Dylan Blankenbaker and Lindsey Spieker turned in outstanding performances at the State Cross Country Meet in Fresno, said their coach, Steve Albanese.
“Dylan ran a 16:09 over a 5K course, taking 22 seconds off of his personal record and finishing in 49th place,” Albanese noted in a memo to his team. “He was also the third sophomore finisher in the race.”
“Lindsey ran a 19:38 in only her third race this season at the 5K distance,” said Albanese. “She was five seconds off of her personal record from sundown to showdown. However, that course is faster than the state course since it is run mostly on pavement.”
“Both had great races, but talked about how much better it would have been to be able to run with their teammates. Keep that in mind for next year,” wrote the coach to inspire his team to qualify as a team for next year’s state meet.
Blankenbaker, a sophomore, finished 49th in the Division II boys race while Spieker, a junior, was 88th in the Division II girls race.
The boys and girls both ran on a 5,000-meter (3.1 mile) course at Woodward Park.
Blankenbaker was the third sophomore across the finish line.
The course was challenging.
“The first mile was flat and mostly on dirt,” he said. “The second mile was over rolling hills and the final mile was retracing the first mile.”
“It was much harder than I expected and very challenging,” said Spieker.
Both said they were surprised by the experience.
“It was beyond my expectations,” said Blankenbaker. “I was surprised by the caliber of the athletes and by their talent.”
“I really didn’t know what to expect,” said Spieker. “I just made up my mind to do my best, but the competition was better than I expected.”
The most challenging aspect of the state meet for Blankenbaker was, “the mental part. I had to believe in myself and my ability to compete. Coach (Albanese) trained us well and that gave confidence.”
“Coach made running fun and he was very encouraging and positive,” she said. “That helped me mentally.”
Lindsey and Dylan are B-plus students who plan to compete in cross country in college. Dylan is considering a career in physical therapy.
Both had family and friends make the trip to support them.
“My whole family attended and two of my teammates, Nate Morgan and Alec Richardson, came up for the race,” said Blankenbaker. “My sisters, Marissa and Faith, and parents and a teammate, Lindsey Millen, came to the meet.”
Spieker and Blankenbaker said they enjoyed the race and the experience. They plan to work hard to return to state competition and agree that their teams have the potential of going to the state meet in 2010.
Blankenbaker and Spieker were Ramona’s first runners to qualify for the state meet since Dean Manley ran the boys race in 2006.
“To have two runners make it to state is a big step forward for our program,” said Albanese.