Kasia Krzyzanowski picked the right time to clock a personal record.

The Santa Monica High senior posted a career best to take ninth place in her heat at the CIF Southern Section cross-country prelims last weekend and secure an individual bid to the section finals, which will be held Nov. 21 at Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut.

Krzyzanowski will be the first Samohi girl to compete in Division 1 of the section finals, Vikings coach Tania Fischer said.

“We’ve always done well in league, and when we get to CIF prelims the other teams have just been overwhelming,” Fischer said. “But Kasia has been real consistent, and she did what she needed to do.

“This is a breakthrough for my program. The other girls saw like, ‘Hey, this is possible,’ whereas before it didn’t seem possible. It takes one to break the barrier.”

Krzyzanowski’s landmark achievement came with a phenomenal performance at the prelims in Riverside, where she completed the 3-mile course in 17 minutes 43.2 seconds. Rancho Cucamonga junior Erin Holton won the heat in 17:18.8.

Krzyzanowski led the Vikings to 15th place in the team standings as Temecula-Great Oak cruised to a victory.

The senior entered the section prelims on the heels of winning an individual title at the Ocean League finals, where she logged a 19:35 to defeat El Segundo runner-up Brianna Harmon by a full minute.

But Krzyzanowski needed an even better showing at the section prelims to qualify for this weekend’s championships.

“The course was flat and fast, so you have to get out, hang on and hold on,” Fischer said. “You’re not going to try to catch up to the girls who are up front. They’re too good. She just raced and hung in there.”

Krzyzanowski demonstrated her potential this season with top-10 finishes in two large meets, snagging sixth place out of more than 100 runners in the Nike Portland XC Invite in late September and taking fifth in her division at the Mt. SAC invitational last month.

Fischer attributed the senior’s success to offseason training that ramped up over the summer.

“You have to start in July, and you have to do a lot on your own,” Fischer said. “We do have summer practices, but you have to make the decision that you’re going to commit. When people are on vacation and having fun, it’s about getting that work in. She did that. She’s been really consistent.”

Fischer said Krzyzanowski has an “outside chance” to qualify for the state meet, which will be held Nov. 28 in Fresno. Her teammates will be cheering for her at the section finals.

“She’s our lone survivor, and I’m really proud of her accomplishment,” Fischer said. “All of her hard work paid off. That’s the message to the team: ‘You’ve got to put in the work. There are no shortcuts.’”

Caruana carries Pacifica

Pacifica Christian will be represented in girls competition at the section finals.

The Seawolves punched their ticket with a second-place outing in the Division 5 prelims, finishing behind only Flintridge Prep.

The squad is led by Christie Caruana, whose 18:39.9 was the third-fastest time in the division. It also features junior Lily Reasner, senior Joanie Howe, sophomore Rodonnoa Flowers, junior Caty Kazor, senior Shayna Simmer and senior Karli Jo List.

Pacifica is in the hunt for their first appearance at the state meet.

“This is amazing to even be in the final and compete with the best in our division,” coach Brandon Shaw said.

Parker paces Mariners

The St. Monica Catholic girls qualified for the section finals in Division 5 with an eighth-place finish at the prelims in Riverside.

The Mariners are led by junior Gracie Parker, who took 43rd in the prelims with a time of 21:50.5.

The squad also includes freshmen Michelle Garcia, Bella Fernandez, Lesley Marie Escalante and Kate Romero, sophomore Camila Gonzalez and senior Kailey Paris.

Crossroads boys advance

With two top-10 finishers in their prelims heat, the Crossroads boys secured a bid to the section finals in Division 5.

Standout senior Daniel Allen clocked a 16:18.5 and junior Ethan Finkel ran a 16:29.9 to lead the Roadrunners, who tied Cerritos-Valley Christian for second place in the heat’s team standings.

Also running for Crossroads were seniors Alex Groenendaal-Jones, Ben Fried, Andrew Wedeking and Jonah Dylan and sophomore Ayden Georgi.

jeff@www.smdp.com