By Stu Bownes
Mammoth’s Jody Meads capped off a great Huskies fall sports season with a thrilling second place finish at the CIF Cross Country State Finals held at Woodland Park in Fresno, Saturday, Nov. 30.
Last week, Head Coach Scott Luke was still animated as he relayed how things went race day for Meads. Coach Luke explained that Jody’s coaching staff, consisting of himself, Jody’s Dad Jeff and Andrew Kastor saw it as a 3-person race between Julia Maxwell, 2-time and current champion from Branson H.S. who starts strong and rarely fades, #2 seeded Jody Meads and Natalina Laspada from La Jolla Country Day who reportedly finishes with a wicked kick.
Working into the strategy was that at race time no one was absolutely sure of the fitness of the CIF Champion Maxwell who was injured earlier in the season and missed part of October. Knowing all this, Jody’s race plan was to try to stay on Maxwell’s pace to start the race challenging and also to get as far ahead of Laspada as possible to guard against her expected strong finish.
The race of cross country is intense. At just over 3 miles the course takes less than 19 minutes to complete with the top 7 girls in the race finishing within a minute of first place.
The stage was set, the plan in place and Meads was ready along with field of the top 200 of the many thousands of high school girls who compete in cross country racing in California for the big State Final showdown. When they hit the 1 mile mark it was Meads, Maxwell and Laspada dead even. By mile marker 2 Laspada had dropped off the pace as expected while up front Maxwell had opened a slight lead; but Meads kept surging up next to Maxwell testing her fitness to the max … and then Maxwell would dig down and edge ahead. The Meads-Maxwell battle continued until just before the finish. Maxwell was able to sustain a slight lead through the finish for the win and Jody was able to fend off Laspada by just 3 seconds for second place.