California girls got another taste of competition last weekend in Gilbert, Arizona outside of Phoenix, where Stormy Wallace (second from left) was a runaway winner in the unattached girls race with the second-fastest 5,000-meter time of the meet. (Photo: Harold Smith)
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California cross country runners are taking wildly varying ways of coping with the adjusted season that is still on schedule to start in mid-December.
Sage Creek's Stormy Wallace has treated the down-time just as she would the summer between track and cross country.
Since Arizona high schools are currently competing, Wallace, a junior who helped lead her school to a record-setting team State Division IV title a year ago, jumped into a couple of invitationals near Phoenix, the latest a resounding victory in The Phoenix Classic Showdown at Sundown at Crossroads Park last weekend.
Competing in the 5K Unattached Varsity Girls race, Wallace, competing unattached, sped to a time of 17:27.0, leaving Rancho Cucamonga's Allie Scimia 81 seconds behind as the runner-up in the field of 32 that included a handful of CA girls.
Unfortunately, Wallace and Arizona Desert Vista sophomore Lauren Ping were unable to lock horns as Ping won the Div. 1-2 Varsity Girls race in 17:25.0. Ping (No. 16 in the MileSplit50 U.S. girls rankings) competed in the girls race was for runners currently competing for their school.
"It was kind of scary because although the course was well-marked, there were a lot of times I wasn't sure I was going the right way," said Wallace, who, as usual, didn't scorch the first mile but was on her own after that.
"I kind of had to push myself and since I couldn't really see the ground in the darkness, I was worried I might trip. I didn't know how fast I was running but I'm pleased to break 17:30 again. This course was more cross country-like with grass, dirt, some asphalt and cement as compared to running on a golf course for the Desert Twilight meet."
At the Desert Twilight the first weekend in October, Wallace sped to a 17:17.2 while finishing fourth just 1.7 seconds behind the winner, Emily Van Valkenburg from Washington state. Wallace was the first Californian.
Earlier in the summer, Wallace ran 17:09 for 5K on the track.
Wallace, 17 and still undecided on her college choice, said she plans to take off a week or so and start her training for what she hopes is a full cross country season starting with meets in January.