Rookie of the Year: Lauren Lienau
School: Clovis North
Setting the pace: Her 18-minute, 23-second time over Woodward Park's 3.1-mile course was a school freshman class record, placed fifth in the Central Section Division I race and was the section's sixth-best time overall for the season. The section's only other freshman to break 19 minutes was Buchanan's Taylor Gonzales (18:45). Lienau was fifth among freshmen in the CIF State Championship D-I race and 47th overall at 18:38.
All in the family? Not really: It wasn't necessarily automatic that Lienau was going to be a runner in a family in which father — and Clovis North coach — Jason Lienau ranks 11th all-time among section boys in the 1,600 at 4:12.45. He was a section champ and sixth-place finisher in that event at Clovis High in 1987. He has a junior daughter, Anna, and a seventh-grade son, Reed, who aren't competitive runners. "More than anything," dad says, "we just encourage our kids to do something active. I've tried not to directly sway them into running."
Short to long: Running distance was actually new to Lauren Lienau, who had concentrated on sprints and jumps before high school. Turns out, she displayed an ideal balance of speed and endurance as the No. 3 runner on a team that won the section D-I title and finished No. 5 in the state. "I wasn't expecting this at all," she says. "I expected to be the eighth or ninth runner on the team, not to make varsity at all. I really like distance running a lot; it's definitely now my favorite."
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