Sunny Hills girls cross country team takes first in Freeway League Cluster

Sunny+Hills+girls+cross+country+runner+freshman+Jeweliet+Fields+races+toward+the+finish+line+during+the+Freeway+League+Cluster+Oct.+9+at+Ralph+B.+Clark+Park+in+Fullerton.+Fields+finished+13th+with+a+time+of+20.48.93+and+helped+the+Lady+Lancers+take+first+place+during+the+race.+Photo+taken+by+Accolade+staff+reporter+Kristima+Aryal

Sunny Hills girls cross country runner freshman Jeweliet Fields races toward the finish line during the Freeway League Cluster Oct. 9 at Ralph B. Clark Park in Fullerton. Fields finished 13th with a time of 20.48.93 and helped the Lady Lancers take first place during the race. Photo taken by Accolade staff reporter Kristima Aryal

Aaliyah Magana

This story was updated Oct. 28 with additional quotes from cross country runners.

The girls cross country team finished first in the three-mile Freeway League Cluster at Ralph B. Clark Park in Fullerton; meanwhile, one of its junior runners has been placing in the Top 10 in the past three events.

“We’ve been putting in the work since the beginning of August, and it is now paying off,” girls cross country head coach Ashley Geisler said of the Oct. 9 victory.

Junior Esther Fee placed first with a time of 18:43.29 followed by team captain junior Stephanie Gonzalez with a sixth-place time of 19:53.87, propelling the Lady Lancers to pull ahead of their closest competitor, Troy, by 12 points.

“I was pretty relieved when I placed first because I was pretty worried about this one,” Fee said, adding that she became concerned because she noticed she was running at the same pace as another runner from a different school.

But in the end, Fee shook her off and took the top time.

The three-year starter on the varsity squad has also been finishing in the Top 10 at two other events — sixth place with a time of 18.45.2 in the Oct. 19 Orange County Championships at Oak Canyon Park in Silverado and third place with a time of 18:40.8 in the Oct. 26 Riverside Invitational at the Riverside City Cross Country Course.

Fee said the secret to her success has been her preparation.

“It’s pretty exciting because last year I was a pretty decent runner; this year I see a big improvement in scoring,” she said. “I’ve improved my attitude in races through shifting my perspective from dreading races to enthusiasm to try my best.”

As a team, the Lady Lancers placed 10th in those two most recent races and will now head into Freeway League finals Oct. 30 at Ralph B. Clark Park in Fullerton starting at 1 p.m.

“I think we’ll have some competition with Troy [because] their scores are very close to ours, but I think if we push hard enough our girls varsity can win,” Gonzalez said.