'22 XC RUNNER OF THE WEEK POLL
Great Oak senior Kelli Gaffney, pictured winning the large division team sweepstakes race at Mt. SAC, won the Southern Section Division 1 title while leading her team to the championship, a performance recognized by the majority of statewide voters earning her MileSplitCA Girls Cross Country Runner of the Week. (Jeffrey Parenti photo)
Gaffney, a senior headed to Cal-Poly SLO, ran 17:29.10 to win the Southern Section Division 1 title while leading her team to the championship on the 3-mile course at Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut.
Kelli received 56 percent of the vote in a statewide poll. Mia Torrecillas, a junior at Highland (CS), was second in the voting receiving 14 percent of votes.
This week, following the CIF-State Championships, we are expanding our candidate list to put eight outstanding cross country performers on the line for you to choose the overall CA XC Runner of the Week.
Be sure to vote in the MileSplit Picks window below the candidate list. Voting closes each week on Friday at 9 p.m.
This week's candidates (listed alphabetically by last name)
(All races were held on the 5,000-meter course at Woodward Park in Fresno.)
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Ellie Buckley (Campolindo/NC) - Ellie, a senior headed to Boston College, led the charge as Campolindo won the Division III team title for the third time in as many State Meets, and the seventh time in program history. The Cougars placed third in the merge and earned a bid to compete at Team Nationals in Portland. Buckley placed third in the race, running 17:30.3. She has now placed 3rd, 5th, and 11th as the team champion's No. 1 runner in three consecutive State Meets.
Tessa Buswell (Poway/SD) - Tessa, a junior, turned on the afterburners over the final 100 meters to win the Division I title, crossing the line in 17:25.00. Buswell ran 5:24.3 over the final mile to make up two position places in her race. She placed fourth in the merge and earned a bid to compete at Team Nationals in Portland.
Kaiya Brooks (Crystal Springs Uplands/CC) - Kaiya, a senior headed to Harvard, took the lead after the first mile and was not challenged after that on her way to winning the Division V title in 17:54.2 while leading her team to a two-point victory for its first State Meet championship. Brooks, whose XC season is expected to continue at the Champs West Regional this Saturday, had margin of victory of 24.4 seconds.
Sadie Engelhardt (Ventura/SS) - Sadie, a sophomore, ran the fastest time of the day, 16:57.9, in running away with the Division II championship. Her margin of victory was 34.1 seconds. Engelhard's winning time ranks No. 3 all-time for sophomore girls and No. 3 all-time in Division II. Engelhardt is scheduled to continue her XC season at the Champs West Regionals this Saturday.
Brynn Garcia (JSerra/SS) - Brynn, a sophomore, led the way as JSerra won a second consecutive Division IV team title and earned a bid to compete at Team Nationals in Portland. Garcia placed sixth in the race, running the course in 17:57.6 as the Lions posted the second-fastest team time in D-IV history (92:39).
Payton Godsey (Oaks Christian/SS) - Payton, a junior, ran the second-fastest time among girls at the State Meet in winning the Division IV title in 17:00.1. That mark ranks fourth all-time for junior girls at the State Meet and fifth all-time in D-IV. Godsey is expected to continue her XC season at the Garmin RunningLane National Championships this Saturday.
Grace Hutchison (Buchanan/CS) - Grace, a senior headed to BYU, placed second in the Division I race in 17:30.3. She set a rapid pace, led the race until very late, and hung on for the runner-up spot while leading the Bears to a third consecutive D-I title and a division record with 40 points. Hutchison, who has scored for Buchanan in two of the three team titles during the current run, will also lead them back to Team Nationals in Portland where they placed fifth in 2019 (the last year the meet was held) while running No. 3.
Hanne Thomsen (Montgomery/NC) - Hanne, a sophomore, won a second consecutive CIF-State Division III title while continuing her undefeated and yet-unchallenged season. Her winning time of 17:12.8. She set a 5:23 first-mile pace and wasn't challenged after that, winning by nearly 30 seconds in running the second-fastest time ever in D-III. She undoubtedly will get her first big challenge of the season on Saturday at Team Nationals in Portland.
Photos by Jeffrey Parenti and Raymond Tran