Miles trails only Crouch at Sac City

By: Ray Hacke Journal Sports Writer
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In each race Sacramento City College’s women’s cross country team ran this season, a Placer High graduate was the first Panther across the finish line. Usually, that runner was sophomore Kim Crouch. On one occasion, however, that runner was Mariah Miles, who finished as Sac City’s No. 2 runner in all of the Panthers’ other races. Miles placed fourth for the Panthers at the Big 8 Championships on Oct. 30, turning in a season-best time of 19 minutes and 33 seconds on the 5,000-meter course at Santa Rosa’s Big Lake Park. The freshman also had three other top-five finishes this season. “I was in third most of the race, and I ended up getting fourth,” said Miles, who was overtaken by American River sophomore Claire Jenkins with about 800 meters to go. “I was pretty excited about that.” In the one race where she didn’t compete against Crouch, the Santa Clara Invitational on Oct. 17, Miles was Sac City’s top finisher, coming in 29th overall in a race that included runners from several NCAA Division I schools. “Mariah’s biggest strength is that she’s always there,” Panthers coach Marisa Avendano said. “She never misses practice and she trains really hard. The progress she’s shown since high school is phenomenal.” Avendano had to work with Miles on her running form at the beginning of the season. At that point, the coach said, Miles ran in a way that would work well in an ultramarathon, but not so much for a shorter, faster 5K. “She helped my stride get more speed,” Miles said. “She taught me to lift up my knees more and make my stride more quick and efficient.” By being extremely coachable, Miles made vast improvements, Avendano said. “Mariah’s very open-minded,” the coach said. “She will do anything just to get better. That’s why I wasn’t surprised she had a great race at the Big 8 Championships.” A physical therapy major, Miles eventually hopes to transfer to Chapman University in Southern California. In the short term, however, she’s focused on this Saturday’s Northern California Community College Championships. “I hope I get another PR, and I probably want to finish in the top 10,” she said.