California's top-ranked runner, Claudia Lane, will race the D1/D2 Individual Sweepstakes at the Mt. SAC Invitational on Saturday morning. Find out how to watch the action here.
Like many rising sophomores, Malibu High School's Claudia Lane was ready to elevate her cross country game this summer after getting her first taste of high school competition. So she actually ran and trained, working her way up to a modest 30 to 35 miles per week and upping her longest run from six to nine miles.
Sharks head coach Mark Larsen had an inkling of his precocious star's newly developed wheels during an early season workout, where she hit between 5:15 and 5:20 for a set of four one-mile repeats with equal recovery.
The unknown 10th-grader soon turned heads at the Seaside Invitational on Sept. 9 with a stunning 16:25 win -- nearly three minutes faster than her 2015 time.
"I knew she'd do better, but I didn't think it would be three minutes," Larsen said. "It was an epiphany."
Lane wasn't so sure.
"After Seaside, I wasn't sure if I'd have any good races after that. I just had no idea, because I hadn't run that fast of a time before," she said. "I wondered if it was a fluke."
She proved that time was no accident when she held her own at the Woodbridge XC Classic Sweepstakes, recording the second-fastest time of the day (16:16.7) behind only Brie Oakley of Colorado, the nation's No. 1-ranked runner, and ahead of ranked stars Julia Heymach of Texas and Allie Schadler of Arizona.
Watch the 2016 Woodbridge XC Classic Girls Sweepstakes race:
"Right at the beginning, these girls went out so fast, but then I realized after awhile everyone would tire out," Lane said. "When Brie Oakley got really far ahead, I tried to keep my eye on her, and I didn't know how far the third-place girl was behind me. I wasn't scared, I just really wanted to challenge myself to stay ahead."
Lane turned into the "mystery girl" of the evening at the Silverlakes Sports Park when she skipped out on the post-race awards ceremony. Oakley and Heymach huddled at the crowded Sweepstakes finish line as meet officials attempted to track down the slight Shark runner to no avail.
Lane laughs when informed she missed the awards ceremony for the most prestigious meet of her young career.
"I went to cool down, and I was really tired, so we left," she said.
Be sure that the Woodbridge will not be Lane's last shot at a podium finish. She will race the D1/D2 Individual Sweepstakes at the Mt. SAC XC Invitational on Saturday morning.
"It's kind of hard to tell on a hilly course what my time would be," she said of the notoriously rolling Mt. SAC course. "I'm hoping to run somewhere in the 16s -- maybe a little slower or faster depending on how I'm feeling on the hills -- but keep a constant pace."
Sara Baxter ran 16:00 to set the course record in 2012, a time many consider to be untouchable. Only a handful of girls have ever broken 17 minutes on the course. Last year's fastest girl was Brooke Starn in 16:55.
Claudia Lane ran 19:42 for fifth place in the D4 Varsity race at Mt. SAC:
Postseason Plans: Claudia is signed up for Foot Locker West. She hopes to be Malibu High's second Foot Locker finalist in two years. Caroline Pietrzyk -- now of Vanderbilt -- placed 14th at Foot Locker Nationals in 2014. That year, Pietrzyk ran 16:47 at Woodbridge -- 31 seconds slower than Lane's 2016 time, albeit on an entirely different course.
Most Embarrassing Running Moment: "It was 98 degrees outside and it was a long run day and we were running on the asphalt next to the beach and the sun was beating down on us. We were at 6:40 pace. We went down to the beach when we finished; I ran down to the water and a huge wave came and knocked me down!"
Favorite Pro Runners: Shalane Flanagan ("My coach just gave me her book! We made a really good yam recipe"), Aisling Cuffe
Outside of Running... "I'm a really bad surfer. When I was in middle school, I did soccer. I play piano. I volunteer a lot at animal places: the Gazette, the Fauna Foundation, an animal rehab center. I love animals -- I have five chickens, three beehives, a dog (Cocoa) and a cat (Alex)."
Claudia Lane will race the D1/D2 Individual Sweepstakes at 8:58 AM PT on Saturday. The event will be streamed live on FloTrack and available to MileSplit Universal Subscribers.