Everything came together this fall for Scotts Valley High senior cross-country runner Vanessa Fraser, who captured her second-straight state title Saturday, Nov. 24, in Fresno.
After a surprise win as a junior at the 2011 California Interscholastic Federation Division IV State Cross-Country Championships, Fraser returned in 2012 as an underdog from the Santa Cruz Coast Athletic League and Central Coast Section.
“I kind of exceeded my wildest dreams,” she said Tuesday, Nov. 27. “It’s crazy, even now, to think I won CCS and state.”
Fraser steadily built her strength as she began to peak the past several weeks.
Her friend Anna Maxwell, a junior from San Lorenzo Valley, was taking headlines by running strong at invitational meets all around the nation, and Nikki Hiltz, an Aptos High student and a favorite for the league title, had a stellar track season in the spring.
But a stress fracture ended Hiltz’s season in September, and Maxwell was injured late in the season. Fraser would take advantage of her upcoming opportunities.
On Nov. 1, Fraser won the SCCAL championship, finishing ahead of Maxwell, who was injured during the race.
The following week, on Nov. 10, Fraser won her first CCS title by 42 seconds, beating Maxwell once more.
At the state meet Saturday in Fresno, she took the lead in the second mile of the 3.1-mile race and cruised to her second consecutive Division IV state championship with time of 18 minutes — 12 seconds ahead of second place.
Fraser said that after a fast first mile, she steadily pulled away from a pack of three front-runners. Not that her success came without strenuous effort.
“By the time I started the third mile, I was pretty beat,” she said.
Although Fraser’s cross-country season is over, she will begin training in a few weeks to run the 3,200 meters in the spring for the Scotts Valley High track and field team.
In fall 2013, Fraser plans to return to the cross-country trails at a higher level. She was accepted to Stanford University in mid-November and will run cross country and track for the Cardinal.
“It’s been a really long-term goal for me, since I’ve been in third grade,” she said. “Last year when I won state, I thought, maybe I can do this in college.”
Fraser attributed her success to the way the Scotts Valley High coaching staff prepares runners for big meets at the end of the season and to the tight-knit team at the school.
“I cannot say enough about how impressed I am with our team,” she said. “We really came together. It was really a team effort.”
The Scotts Valley girls finished 13th behind Fraser, including Valerie Morrison (82nd in 20:44), Courtney Clark (86th in 20:49) and Shannon Youmans (91st in 20:56).
The San Lorenzo Valley High girls finished 15th, led by Claire MacMillan (eighth in 18:44), Jessica Germany (77th in 20:38), Jessica Jensen (95th in 21:03) and Emily Lamb (128th in 21:35).
Edwards 5th in state
Scotts Valley junior Scott Edwards took fifth overall in the Division IV boys race at the state cross-country championships in Fresno on Saturday.
Edwards finished in 15 minutes, 45 seconds while averaging a 5:04-per-mile pace to lead a Falcons boys team that qualified for the state meet for the first time in school history.
The boys finished 14th overall.
Edwards was followed by Nick Heath (99th in 17:22), Brett Klotz (101st in 17:23), John Ross (102nd in 17:23) and Conor McDermott (143rd in 17:58).
Junior Jacob Hicks, the lone San Lorenzo Valley High boy to qualify for the state meet, finished 50th overall with a time of 16:48.