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Hillmen making a run for it

PVL Pipeline
By: Dave Krizman Journal Sports Columnist
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They run for the sheer joy of it. They run in insufferably hot weather. They run with their best friends. They run with Placer High alumni. They are the cross country team of Placer. One would be hard-pressed to find a more dedicated bunch of high school athletes. Randall Fee, Placer’s cross country coach, detailed what an ‘”average” weekly workout for these runners looks like. “We have three days a week where we meet as a team and run together,” Fee said. “Three other days they run on their own. Including an 8-10 mile run on the weekend, they average about 25-30 miles per week.” When asked what motivates a cross country runner, Fee felt the “family attitude” was paramount. These runners spend hours together running in the canyon. A sense of camaraderie develops. Fee, as an example, used incoming freshman Macaylea Mitchell to prove his point. “As an incoming freshman she has already made friends,” he said. “She is already part of our family.” This sense of belonging extends to alumni as well. Fee sponsors a Thursday evening run during the summer. Over six consecutive Thursdays, the event averaged 72 runners per evening. Fee feels there is a direct correlation to the dedication required to be a successful runner and success found in the classroom. “Cross country runners must learn to endure,” Fee said. “It is this ability to endure that makes them outstanding athletes and students. For example, on last year’s team, we had three class valedictorians, Shannon Harcus, Andrew Soria, and Gordon Sproul.” The future looks bright for both the boys’ and girls’ team for the upcoming season. On the girls’ side, Fee feels that junior Kristen Hiatt will be a top returner. He also highlighted the core group of senior Kirby Reicks, sophomore Kailee Warren, and junior Christina Winters. Macaylea Mitchell, an incoming freshman, is, according to Fee, “already running with the top girls.” “I feel we are ready to defend our PVL title,” stated Fee. The Placer boys are the defending Sac-Joaquin Section Division III champions. The loss of Lucas Stancliff and Gordon Sproul will be felt. However, Fee is pleased with junior Christian Finkbiner, junior Cameron Brown, and sophomore Zach Stoll. Zach Stelzer, an incoming freshman, will have “an instant impact,” stated Fee. Returning as an assistant coach will be John Krogsrud, who helped guide the girls to the state championship in cross country in 2004. Also assisting is Mo Hacker, one of Auburn’s elite long distance runners. Fee was quick to point out the “great job” done by Kim Swayze, cross country coach at E.V. Cain. “She runs a great program and is a great person,” Fee said. “Del Oro has eight feeder schools, and we have only one. Swayze does a super job preparing runners for Placer High cross country.” Discussing the new look Pioneer Valley League, Fee was disappointed to see El Dorado and Whitney leave. “They added some real competition,” he said. Incoming schools Foothill and Center will not likely add much to the competition in cross country.