Just one freshmen runner earned first-team all-league honors during the 2022 Western Athletic Conference girls cross country season.
Ceres High’s Brianna Luna accomplished that feat on the strength of her eighth-place finish at the WAC Championships on Oct. 27 at Ceres River Bluff Regional Park.
Bulldog teammates Jaden Stahl and Evelyn Alvarez also garnered recognition by being selected to the WAC Second Team.
“We didn’t have any all-league runners last year,” Ceres High head coach Owen Brown said.
“They’re all passionate about the sport,” he added. “They’ve seen results because they put in the effort to get better. They improved a lot.”
Luna, a first-year runner, brought home a medal from the Western Athletic Conference finals.
She posted a time of 22 minutes, 25 seconds on the 3.1-mile course.
Luna placed fifth, seventh and eighth during WAC regular-season cluster competition.
“She was really consistent,” Brown said. I didn’t know anything about her (before the season). She came in with conditioning from playing soccer. That helped. She has natural talent as well. She’s a determined person. She wants to do well in everything she tries. She’s a great kid.”
Alvarez, a second-year runner, took 12th with a time of 23 minutes, 17 seconds at the WAC Championships.
The senior placed seventh, 10th and 12th during the WAC cluster season.
“She did track (in the spring),” Brown said. “Between seasons, she ran on her own. That really helped her. She kept getting better.”
Stahl, a second-year runner, took 13th (23:44) at the conference finals.
The sophomore placed sixth, 10th and 14th during the WAC regular season.
“I’m proud of the progress she’s made,” Brown said.
Stahl made a full recovery from a fractured ankle injury sustained during soccer tryouts during the 2021 cross country season.
“She doesn’t want to go backwards,” Brown said. “She was more dedicated this year. She tried harder. She had a positive attitude.”
Luna, Alvarez and Stahl helped lead the Bulldogs to a first-place finish at the WAC’s third cluster meet on Oct. 12 at O’Neill Forebay.
Alvarez will be lost to graduation.
Luna and Stahl both have the potential to get better.
“My expectation is to see Brianna and Jaden make (WAC) First Team next year,” Brown said. “They work well together.”