Two Yosemite High School underclassmen capped off their successful cross country seasons with a run in the state meet.
Freshman Turner Williams and sophomore Jocelyn Stansberry represented the boys and girls cross country teams, respectively, at Fresno’s Woodward Park on Saturday, Nov. 24 in the Division IV race. Stansberry is the first YHS girl to make it to state since 2008.
Williams (18 minutes 14.8 seconds) finished 174th out 212 runners on the 3.1-mile course, while Stansberry (20:24.8) finished 100th out of 209 runners.
Coming out of the race, both runners expressed how surprised they were to have made it to state.
“It was really awesome going to state ... I didn’t think I would have the time to make it there,” Stansberry said.
Williams could not help but acknowledge how strange it felt to be there at such a young age.
“It honestly felt really weird. As a freshman, I didn’t expect to end up going there. It was definitely a little intimidating at my level and age,” Williams said.
Head coach Kimberly Lawhon said the two underclass students’ qualification for the state championships is an encouraging sign for the future of the team.
“If you have one that pushes themselves, the whole team pushes themselves. They all want to do better next year, they want to go to state as a team next year. It’s really been a great year,” Lawhon said.
Lawhon spoke highly of both of her runners’ work ethic, mentioning the fact that Stansberry has quit soccer to focus on running and that Williams spent his offseason voluntarily participating in local races like the Smokey Bear Run in Bass Lake, which he won.
Stansberry “really wants to get a scholarship running. She just loves running. She’s just one of those who is always motivated and just, on her own. She wants to do really well,” Lawhon said.
Of Williams, Lawhon said, “He’s been a surprise to everyone and shown just how much your heart can really cause this great result, if you just put this effort in.”
She added that other members on the team have been “inspired” by Williams and Stansberry and expressed interest in training during the offseason.
To secure their place in the state championships, both runners placed in the top 10 in the section race on Nov. 15.
Junior Emily Rich was likely to qualify for state, as well, but she was unable to participate. Her grandfather’s funeral was scheduled the same day as the section race.