Following a season of tough Eastern League races, the Coronado Islanders’ girls cross country team is making a return to the CIF state championships.
The 2023 CIF State Cross Country Championships will take place in Fresno on Saturday, Nov. 25 at Woodward Park.
The Islanders will compete at 1 p.m. in Division 4 for Head Coach George Green, who is taking his 22nd girls’ teams to the state meet, with a total of 14 CIF champions since 1992, when he began as volunteer coach with Mel Bechtel.
“The last full team we qualified prior to 2023 was in 2017, but we’ve qualified individuals nearly every other year,” said Green, who has been the head coach since 2005. “On the boys’ side, we took seven teams to the state meet since 1992, again with many individual qualifiers other years.”
State meet qualifiers
Natalia Amkie, Carly DeVore, Maesan Everitt, Jaya Jost, Gwynne Letcher, Morgan Maske and Nadia Roos qualified for the state meet following the Nov. 11 CIF Cross Country Championships at Morley Field.
“This is an experience for them,” Green said. “They’re going to be in probably the fastest race they’ve ever been in, and see what a championship race is like. This is going to be a big deal for them.”
According to Green, sophomore Maske was the team’s top scorer, followed by freshmen DeVore, Letcher, Everitt, junior Jost, freshman Roos and senior Amkie.
Coronado earned 96 points and placed third in its division behind La Jolla and Classical Academy at the Nov. 11 meet.
Green said of the 133 qualifying girls, 28 were freshmen, and Coronado stood out as the only team with over half of its girls as freshmen.
The trip to the central valley will mark the first state meet for the six Islanders participating in the 5,000m course. (Amkie is not competing).
“I’m just so excited for them,” CHS Principal Karin Mellina said. “All the hard work they have put in has paid off. They’re going to do a fantastic job!”
The girls team has been practicing after school, around town, and throughout Thanksgiving break in the days leading up to the big day.
“As captain of the team, I am so proud of my other teammates and how hard they’ve been trying this season,” said Jost. “Many of them are freshmen, and they have been super fun to run with. My teammates motivate me, and I strive to motivate them.”
Green said the girls team is set to arrive at Woodward Park in Fresno on Friday afternoon and “get a feel for what the course is like.”
While graduating senior Amkie said she won’t be competing in the state meet, she shared about the special bond among the team.
“Cross country is a very integrative sport, where one really learns to value their teammates because one’s energy pulls the others,” said Amkie. “My greatest piece of advice to the following generation of runners is to endure through all those practices, and meets because it all counts, and with each day you decide to show up you get closer to that feeling of accomplishment, which for me is the best feeling of them all…I couldn’t have asked for a better way to finish my senior-year cross country season.”
Camaraderie among the runners is evident, said Roelof Roos, a parent to Nadia Roos. He and other parent boosters expect to host the usual pre-meet pasta dinner for the runners at one of the local restaurants over the weekend.
“I will do the best I can and see where it takes us,” said Nadia Roos. “My favorite part of cross country is my teammates, especially when we get to do team bonding, like with the pasta dinners before a race. Now that we are all traveling to Fresno, it makes it all the more exciting.”
Other runners said they are thrilled to run at the state level.
“I am excited to run my heart out and see how I place among other girls my age,” DeVore said. “I like to run for fun, so earning a team spot at the state competition is a huge opportunity. I can’t believe I qualified for the state competition as a freshman. It definitely puts some pressure on me for the next three years. I am looking forward to making memories and running with my team.”