Bear Mountain - Gianna Frontera got an extra special birthday gift on Friday afternoon: her first ever Orange County Interscholastic Athletic Association Girls Cross Country Championship.
Frontera, who turned 15 years old Friday, not only defeated her nearest challenger, Valley Central junior Holly Cavalluzzo, by 28.9 seconds, but she also eclipsed yet another NFA running mark. Completing the challenging 3.0 mile Bear Mountain course in a 17:36.93 clocking, Frontera shattered the previous Lady Goldback record, set in 1989, by 20 seconds. She is improving with each race, a feat she credits to an intense summer training regime. Lately, she has stepped up her running game with yet another variable.
"I’ve been eating much better, trying not to snack as much," said Frontera following Friday’s victory.
That nutritional boost paid dividends, as Frontera, who shadowed Cavalluzzo for the first mile of the race, surged ahead of the pre-season favorite halfway up the hill, at the turn. Once claiming the lead, she never looked back.
The Goldback Girls, tallying 222 points finished 6th out of the 23 team field, which was led by the OCIAA Champ Cornwall Dragons with 68 points. Other finishers for the Lady Goldbacks included; 11th place Kalleigh Forrester, 70th Chelsea Dunderdale, 73rd Alex Messer, 76th Mia Rivas, 103rd Deirdre Ryan and 116th Raquel Asher.
On the boy’s side, the Goldbacks turned in a 15th place performance. Shea Ratyski, who finished 43rd in 17:24.61, led the way in top performances. Other Varsity finishers included; 61st Nick Boyea, 67th Glen Rafferty, 99th Oscar Fuentes, 103rd Eric Lunal, 106th Tim Maisonet.
"I’m very happy with how my team ran today," said NFA senior Fuentes about his Goldbacks’ running. "They went all out, and really worked very hard."
Both teams return to Bear Mountain, Friday, November 4th, for the Section IX Championships, when individual and team qualifications for this month’s State Championships will be determined.
"Gianna ran awesome today; it is a real pleasure to see her growth, coaching her on a day-to-day basis," said Blair Balogh, NFA Girls Cross Country Coach. "In Sections we’re hoping to beat Holly again and be on top; after that for Gianna, we are hoping for a top 10 finish in States, top 20 in Federations and then to compete in a couple of National Races after that." Balogh added, "Anything can happen, so we’ll just have to wait and see."