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Gatorade dubs Lane California Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year

Claudia Lane (center, in blue), of Malibu, leads the pack of runners competing in the National Foot Locker Cross Country Championships late last year. for Foot Locker Cross Country
Malibu High sophomore Claudia Lane crosses the 5K finish line with a time of 17:05 5K at the National Foot Locker Cross Country Championships in San Diego Dec. 10. for Foot Locker Cross Country
Lauren Coughlin, Editor
9:15 am PST February 1, 2017

Malibu High School sophomore Claudia Lane is just getting warmed up, but one can only wonder what else is in store for her.

Last week, Gatorade announced that Lane was named the 2016-17 Gatorade California Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year. She is the first Malibu High School student to win the award, according to Gatorade.

“The award, which recognizes not only outstanding athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the racecourse, distinguishes Lane as California’s best high school girls cross country runner,” Gatorade’s release detailed.

Lane is now among finalists for the Gatorade National Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year award.

This is the latest in a series of accolades for the talented teen, who in December cruised her way to a national title at the 38th Annual Foot Locker Cross Country Championships National Finals with a 5K time of 17 minutes, 4.81 seconds.

For coach Mark Larsen, Lane has been a dream to coach all year long.

“To see her basically go throughout the year so strong and running so well has been exciting and fun, exciting and fun for her, but it’s been just as exciting and fun for me as a coach,” Larsen said. “I’ve coached some good runners, but I’ve never coached someone as good as Claudia.”

Larsen said he knew Lane was talented last year, but she was sidelined due to injuries. This year, he said he had to try to slow her down because there was no reason to push her limits — she was already taking the lead with ease.

“Every race we did up until the last two were practices for her,” he said. “They weren’t a race.”

“[Nationals] is really the only race where I said, ‘Go, get out there and go crazy,’” Larsen said.

And she did just that.

Larsen said Lane’s determination and grit make all the difference.

“There are very few people that are able to perform at that level when there’s no one to yell and scream at them, when they’re having to push themselves, when they’re out there alone,” Larsen said.

Time and time again, Lane has proven her talent. This year, she won the Division 4 individual state championship with a time of 16:45. She also showed her power at various invitationals and championships throughout the state.

“She has the athletic prowess, and she has the internal determination to get out there and to win, to push ... that’s just her, so, for me, it’s a joy. It doesn’t matter what I say to do, she’s like ‘OK, let’s do it,’ so it’s wonderful,” Larsen said.

This track season, Larsen wants Lane to focus on 800- and 1,600-meter races. In the latter, Larsen anticipates that Lane will notch finishes in the 4:50-4:55 range.

At nationals, Lane finished her first mile in 5 minutes, 18 seconds.

“For the most part, this track season is going to be about working on her turnover, increasing her foot speed, which will translate to having faster turnover for our cross country season next year,” he said.

Lane has a 4.0 GPA, Gatorade adds, and she volunteers on behalf of the National Charity League, Upward Bound House and the Fauna Foundation. She also founded the Every Elephant Matters club at Malibu High.

The player of the year honor from Gatorade allows Lane to give a grant, through the Gatorade Play It Forward program, to a youth sports organization of her choice. 

“Every Gatorade Player of the Year state winner receives a $1,000 grant to donate and will have the opportunity to enter for an additional $10,000 spotlight grant by writing a brief essay explaining why their selected organization deserves additional support,” the release stated. “Twelve spotlight grants – one for each sport – will be announced throughout the year.”

Lane could not be reached for comment by press time.