seventh in league finals, and therefore did not advance to the prelims. Waco said it could have been the weather on race day that affected the team’s performance.
“It was a hot day,” Waco said. “The girls were able to kind of hold on and actually get some PRs [personal records] or get close to their times. The boys I think fell a little more victim to the heat.”
Of the seven girls that will be racing on Nov. 15, the top five have a chance to advance to the CIF Finals. But Waco hasn’t thought that far ahead yet.
“In terms of feeling really confident that they are going to move on to the CIF finals, that is just beyond what I can imagine,” Waco said. “I’m just going to have to be there for them, support them and just hope for the best for the team.”