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Garcia surprises field at Foot Locker regional

Oakmont freshman moves on to national finals
By: Kurt Johnson, The Press Tribune
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The results just keep pouring in for Oakmont High runner Karlie Garcia. One week after finishing fourth at the state cross country finals, the freshman was at it again, this time at the Foot Locker Cross Country Championships last Saturday at Mount San Antonio College in Walnut. The Foot Locker Western Regional meet featured the top runners from 11 western states, with the top 10 finishers qualifying for the national finals coming up this Saturday in San Diego. The Sac-Joaquin Section Division II champion shocked the field, finishing third with a time of 18:02 on the 5-kilometer course. Garcia finished ahead of two runners who were ahead of her at the high school state finals and earned a spot in the Foot Locker National Finals. “Just when I started to feel like I could wrap my head around what this young lady is capable of, she blows me away and leaves me in awe once more,” said Oakmont coach Ryan Nugent. Granite Bay’s Brooke Holt and Woodcreek’s Courtney Crosta also participated in the girls race, with Holt crossing 29th and Crosta 80th. The course at Mt. SAC is more demanding than Woodward Park, where the high school runners competed for the state title. That created slower finishing times, but played to Garcia’s strength. “The more difficult the course, the more it works to Karlie's advantage,” Nugent said. “Most runners slow down in the hills. Somehow she gets stronger. She ran Mt. SAC earlier, but this was a longer version of the course to make it a true 5K.” The result puts Garcia among the elite runners in the nation, and her time was the second fastest ever run by a freshman in this event. The competition gets even more intense Saturday at Morley Field, Balboa Park in San Diego where the top 10 from the West will be joined by similar groups from the Northeast, South and Midwest. "She obviously is the No. 1 freshman in the western states, and I think a great goal for her would be to attempt to beat all the freshman at nationals,” Nugent said. “I'll admit I have no idea how many freshman are coming from the other regions, but it's a starting point for her heading into a pretty intimidating situation.”