Just a few days remain until Santa Monica High School departs for Riverside to compete in the preliminary round of the 2019 CIF Southern Section Boys and Girls Cross Country Championships, and coach Tania Fischer can barely contain her excitement.

Those who frequent the area of Samohi will recognize the navy blue shirts that runners often sport while they enjoy their after-school run around the school’s structures and Olympic Avenue.

At the beginning of the season, the team focused on conditioning in an attempt to increase runners’ mileage, stamina and endurance, but coach Fischer said the team is now fine-tuning the foundation they’ve built throughout the course of their season.

“As you know there’s been fires and smoke,” which have prompted Red Flag days and forced the cancellation of many different practices this year, Fischer said, speaking on the team’s ability to fight through adversity. “No matter (the adversity), I think we’ve been pretty successful.”

Cross Country competitions are comprised of a three-mile race that can be completed on many different types of terrain, including dirt, concrete and even mountainous hills, “so sometimes you can’t compare times because courses have a massive effect on the outcome,” Fischer said, but the coach is confident she’s fielding a solid contender for the upcoming preliminary matchup.

“The boys are Ocean League Champions and the girls’ team secured second in the Ocean League Finals,” Fischer said, mentioning the team competes in one of the sports’ toughest divisions.

It’s not uncommon for the team to make the preliminary round in Division 1 but Fischer hopes the Vikings will be able to represent Santa Monica in the CIF finals later in the postseason.

Of the nearly 50 teams who will head to the preliminary round, only 16 will make the finals and even less will head to the state championships afterward, “so that’s tough to but we’re aiming high,” Fischer said.

“But, really, I do believe both our teams have a slight chance to go to finals,” she added, stating: “Our boys look good and so do the girls.”

Fischer said she believes the extra work put in by the athletes over the summer has contributed to their success.

“That made a big difference I think especially for the girls,” the coach said. “We have a really good group of sophomore girls who have pushed our senior girls so it’s been an interesting combination, (but) the future is obviously bright.”

**Upcoming Meet Information**

Both of Samohi’s Cross Country teams are set to compete on Friday, Nov. 15, at approximately 10:05 a.m. at the Riverside City Cross Country Course located at 1011 N. Orange Street in Riverside.

Parking is $10 per car and general admission tickets are $10 as well, according to an event flyer. An awards ceremony will occur after the conclusion of a division race and interested spectators can purchase tickets in advance by visiting bit.ly/2WVAuiB.

brennon@smdp.com

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