Lizzie Lacy and Daniel Hill have a lot in common. Both are seniors. Both run cross country. Both attend schools just yards away from each other -- Lacy at Menlo School and Hill at Sacred Heart Prep.
Both also have given up a sport. Hill stopped playing basketball after his freshman year and Lacy has given up track and field in order to play lacrosse the past three seasons.
Both runners are also pretty driven and competitive. They set goals and do what it takes to attain them. Their efforts paid off on Friday as both ran to individual titles and set records during the West Bay Athletic League Cross Country Championships at Crystal Springs in Belmont.
Hill ran 15.42.2 over the 2.95-mile rolling layout, a personal best, school and league record on the course in only his first attempt this season. Lacy, however, was even better.
She clocked 17:00.8, a school and league record. It also moved her to the No. 8 performer all-time on the course with the 10-fastest time ever, in addition to being the fastest time by a Central Coast Section girl this season (by nearly 30 seconds) and one of the top five in the state.
"She just felt good," said Menlo coach Jorge Chen. "She was supposed to run the first mile in 5:52-53. She went through in 5:26. I was expecting her to be in the low 17:20s, but I didn't expect 17 flat."
"That's crazy," Lacy said when told of her time at the first mile. "I've never run a mile that fast, other than on the track."
Lacy opened a big lead heading into the first mile and won by 1:19 over defending champion Niki Iyer of Harker, who relegated Lacy to second last year.
"That first mile, I had no idea where Niki was and I wasn't going to turn around," said Lacy. "This was my last race at Crystal and I wanted to run under 17:00. I kind of wanted to go top 20 all-time. It was kind of like a goal . . . I thought I might as well just go for it and leave everything out there. I'm not disappointed."
Lacy actually wasn't aiming at winning a league title, just running her best effort. She did just that as she helped her Menlo team finish third and qualify for the CCS finals next Saturday at Toro Park in Salinas.
Among those joining her will be Pinewood senior Nicole Colonna, who finished fourth in 18:55.1, Priory senior Hana Marsheck, who was seventh in19:42.6; Pinewood sophomore Hana Merk, eighth in 19:47.3; and Menlo sophomore Eliza Crowder, 10th in 20:17.4.
The Sacred Heart Prep boys also will be in Salinas, gunning for their first CCS Division IV title and initial trip (as a team) to the CIF State Meet.
"Our goal was to get all our guys in the top 10," said SHP coach Ken Wilner. "We got five among the top 12."
The Gators scored just 34 points while successfully defending their team title. Hill, meanwhile, duplicated his individual title from his sophomore season while running his sizzling 15:42.2 while defeating rival Corey Gonzales of Harker (15:52.4), who won last year's title.
"Corey and I have always had a super-great rivalry," Hill said. "It's been back and forth through high school. I wouldn't have been the same runner without him."
The two, appropriately, ran side by side throughout the race until they reached a point when Hill was ready to throw in the proverbial towel.
"I was tempted to let him go with 800 to go," said Hill. "I didn't have much left."
At that point, both Menlo's Chen and SHP's Wilner began cheering Hill on and he responded. With about 300 meters remaining, Hill took the lead for good and raced home with a solid victory.
Menlo freshman Robert Miranda was third in 16:18.2 while helping the Knights finish fourth and qualify as a team for CCS. Priory senior Ross Corey was fourth in 16:29.8, also helping his team move on to the section finals. SHP's Garrett Mack (16:30.2) and August Howell (16:35.7) were fifth and sixth, respectively.