RANCHO PARK — Coming in 4th in the Liberty League Finals out of 56 runners, the youngest member of the team, freshman Leyla Namazie ’17, qualified for CIF finals. Leyla is the first in Archer cross country history to move past League Finals.
Proud sister Yasmeen Namazie ’15 says, “I have had the pleasure to see her improve as a runner and an athlete, and she has blown me away. She deserves this—all of her hard work has paid off, and I’m so excited to see her kill it on the course. Leyla has all of high school ahead of her, and she can only grow from here.”
CIF finals were held on Nov. 16 at the infamous Mt. SAC course. The starting gun went off at exactly 3:29 pm. In preparation for the meet, Leyla continued to practice one-on-one with Coach Mathis, staying in shape and boosting her strength.
Coach Mathis says, “Leyla has worked hard every single training session. She is a pleasure to coach because she is constantly using what she learns to actively improve her ability to compete. She is a natural competitor and brightens up the day. You wouldn’t know she was one of the youngest players on the team—she has a heart of gold.”
The day before the meet, Leyla told the Oracle, ”I can’t tell whether I am scared or excited about the race this Saturday. I have [run] Mount Sac before, and it is definitely very challenging, especially when you have to run without your team. It’s been so weird this week going to practice by myself.”
On meet day, Leyla was one of 17 other freshmen. She came in 54th place out of 106 high school runners. She also shaved 4 min off of her previous Mt. SAC time, running a 22 min 3.1 mile race.
After the meet Leyla shared her experience: “It was really scary at first because at the start line I was all by myself with a few other girls who were racing alone. It was really intimidating, but once we started running it wasn’t too bad. The race went by a lot faster than last time [at Mt. SAC], and it almost seemed easier, but at the same time it was still really difficult and tiring. I hate running hills like the ones at Mt. SAC, but now that I think about it, it was actually a lot of fun!”
“I am so thankful for my teammates who have provided the competitive edge that has helped me improve. I am also very thankful for Coach Mathis who has helped motivate and support me every day at practice and at meets. I have had such a great time in cross country this season, and I am so excited for the years to come!” Leyla concludes.
It is apparent that this young runner has a future ahead of her! We are looking forward to seeing how she grows as the years progress.
Featured Photo: Archer cross country team at the starting line for the Mt. SAC Invitational on Oct. 25. Photographer: Marcela Riddick ’16