Thrilled to be second

Vista is Division III runner-up at state
By: Matt Long Telegraph Sports Editor
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The Vista del Lago girls’ cross country team exceeded expectations but fell short of their dream of a state championship on Saturday at Woodward Park in Fresno. The Eagles turned in an excellent performance, placing second in Division III to Palos Verdes, finishing a distant 40 points behind. Vista entered the meet ranked third in the state and was able to finish ahead of second-ranked and defending state champion Campolindo, who ran fourth. “The girls did really well,” Vista coach Alex Mansoor said. “Four of the five girls ran like I thought they would and even if all five had run their best, I don’t think it would have been enough to beat Palos Verdes. We finished ahead of Campolindo and that was one of our big goals, so the girls should be proud.” The girls were more than pleased with their second-place finish. “We were ecstatic,” said sophomore Clare Carroll, Vista’s No. 2 runner who finished seventh overall in only her third race of the season. “We knew we had a shot to win, but we were happy to finish second.” Vista’s top runner, junior Madeleine Ankhelyi, had a great day, placing third in her personal-best time of 17 minutes, 34 seconds. It was the sixth-fastest time from a girl in any division and it landed her an invite to Nike Nationals to be held Saturday in Portland, Oregon. Ankhelyi finished 15 seconds behind race winner Carrie Verndon of Campolindo and 14 seconds behind Oakmont’s Karlie Garcia. “I’m really happy with how I ran,” said Ankhelyi, who earned a top-10 finish for the third straight year after placing ninth last year and tenth as a freshman. “My goal was to run 17:30 and have a top-five finish and I ran 17:34 and placed third. On top of that our team placed second. I am very proud of my team.” Racing on the same course earlier this season in the Clovis Invitational, Ankhelyi didn’t run with the lead pack and thus, didn’t have the finish she had hoped for. This time her strategy was to stay with the leaders and she accomplished her goal. “I was running with the lead pack and then about a mile in Karlie and Carrie took off and I was leading the chase pack,” Ankhelyi said. “The last 800 meters it was me and Rebecca Mehra from Palos Verdes and I was able to place third.” Carroll finished the race in 17:56 and placed seventh, 22 seconds after Ankhelyi. It was her second podium finish in as many years, as she took second last year in 17:24, while running for Granite Bay in the Division I race. “I ran as well as I expected to although it wasn’t as well as I had hoped,” Carroll said. “I was still 20 to 30 seconds slower than last year. The one mistake I made was letting the lead pack get too far in front of me. I felt good at the mile mark, but I just couldn’t catch up to the leaders.” Vista freshman Sierra Jaeger placed 42nd overall, finishing in 19:10. Junior Jennifer Morgan, Vista’s fourth runner, placed 54th in 19:28, while sophomore Alegra Mendez ran 75th in 18:45. Senior Chelsea Shill placed 175th in 21:41. Vista’s seventh runner, Dali Alarian, had a lingering injury that kept her from competing in the race. Vista’s team time of 1 hour, 33 minutes, 53 seconds was the ninth fastest time at Woodward Park in Division III history. Zach Jaeger also represented the Eagles at the state meet and he finished 56th in the Division III boys’ race, finishing with a personal-best time of 16:25. Jaeger improved his previous-best time on the course by more than 20 seconds. While Carroll, Morgan and Mendez will run in Saturday’s Foot Locker West Regionals on Saturday in Walnut, CA, and Ankhelyi was invited to compete in the Nike Cross Country National meet in Portland. Ankhelyi will tour the Nike facilities among other things before racing against the best cross country runners in the nation on Saturday.