Carson grads hitting stride for Wolf Pack cross country
BY DARRELL MOODY
Nevada Appeal Staff Writer
Christy Works and Gloria Sosa were two reasons why Carson High School won the 2007 Class 4A girls cross country state championship.
Works and Sosa decided to attend the University of Nevada and have competed well this fall for the Wolf Pack, which concludes its season today with the Western Athletic Conference Cross Country Championships in Las Cruces, New Mexico.
Both will also compete on the Nevada track and field team.
Works, who had two top-20 finishes, will be on the starting line today with her teammates while Sosa is back in Reno nursing a fractured leg suffered after the second meet of the season. Nevada coach Kirk Elias is hoping Sosa will be granted a medical hardship redshirt year.
Works couldn’t curb her jubilation about getting to run in the conference meet as a freshman.
“I’m really excited,” she said, while taking a few minutes to relax after a workout on Wednesday. “At the beginning of the season, I didn’t think there was any way I would make it to the WACs. Halfway through the season I thought maybe I could if I worked very hard and focused on that.”
Elias, who watched Works at Carson in both cross country and track, admits he is just as surprised as Works.
“I thought she would be a speed-sided kid,” Elias said. “Kids like that don’t normally make the transition rapidly to cross country. It’s a big step. The level of competition is significantly more intense.”
Elias said Works earned her way into the WAC event by running well in a meet at Santa Clara. Works ran the 5-kilometer course in 19 minutes, 20 seconds, finishing sixth on the team.
“Our last meet was essentially a run-off,” Elias said. “We went to Santa Clara and (the entire team) ran in the same race so it was head-to-head competition. It was fairly clear cut. Christy was our No. 6 finisher that day, and I had held a young lady out. We could take nine, so she could fill in at No. 7.”
Works and Sosa share the same goal and Elias predicts that both will attain that at some point. Works’ best time is 19:18, while Sosa’s is 19:19.
“I’d like to get below 19 minutes,” Works said. “Hopefully I’ll break 19 minutes at the WACs. If not, then by next year. I’m just doing the best I can. I haven’t been in as good a shape as I am now.
“I should have finished better when I ran that 19:18. I have a bad habit of going out too fast. Coach said we should hold back at the beginning and go harder the second half and just pass people. I’ve had to adjust to that.”
Sosa also is hopeful of breaking the 19-minute barrier.
“I definitely want to get into the 18s,” said Sosa, who is probably more suited to cross country based on the fact that she ran the 1,600- and 3,200-meter races at Carson.
Elias thinks both could be around 18:30 by as early as next year.
One major adjustment both Works and Sosa had to make was the volume of running. Both said six miles a day and 25 weekly was probably the norm at Carson. At Nevada, they are running 40 miles a week, and sometimes work out twice a day.
“I like to challenge them,” said Elias. “The human organism is capable of adapting to anything if you give it enough time.”
Works admitted the first week was a bit much, but it’s been OK ever since.
“In talking to coach before the season, I had a good idea of how much we would be running,” Works said. “You don’t think about it until you start running. Six miles now is a short run for us.”
Both Sosa and Works have taken to the veteran Elias.
“He’s awesome,” Sosa said. “He really knows what he’s talking about.”
Another thing that has helped make the transition easier is the acceptance by their older teammates. Works and Sosa have proven to be competitive immediately and that’s helped immensely.
“Cross country is so team oriented,” Elias said. “A lot of the women enjoy the camaraderie. It’s tough to capture that in track and field. They are all friends. It’s a supportive group and also very welcoming and inclusive.”
ON TO TRACK
After today’s WAC event, Nevada charges right into a quick indoor track season and that will eventually move into the outdoor season.
Elias isn’t expecting to have Sosa ready for the indoor season, but expects her to be ready by the time the outdoor meets roll around.
“I won’t let her train (right now),” Elias said. “She has to attain a base level of fitness.”
Elias said that Sosa, who ran the mile and two-mile at Carson will concentrate on longer events this spring for the Wolf Pack.
“She will run the 3,000 and above I suspect,” Elias said. “She might even do the steeplechase. She may very well run the 5,000 and 10,000. Gloria is a little more on the long side (than Christy).”
Works said she actually prefers track because of the shorter distances, though she is quick to admit that running the longer cross country distances should help her immensely when it comes to track.
Works ran a 2:21 in the 800 last year, and she is hoping to shave several seconds off that time in the spring.
“Christy is going to be an 800 specialist,” said Elias, who added that Works could run some on relays. “In outdoor, we might have her run some 1,500s. I don’t want to move kids too much that first year. We’ll bring them up the ladder gradually.”
– Contact Darrell Moody at firstname.lastname@example.org or (775) 881-1281