Young Eagles growing up fast

By: Matt Long
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The young Vista del Lago cross country team will venture into uncharted waters on Saturday. The team, which features three freshmen in its top-five runners, will compete in the state cross country championships at Woodward Park in Fresno. The Eagles will compete in the Division III race. “Once the gun goes off you just have to relax as much as possible,” Vista coach Mike Livingston said. “We’re going to have to get into the race early because it’s not a race where you’re going to catch up to a lot people.” Livingston is conservatively hoping for the top-10 finish, but says his team will have to perform well to achieve that mark. While the Eagles won the medium school race at the Clovis Invitational held at Woodward Park in October, he said several top teams were not at the meet. “Our time at that meet would have placed us 15th at last year’s state meet, so we’re going to have to put it altogether to place in the top-10,” Livingston said. It’s been a great year for the girls, led by freshman Madeleine Ankhelyi. Juniors Marissa Mendez, Jennifer Arbaugh and Chelsea Gorman, sophomore Maddie McFarland and freshmen Jennifer Morgan and Hannah Osuna make up the roster. “I had no idea of how we’d do this year other than knowing I had Marissa and Jennifer Arbaugh coming back and Madeleine coming in,” Livingston said. Ankhelyi won the Clovis Invitational with a time of 18 minutes, 40 seconds. Her best time this season is 18:37, which she ran at the Sierra Valley Conference finals at Granite Regional Park. Her goal Saturday is to run a personal-best time, have fun and also to have the team do well. Ankhelyi, 14, is surprised by the success she’s had this season. “Coming into the season, I just wanted to have fun and enjoy it,” Ankhelyi said. “I’m surprised that I’ve placed so well in the varsity races. I just wanted to break 19 minutes in the 5K to start, but after I saw my times and places, I wanted to see who I can beat.” “I knew Madeleine would be good, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how well she’s done,” Livingston said. “She’s had a heck of a season and has a chance to do well at the state meet.”