By John Philip Wyllie
It has been an incredible season for a pair of young cross county competitors from Bonita Vista High. On November 10, Sofia Garcia took top honors and finished ten seconds ahead of BV’s second place finisher Cristina Hernandez in the Metro Finals at Rohr Park. Their one-two finish catapulted the Barons to a league banner and gained the pair admission into the CIF finals held last weekend at Morley Field. Remarkably, both girls are just freshman.
“They are both very strong competitors and also close friends. They switched the lead back and forth (all season) and in doing so pushed each other to do their best. It was a wonderful situation to have two athletes both highly competitive pushing each other. They were competitive, but in a good way because they are best friends,” said assistant coach Abram Garcia, (Sofia’s father). “They are very similar as runners, but Cristina prefers to take the lead and set the pace. Sofia on the other hand, sits back in the pack and has a bigger push at the end. They are pretty equal in every other way such as conditioning, work ethic and with the intensity in how they compete. They are going to be the foundation for several strong, competitive teams and hopefully there will be more championships in there as well. I hope they will serve as models to the younger girls and build a winning tradition at Bonita. Two top runners are not enough to win as a team you need all seven runners to be strong.”
Garcia is the third member of her family to wear the Baron blue and gold. Daniel, her older brother and a ’07 graduate, was a main cog on last year’s boy’s team. David, now a junior competes on the boy’s side.
“I had never even heard of cross country before I started going to my brother’s meets,” Garcia said. “Last year my brothers ran together and it looked like so much fun. I watched everything they did and decided that I wanted to run cross country too.” Did she ever. Topping a large field of mostly older runners from the Mesa and South Bay Leagues, Garcia emerged as the top runner in the South Bay and as one of the best in the entire county.
Like Garcia, Hernandez comes from a family of athletes. Both of her parents ran in high school and her siblings play soccer. Being a freshman she didn’t know what to expect heading into the Metro finals, but she is of course pleased with the results.
“I was a little scared, but it helped to have Sofia there with me. I thought that Sofia and I would finish close to each other and near the top. Cross country is very much a team effort. We all push each other and help each other out. We both want to help our school become one of the best teams in the county.
By virtue of her 16:55 tenth place finish in last Saturday’s CIF Division I Championship Meet at Morley Field Garcia will move on this weekend to the state competition.