Woodland and Pioneer High School cross country runners Mahalia Quintana and Briana Parker will compete in the CIF State Championship meet at Woodward Park in Fresno this Saturday, November 27.
Quintana, now a senior, has undoubtedly had an even better season after enjoying one of Woodland High School’s best cross country seasons in sophomore two years ago.
âIt’s so easy to train him,â said Woodland cross country coach Kelsey Rothwell. âWe tell her what to do and she never complains. She gets up and does it. Sometimes, before asking, she’s already there. They sometimes call him the third coach. She pushes herself, along with everyone else, to be the best runner she can be. ”
So far, Quintana has not lost a Division IV race in which it has competed this year, stemming from CIF league fixtures, from the CIF sub-section meeting on November 6 to its last race, the meeting of the CIF section on November 13, which qualified her for the CIF State Championship.
In the sectional competition, Quintana beat the second by 30 seconds and, comparing her time to all the results of divisions 1 to 5, she obtained the ninth fastest time.
âI think our goal was to go to the state meeting,â Rothwell said. âI hope she can finish in the top 10. I know she wants to finish in the top five. It may be possible. We just have to see how things go on Saturday.
Although Quintana is not doing anything on the course regarding times and results no longer seems to surprise anyone, she has improved, mainly due to experience and age. After not running in the State Meeting last year due to COVID-19 regulations, Quintana is excited but admittedly nervous, as she usually is before any race.
“It’s still a bit new and scary because I haven’t run with some of the girls I’m going to face,” Quintana explained. âIt can be overwhelming because you don’t know what they’re capable of. The nerves don’t really go away until the last 100 yards or so, but even then they sometimes don’t go away until after the race is over.
âAnything can happen during a race,â continued Quintana. âI could stumble or finish in 20th place because I didn’t run hard at the start. It is very rare where I say to myself: “I have this in the bag”. I always keep my competition at a high level.
Although nervous, she still has lofty goals and the desire to improve her time from two years ago. In her sophomore in 2019, she finished with a time of 19:06 and finished 41st.
âMy main goal is to beat my time last year,â said Quintana. âGetting into the top ten nationally as well. ”
âShe’s such a smarter athlete going to state competition this year than her sophomore year,â Rothwell said. âNow she has seen competition and has been able to learn from it and can have a smarter race. She has also seen a great improvement since the beginning of the year until now. Since the summer, she has had a lot more push in training.
Across town for the Patriots, Parker also made meet the State and made his playoffs in D-III.
The Patriots’ young rider team of Parker and rookie Keziah Maldonado-Lemus both had a great chance to meet State, but Maldonado-Lemus narrowly missed out on a qualifying spot.
âI want to thank my other teammate Keziah,â Parker said. âThank you for always making me work as hard as possible. You’ve always been my biggest competition, and you’re just a freshman. You are going to do great things in basketball and running! I am your biggest fan and continue to work hard. Thank you so much.”
Parker finished the section meeting with a time of 20: 47.8, good enough for 12th place.
In the previous week’s subsections Parker finished with an almost identical time of 20: 47.9 which was good enough for 19th place.
âI had a blast this season,â Parker said. âI never thought I could run at this level. I decided to run this year to keep myself in shape for the softball season, but I never thought I would be so good at it.
Parker’s primary sport is softball, and in the spring she will likely be playing at the college level. Her background in softball has helped her this season in terms of strength, competitiveness and maintaining a great work ethic.
âIt’s been a very impressive season,â said Pioneer cross-country head coach Jared Wilding. âShe’s brand new to the sport besides being only in second grade. She’s a go-getter. She wants to be the best, run the best and do her best. This enthusiasm really made the whole team run faster and try harder.
According to Wilding, Parker is only the fourth girl in Pioneer history to qualify for state cross country competition.
âHer goal for the state competition is to see how her time and final place stack up against other girls in Pioneer history,â said Wilding. âMy goal for her is for her to go see what it is and have fun and hopefully bring back some of that energy for next year. I think our whole team has a good chance of reaching State. I didn’t expect her to get there this year.
âPersonally, I want to thank my teammates for their kindness. He’s probably the most friends I’ve ever made, âParker said. “I also want to thank my trainer, Mr. Wilding, for the opportunity he gave me to run as a varsity runner, and I want to thank him for always believing in me.”