Finnane Earns National Championship Berth

Toni+Finnane%2C+shown+here+at+the+CIF+championships+has+continued+to+impress+in+her+rookie+season.+

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Toni Finnane, shown here at the CIF championships has continued to impress in her rookie season.

Nick Johnson, Staff Writer

Toni Finnane extended her storybook cross country season another week with a 5th place finish at the Foot Locker West Regionals in Walnut on the Mt. San Antonio College campus.

The meet is the annual national championship qualifier for the western United States, including competitors from California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Idaho, Montana, Alaska and Hawaii.

The top 10 finishers advance to the high school national championships to be held in Balboa Park, San Diego.

“The plan was for Toni and her teammate Brighie Leach to settle into the top 20 after the mile and be aggressive on the hills and downhills that make up the remaining 2 miles of the course,” said coach Chuck Woolridge.

“It was definitely a competitive atmosphere, since I was racing against many of the top runners in the region, but it was also exciting to be around a bunch of people who love to do what I love to do,” said Finnane, who finished the 5 kilometer race in 18 minutes and 14 seconds.

Woolridge has been impressed with Finnane’s rise to the top. “Given that this is the first year that she has competed in cross country, its quite unexpected that she would qualify for the Foot Locker national championship, an event that only one other Campolindo athlete has ever qualified to compete in,” he said.

According to Finnane, she joined the cross country team because she enjoys running, and her teammates are supportive. “I have a big passion for the sport and my teammates were constantly  helping me and encouraging me,” she said.

According to Woolridge, Finnane’s fall training is not the only factor in her remarkable success. “Toni is an incredibly gifted endurance athlete, who trained on her own prior to joining the cross country team and that commitment to fitness and healthy nutrition, along with her incredible work ethic and competitive drive, have all come together to make her successful in this sport,” he said.

The Foot Locker National Championship meet will be held on December 13.

Finnane is happy she made the choice to run cross country, late as it was in her high school career. “It ended up better than I could have imagined,” she said.