Buchanan girls cross country ready to hit its stride

Senior Meagan Lowe (center) is already running at high level this season and defending her individual Valley title. Lowe placed second in the state last season to best friend Corie Smith. COURTESY OF BUCHANAN CROSS COUNTRY

The 2018 Buchanan girls cross country team returned two of the top runners in the state in senior Meagan Lowe and junior Corie Smith, a year after winning the Central Section D-I title and placing second in the state.

Lowe and Smith placed one-two in the Valley last year, and, ironically, at the CIF State Cross Country Championships, it was Smith taking first followed by Lowe in Division I.

The two are rightfully the talk of the town, two excellent runners who will no doubt stand tall when the chips are down.

And both have plenty of college options when the time comes.

“They are at a different level for any girls we’ve ever had, and we’ve had a lot of good girls,” Buchanan coach Brian Weaver said. “You just see in it in their workouts. They are good leaders because of their work ethic and commitment.”

But a burning question coming into the season loomed with mystery: who was going to pick up the slack behind Smith and Lowe?

Well, it’s been a mix of girls who came into the season with little experience, a group that has exceeded expectations.

“They are really starting to come along and the younger ones are starting to show promise,” Weaver said. “It’s across the board, they’ve ready stepped up. Our top 10 has not been the same all year and that’s the part that’s kind of hard right now.”

Weaver and his assistant coaches hatched a plan this past summer to ensure the girls were in tip-top condition both mentally and physically for the grueling season.

Their plan seems to be working most efficiently as the girls are hitting their stride at just the right time, evidenced by the team’s performance at the John Seaman Invitational on Oct. 27 in Kingsburg where the Bears claimed nine out of the top 13 spots.

Lowe (16:14.38) and Smith (16:14.56) finished literally neck and neck, followed by sophomore Morgan Hutchison (17:22.36) in fourth, Mia Jauregui (17:47.83) sixth, Kaylee Elliott (17:52.32) seventh and Amanda Dolberg (17:56.36) eighth.

Rounding out the team is Kaylee Elliott, Rachael Culver, Allison Yii, Jariah Lopez and Jasmine Aguilera.

“They are a joy to coach,” Weaver added. “No drama, just hard-working young women.”

The league meet is scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 8 and the Valley meet is Nov. 15 at Woodward Park.

The CIF State Cross Country Championships are again held at Woodward Park during Thanksgiving week, scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 24.

“All signs are pointing to being at our best at the end of the year,” Weaver added. “We’ve seen the progression at the meets. We may have sacrificed a little bit of performance earlier in the year to hopefully get more at the end of the year.”