Calaveras Enterprise

Bret Harte girls looking to exceed state meet expectations

It will take a collective effort for the Bret Harte girls toreach a top-three finish at the state meet. Enterprise filephoto.

It will take a collective effort for the Bret Harte girls toreach a top-three finish at the state meet. Enterprise filephoto.

Brooke Lawrence and the Bret Harte High girls cross country team are no longer content just making it to the CIF State Cross Country Championships.

“My freshman year, we were surprised we made it, so it was more of a fun experience,” said Lawrence, who will be making her third appearance with Bret Harte at the state meet on Saturday. “This year, we’re expected to do well, so there’s a little more pressure.”

That pressure will most likely be felt strongest by the younger members of the Bret Harte team, which includes freshmen Erin Nanik and Katie O’Connor, and sophomore Sara Mikesell, all state meet rookies.

Lawrence and fellow senior Krista Becker ran in the state meet with the Bullfrogs in 2003 and 2004. Junior Chelsea Flores was also on the team in 2004, but shin splints prevented her from running in the state meet.

Lawrence said one of the keys to running well at the state meet is handling the rush that comes with a race of that magnitude.



“It’s a big, fast race,” Lawrence said, “faster than sections and as big as any race we’ve ever been to. There’s a lot of adrenaline, especially at the start, so you have to be careful not to go out too fast. You have to try and figure out which runners are going out fast because of adrenaline, and which ones are going out fast because they’re talented.

“You can definitely tell it’s the next level.”

Bret Harte finished 21st among Division IV teams in 2003 and 15th in 2004, but the Bullfrogs enter Saturday’s meet at Fresno’s Woodward Park ranked fourth in the state in Division IV by

The Bret Harte girls won state championships in 1989 and 1990. More recently, the Bullfrogs best showings at the state meet have been a sixth-place finish in 2000 and a fifth-place finish in 2001.

Earlier this season, Bret Harte beat the team ranked No. 1 in the state heading into the state meet, Marlborough of Los Angeles, at the Stanford Invitational, finishing second there behind second-ranked Carmel. In their final tune-up for the state meet, the Bullfrogs finished first at the Sac-Joaquin Section Championships, winning their first Division IV section title since 2001.

“It’s a real tight race this year,” Bret Harte coach Keith Maurer said. “There’s no clear, dominant team in Division IV.

“We have one of our most balanced teams. We have a chance to do real well, but it’s going to take all seven girls.”

Rounding out Bret Harte’s seven at the state meet will be senior Shayni Emerson. The top five finishers for each team score points for the total team score. Awards are given out to the top three teams.

“We want to be on that podium,” said Lawrence, referring to a top-three finish. “If one of us has a bad race, we won’t get it, but if we all run well, we could do even better.”

After a modest Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday with their families, the Bullfrogs will drive down to Fresno on Friday and walk the course at Woodward Park, buy some state meet souvenirs, then eat a pasta dinner – probably at Macaroni Grill, according to Lawrence – before settling in for the night at their hotel.

The Division IV girls race at the state meet is scheduled to begin at 10:20 a.m. Saturday.

“It’s kind of nerve wracking,” Lawrence said. “You try to get mentally prepared and focused without psyching yourself out.

“But it’s also a lot of fun. It’s exciting to see how much the team has grown and improved since my freshman year. We’re section champions now and this is still a young team. This team will be good for years to come.”

Like Lawrence and the Bret Harte girls in 2003, Bret Harte junior Travis Airola and Calaveras junior Eric Gutierrez are both excited just to be going to the state meet.

The two runners, who earned their first state meet berths as individual qualifiers, will be competing in the Division IV boys race at 8:30 Saturday morning.

“I want to do well at the state meet, but my main goal was just to get there,” Airola said. “I’m just looking forward to riding down with the girls and having a lot of fun.”

Said Gutierrez: “It’s my first time going to state so I’m real excited about that. I think it will be pretty cool. I’m looking forward to seeing all the athletes competing.”

Contact Jeremy D. Malamed at

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