Malibu’s Caroline Pietryzk capped off a sensational regular season in cross country by being chosen the Most Valuable Player in the Tri-Valley League this year. Her efforts earned her an opportunity to compete in the CIF Cross Country Division IV Preliminaries at Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut on Saturday morning at 11:15 a.m.
“We are so proud of her,” Malibu coach Karen Costello said. “She has had an amazing season and hopefully there is more to come.”
The honor comes just as the Malibu cross country team concluded its regular season last Saturday at the TVL championships in Ojai. Pietryzk (18:24) came in second against the Tri-Valley League’s other top female runner, Emma Flemming of Oaks Christian (18:18), in a contest that went down to the wire. It was a close battle throughout as the league’s two best females went stride for stride at the 3-mile Lake Casitas Course in Ojai.
Flemming and Pietryzk, both sophomores, came across the first mile together in a time of 5:45. At the halfway point, Pietryzk slowly took the lead by mere steps. By the two-mile mark they were even, but in the final 200 meters Flemming outkicked Pietryzk to claim the win.
Pietryzk, however, garnered enough points over the three league meets to outduel Flemming for the league’s highest honor. She took first, third and then second in the three league races.
Freshman Charlotte Jackson was named to the second-team All-TVL after finishing 11th in the varsity girls race with a personal record time of 20:12. Freshman Caitlin Meyers (20:41) and sophomore Carmen Flood (22:16) were named to the Honorable Mention All-TVL Team.
Junior Dyer Pettijohn ran a personal best time of 17:47 to finish 25th overall in the boys varsity race. Pettijohn received Honorable Mention All-TVL honors along with fellow juniors Aidan Pasucci (18:51) and Erik Rosenberg (19:31).
Currently ranked ninth in all of Division IV in California, Pietryzk finished ninth in the Ventura County Cross Country Championships earlier in the week. Competing against the nation’s top-ranked female high school cross country runner, Sara Baxter from Simi Valley High, Pietryzk ran an 18:59 while Baxter won the race in an incredible time of 17:15 at Lake Casitas.
With more than 120 runners competing in the meet, Pietryzk earned All-Ventura County honors.
Jackson (21:35) and Meyers (21:58) finished second and fourth, respectively, out of 129 runners in the girls frosh/soph race.
Pettijohn (18:14) and Rosenberg (18:59) led the boys by recording more than one-minute improvement each from last year’s times.
Pietryzk has had a year to remember. She began the season finishing second in the Fastback Shootout at Mt. SAC. She then established a new course record at the Woodbridge Invitational on Sept. 15 finishing first out of a field of 126 competitors.
She followed that remarkable performance up with back-to-back victories at the first Tri-Valley League meet and at the Brentwood Invitational.
The 5-foot-3, 110-pound Pietryzk also took second at the Palos Verdes Cross Country Invitational and first in the girls sophomore Division IV and V combined race at the prestigious Mt. SAC Invitational.
“Caroline continues to progress steadily,” Costello said. “She’s right where she needs to be for this time of the season. Right now we’re focusing on getting her fine-tuned for the championship meets.”
Pietryzk’s quest continues this weekend at the CIF Prelims, with hopes of qualifying for the CIF Cross Country Championships to be held at Mt. SAC on Sat., Nov. 17.