All-Empire large-school girls cross-country: Lane benefits from lots of hard work

By MICHAEL COIT
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Running with the boys at summer cross country camps, Nicole Lane set a course for herself culminating in a superlative senior season at El Molino. And it worked.

Putting in more miles earlier, Lane was primed to set personal records, only she ran even faster than expected. As a result, Lane is the All-Empire Girls Cross Country Runner Of the Year.

“My races definitely felt stronger. Mentally it definitely helped. I felt a lot faster,” Lane said. “I didn’t really expect to improve that much from last year.”

After capturing a handful of invitational titles, Lane took the Sonoma County League championship and won the North Coast Section Division 4 crown. She finished seventh at the California Interscholastic Federation finals and ran in the prestigious Footlocker National Cross Country Championships West Regional.

“Seeing her take charge at the invitationals was great. Her finish at the state meet was just phenomenal,” said El Molino coach Heather Rosales.

Such desire to improve came with some urging from her coach.

After lowering times significantly in track as a junior, Lane became more focused on training for cross country. Lane ran with whomever she could, including attending the Piner and Maria Carrillo summer camps, Piner’s at Hendy Woods, in Mendocino County, and Maria Carrillo’s at Lake Tahoe.

“The camps taught me a lot,” she said. “The guys were pushing me. It helped me get accustomed to certain paces.”

Increasing her mileage from 7 miles to 12 a day earlier in the season, Lane was logging nearly 50 miles a week before tapering off toward season’s end.

“I was able to build up a base. It helped to make races easier,” she said.

Careful to avoid over-training, Lane would take days off.

“If I felt tired I would ease back. I took two days off before the SCL finals,” Lane said.

Later in the season Lane ran more intervals and tempo runs to improve her speed.

Steady, consistent training put Lane on a big improvement curve.

“She’s a super hard worker anyway. That really helped her a lot,” Rosales said.

At the season’s first meet Lane took off a minute from her previous best. She improved by a similar margin at the prestigious Stanford Invitational.

After finishing second in the SCL and NCS finals as a junior, Lane wanted the top spot on the podium.

“The big goal was winning the league finals and the NCS finals. I won both of them,” Lane said. “I never won any big meets before.”

Lane became more competitive.

“When the competition is a little bit above, she steps it up,” Rosales said. “Her confidence level has come a long ways.”

Taking notice were college coaches. Lane will run at UC Davis in the fall.

“I think she’s just going to be blown away by what she can accomplish there,” Rosales said.

The challenge in the transition is putting in more mileage and staying injury free.

“I'm really excited,” Lane said. “I never even imagined running at the college level before.”

2011 ALL-EMPIRE GIRLS CROSS COUNTRY TEAM

RUNNER OF THE YEAR
Nicole Lane, El Molino, senior

FIRST TEAM
Kyra Johnson, Piner, senior
Lauren Kraus, Maria Carrillo, junior
Katy Lee, Sonoma Academy, junior
Ashley Moffett, Casa Grande, junior
Andrea Natoli, Maria Carrillo, freshman
Brynna Thigpen, Maria Carrillo, junior

SECOND TEAM
Chloe Hall, Casa Grande, junior
Melissa Hansen, Rancho Cotate, senior
Sadia Ibrahim, Santa Rosa, junior
Dezirae Johnson, Piner, senior
Amber Peirsol, Windsor, senior
Alexandra Sciocchetti, Fort Bragg, senior
Victoria Tomaszewski, Windsor, sophomore

HONORABLE MENTION
Molly Foster, Analy, sophomore
Andrea Gonzalez, Casa Grande, freshman
Taylor Graham, Maria Carrillo, senior
Eva Herbst, Santa Rosa, senior
Francesca Honey, Petaluma, senior
Jessica Ohanlon, Petaluma, freshman
Erin Thomas, Mendocino, sophomore

COACH OF YEAR
Luis Rosales, Piner