Claudia Lane, two-time CIF-State Cross Country champion and State Meet record holder, defeated 2017 Division II State winner Haley Herberg in the final of MileSplitCA's month-long poll honoring CA's Greatest Girls Cross Country Champions. Lane won by 14 votes.
While starring at Malibu (SS), Lane won the CIF-State Cross Country Championship title for Division IV in both 2016 and in 2017.
Her 16:30 to win as a junior in 2017 is the fastest ever run at the CIF-State Championship on the 5,000-meter course at Woodward Park in Fresno. Her 16:45 to win as a sophomore is No. 2 on the D-IV list and equal to the fifth-fastest ever at the State Championships.
Lane is one of only six girls to ever run sub-17 to win a state title and one of only four to do it more than once. In both victories, she left Mari Friedman (Santa Cruz/CC) will back in second: by 56.90 seconds in 2016 and a gap of 79.30 in 2017.
CLAUDIA LANE ... ON VIDEO
2017 State Championship Highlights - Division IV Race Start
2016 State Championship Highlights - Division IV Race
- - -
Poll Tournament Background
The Greatest CIF-State Cross Country Girls Champion poll tournament launched just over a month ago, with a five-round bracket that started with the 32 greatest champions over the 32-year history of the CIF-State Cross Country Meet.
Because of the depth of excellence among girls cross country runners in California, the bar to even make the initial 32 was extremely high to the point where 11 two-time champions did not make the tournament.
In the history of the CIF-State XC Championships, only six girls have run the Woodward Park course to win a title in less than 17 minutes. Those six girls combined to run sub-17 to victory 11 times. Two of those girls, plus nine others, have won CIF-State XC titles in times between 17 minutes and 17:10. One of those, plus 11 others, have winning times between 17:11 and 17:19.
Also, there are three girls won won state division titles all four years and another five girls who won state division titles three times.
Anyone with three or more multiple titles and/or winning times of sub-17:20 automatically made the tournament bracket. There were 29 girls who met that auto-qualifying criteria. The final three spots were selected from a pool of 14 two-time champions who did not meet the criteria. The final three were selected based on their combined winning times.
Path To The Final
Lane's road to the poll championship required victories over 1996 champion Kristen Gordon, 2019 champion Carlie Dorostkar, four-time champion Sara Bei (Hall), and another four-time champion, Jordan Hasay.
The semifinal match between Lane and Hasay was the closest of this tournament and perhaps of any tournament we have produced throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
Lane advanced to the championship by all of one vote over Hasay, who also competed in Division IV while at Mission College Prep (CS) winning titles between 2005-08. In tracking the votes at the end of that semifinal, Lane received nine of the final 12 votes to get her to the line first and into the final.
The championship match was with Herberg, who won the Division II title in 2017
with an amazing year-over-year drop of 1:12.60 from her junior year to run 17:00.00. To reach the final,
Herberg was the top vote-getter in match-ups with 2010-11 champion Carrie Verdon, 2006-07 champion Christine Babcock, three-time champion Julia Stamps and and 2013-14 champion Fiona O'Keeffe. Herberg reached the championship by seven votes over O'Keeffe, a two-time sub-17 winner from Davis (SJ).
Lane was seemingly as dominant during this tournament as she had been whenever she took the line in CIF competition, winning the first round by 89.2 percent of the vote, receiving 82.7 percent in the round of 16, and 76.2 percent in the quarterfinal. After getting past Hasay in the semis, Lane was supported by 53.4 percent of the vote in beating Herberg.
Injuries unfortunately cut Lane's high school running career short. She now runs at Dartmouth College where she is a sophomore.
- - -
It is a pleasure to recount the historic accomplishments of California's great champions and to share that in this interactive format. Thank you all for your voting participation and please stay clicked in for a similar boys tournament coming soon.