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Runnin’ bears

Standout sophomores help Bear River High girls emerge as PVL contenders in cross country
By: Todd Mordhorst Journal Sports Editor
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At a school where football is king and most other fall sports are an afterthought, an upstart group of runners is quietly bringing about change. The Bear River High girls cross country team has already put together some impressive results this fall. Anchored by a pair of talented sophomores, the Bruins’ future is looking even better. “We have a really dedicated group of kids and they all want to do well,” second-year coach Chris Davis said. “The team is small, but it’s a real nice, family atmosphere.” “Everybody has a new look at the team this year,” Bruins runner Denise Julian said. “Everybody feels a new energy around the cross country team. We’re taking a big step forward this year — everybody’s ready to succeed, and that shows in meets.” Julian and fellow sophomore Breann Mitchell have emerged as standouts for Bear River and have made noise in the Pioneer Valley League. Julian took second individually at the last PVL meet, behind only Placer junior Shannon Harcus. Mitchell was close behind in third, leading the Bruins to third as a team. The Bruins placed second in the first PVL meet. “As a team, we’re doing really well and we’ve had some very good success,” Mitchell said. “I’d say we are kind of a surprise, but at the same time, no. We have some freshmen who are coming on pretty strong as well as some other people who weren’t here last year.” Individually, Julian and Mitchell have proven they can compete against top competition from other areas. Julian ran to second place overall — and first in the small-school division — on a hilly 5-kilometer course at the Moreau Mariner Invitational in Hayward last weekend. Mitchell, meanwhile, placed third in the small-school division. Julian is grateful to have Mitchell there to push her in races. “She’s never far behind,” Julian said. “She’s a really good runner herself.” “We work together really well,” said Mitchell, who has known Julian since sixth grade and also competed with her in track and field and wrestling. “We push each other, and it helps both of us.” Davis said he hopes to build Bear River’s program to compete with longtime power Placer and the rest of the area’s elite. “We’re spread thin at Bear River, but we’ve had a number of good runners,” Davis said. “There hasn’t been stability in the program, so it’s hard to build. Last year we had a crop of five or six freshmen who came in and were ready to run and that’s helped us a lot.” “As years go on, our team will continue to grow,” Julian said. “People will be succeeding more. Maybe our team will inspire people to come out and Bear River’s cross country program will continue to grow and succeed.”