Buchanan's Girls Save Their Best for Last

Buchanan's girls XC team and Coach Brian Weaver that celebrated the team title at Woodbridge in September (pictured) would celebrate a CIF-State Division I title two months later. (Credit: Jeffrey Parenti)


In a season where other teams dominated most of the headlines, the girls from Buchanan consistently developed into one of the best teams in the nation.  Ranked nationally outside the top 10 squads all season, the Bears stock continued to rise as their outstanding trio of freshmen continued to improve. 

In the end, Buchanan captured its first Division I State championship holding off one of the best programs in the nation, Great Oak, for a slim four-point victory!  To prove that they were not a 'one hit wonder' Coach Brian Weaver's crew traveled up to the Nike Cross Nationals (NXN) and, with the poise of a veteran group, placed fifth against the best teams in the nation.  In ending Great Oak's streak of seven consecutive CIF-State titles, the girls of Buchanan have been selected as MileSplitCA's 2019 Girls XC Team of the Year!

After a disappointing conclusion to her 2018 season, which saw her fall sick on the morning of the State Meet, missing a chance to defend her title on her home course, now-senior Corie Smith came out firing.  Reminding all that she is one of the best in the nation, Smith rolled to a convincing victory at September's Woodbridge Invitational while leading Buchanan to the team title.  She proceeded to break 16:55 on the Woodward Park course in a dominant showing at the Clovis Invitational. On that day, unlike at Woodbridge, Great Oak was the better team. 

But behind Smith and building momentum for the team's future came a group that made up one of the top freshman trios in the nation! 

Sydney Sundgren, Grace Hutchison, and Caroline Mendyk combined to average 18:03 at the State Meet, combining for a collective 40-second improvement over their combined personal bests previously on the Woodward Park course that Buchanan calls home.

Sundgren's 17:45.7 was the second fastest of any freshman at the State Championships while she was the sixth fastest of her age group with her solid performance at NXN.  Along with veterans Mia Jauregui, Kaylee Elliott and Morgan Hutchison, these seven saved their best races when it counted the most!  The older Hutchison ran over 23 seconds faster than she had at October's Clovis Invitational to seal the deal and hold off the incredible depth of Great Oak for the 67-71 upset.   

The freshman trio of Sydney Sundgren (left), Caroline Mendyk (center) and Grace Hutichson helped Buchanan to the State Division I title and a fifth place showing at NXN. (Credits: Patrick Corsinita and DeAnna Turner)


Corie Smith's leadership and charming personality will be sorely missed.  Not enough can be said about how her infectious and positive energy was a catalyst for this year's group.  Her legacy was sealed as her performance at the Clovis Invite was a new Central Section record for the Woodward Park course.  Her 16:53.7 now ranks as the fifth fastest time in course history. 

In three years running at State, Smith placed second, first as a sophomore and fourth as a freshman.  She was also a three-time Central Section champion.  Smith ended her prep cross country career by moving up from 21st place to a 12th place finish at NXN.  In the last mile, the team moved up as a group from sixth place to a surprising fifth place finish at the most competitive meet in the nation!   Reflecting back to last June, Smith's 10:17.39 runner-up performance in the 3200 meters at the California State Meet provided her squad with the points needed for the California State team title in track & field as well.  


The Buchanan's girls program has consistently been one of the best in California for quite some time.  They earned runner-up plaques in 2017, 2005 and, back in 2000, they missed the State title by only two points.  They also placed third to earn a trip up to the podium in 2016, 2010 and 2006.   This past season, they captured their 21st Central Section divisional title in the past 25 seasons!  

Buchanan's girls await introductions at the Clovis Invitational. (Credit: DeAnna Turner)