West Ranch boys and girls cross-country team made history this past season with both teams qualifying for the state meet for the first time in program history.
Girls runner senior Sophia Hoelzel played a big role in that feat.
Committing to continuing her cross-country and track career at UCLA on Nov. 14th, Hoelzel saw something different in this year’s team that led to such a productive cross-country season.
“This year we saw a connection between both teams supporting each other rather than the boys supporting the boys and the girls supporting the girls, so I just think we helped foster in that teammate connection,” Hoelzel said.
Consistently mentioned among the top three Wildcats girls runners throughout the year, Hoelzel saved her best for last.
At the CIF-Southern Section prelims in Riverside, Hoelzel beat her finish in 2017 by three seconds with a time of 18 minutes and 35 seconds, good for 12th place. A week later at the CIF-SS finals, and three days after committing to UCLA, Hoelzel improved her prelims time by almost 30 seconds to finish 36th, recording a time of 18 minutes and 5.63 seconds.
“At the beginning of the season I was struggling with iron issues, so once my coach identified the issues I started taking supplements to get my levels back up,” Hoelzel said. “Plus, this is my senior year so I really had the motivation to get my team to state, since I’ve never been before and I thought it was my last chance.”
At the state meet in Fresno, Hoelzel set a new personal best by three seconds, finishing the race in 19 minutes and 12.1 seconds to round out her West Ranch cross-country career.
At UCLA, Hoelzel will study political science in the hopes of pursuing a career in law or government and believes that she made the best decision to further both her academic and athletic career.
“On my official visit I loved the team and the coaches seemed very supportive and I think that’s the best place where I can succeed in both academics and athletics,” Hoelzel said. “They have a great political science program and that’s the path I’m looking forward to right now.
“…I just felt that it was a great fit so I think it will be a really fun time.”
With track season coming up, Hoelzel is looking forward to capping off her West Ranch career with another successful season, concentrating on two things in particular: the 1600-meter and winning a league crown.
“I love both sports, but I definitely think that I like track more,” Hoelzel said. “I’m looking forward to focusing on the 1600-meter this season and I also want to help my team get another league title. That would be awesome.”