• Crescent City’s Jenny Galvan joined the cross country team this season and had a smashing debut. (MARK BLUMENTHAL / Palatka Daily News)

2016 Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year: Quiet Confidence

Galvan believes big season could have been better

When asked if her debut season as a cross country runner was good, Jenny Galvan said it was.

But she adds something else.

“I wanted to make it to state,” she said. “I thought I’d get there.”

Confidence in a quiet manner. That describes the Crescent City High School freshman.

Galvan joined the team this fall through the insistence of her soccer coach, Drew Richardson, and all she did was own the year and earn Daily News Prep Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year honor, continuing the trend started by current teammate Hannah Malphurs, who won the last two years, but was sidelined by a serious knee injury this fall.

For the entire season, Galvan stayed consistent – her slowest time was 25:56 in a race she won on Sept. 6 at St. Augustine Florida Deaf & Blind School, her fastest time being 23:54 on the same D&B course on Sept. 20. She also ran 23:59 in a race on a flat course in Ocala on Oct. 15, three days after winning the All-Putnam Championship in 25:40, beating her closest competition, interlachen’s Esmeralda Santiago, by 93 seconds.

Galvan finished in the Top 4 in seven races she ran this fall and won five of those races, including the All-Putnam championship. She also qualified for the Region 2-2A championship when she finished ninth in 24:12 at The Villages Polo Club in the District 6-2A meet on Oct. 20.

“The first time I saw her practice, I knew she was going to be really good,” said Jen Ewbank, her cross country coach at Crescent City. “She really put her heart into it and after this season, she wants to do better for next year. And she’s trying to motivate others in the school to join the team. I’m looking forward to what the future brings.”

Especially if it’s a teaming of the outgoing Malphurs, who will be a senior next year, and the quiet Galvan.

“Hannah supported everything Jenny did and encouraged her,” Ewbank said. “I think that really helped Jenny a lot and I also think Jenny encouraged Hannah and she’s looking forward to her senior year. I think their two different personalities.”

Malphurs was there at the finish line at West Putnam Recreation Center when Galvan crossed the finish line first at the All-Putnam County championship meet.

“I feel like I’m in much better shape compared to last year, but it could be a little bit better than that,” the 5-foot-1, 95-pound Galvan said.

And Galvan has major goals for next season, including bringing her time down even further, which more than likely will qualify her for the state 2A meet, which would make her the first Crescent City runner to ever qualify for the state meet. Galvan said she may have been a little intimidated by the quality of runner competing in the region meet where she ran a respectable 24:25, but was only good enough to finish in 60th place as the 15th and final qualifier for the state 2A meet came across in 21:01.

“I need to do a little more and have my time around 19 minutes,” Galvan said. “It’s going to take some work, but I could probably get there.”

“I think she could’ve taken some time off of her pace, but I think there were times she was uncertain what she could,” Ewbank said. “This was a new experience for her and at regions, she didn’t do her best. I think regions might have been too much for her to handle.”

But Ewbank said that the best thing that happened to Galvan was getting as far as regions and at least seeing the atmosphere she was competing in, knowing what to expect of herself in the future.

“She’s extremely motivated and it was a good thing for her to go to the regions to see what it was like,” Ewbank said. “It’s given her confidence that she can make it to state next year.”

Which is why Galvan said she believes she can make it to state next year now she’s seen the competition.

“My confidence level will be much better now that I know what it’s like,” Galvan said.

“I think we’re going to see a lot out of her in the next few years,” Ewbank said. “She’s all about soccer (where she was an All-County player a year ago as an eighth-grader) and she loves the sport, but she has a love for running that’s come out. I can see her succeeding in cross country, too."

2016 All-County Girls Cross Country Team

AMANDA QUINBY

The 2014-15 Daily News Girls Soccer Player of the Year was persuaded by her soccer coach, Jacqueline Larsen, to go out for the cross country team. So all she did was pull out a year in which she finished in the top four in seven meets she ran and had times under 28 minutes all nine times she competed. Showing her natural athletic ability, the Interlachen High junior had a season-best 24:58 at the Region 2-2A meet after qualifying with a 15th-place finish in the District 5-2A meet at 27:19. She also ran a 25:39 at the Mountain Dew Invitational at the University of Florida and took third at the All-Putnam County meet when she finished in 27:28.

“She’s a very very driven young lady and she’s very focused,” Rams coach Ed Mingle said. “I think Amanda’s just very, very driven and she’s just knew what she wanted to accomplish. She has a nice stride and always at the front of the pack.”

ESMERALDA SANTIAGO

Like Quinby, Santiago went out for the cross country team so she can concentrate on having a big soccer season. And the Inerlachen sophomore wound up having a big cross country season: She took Top 5 in a race five times and her best time was 26:51 at a meet in September at the West Putnam Recreation Center. At the same center, she finished second at the All-Putnam County meet in 27:13. 

“For a lot of the year, she was leading our pack,” Mingle said. “I think she’s just a hard worker who pushed herself and continued to improve and increase her performance as the season went on.”

ROSE CLARK

The Interlachen High junior was steady throughout the season. She was a Top 5 finisher once, but it was at the right time when it mattered most – she was fifth at the All-Putnam County meet in October when she crossed the finish line in 28:33. It was her best time of the year. She also ran 28:50 at the Region 2-2A meet at Winter Park Trinity Prep, the first regional meet for the Rams’ girls team in 13 years.

“Rose just enjoyed running,” Mingle said. “She’s really quiet. She hardly even talks. She’s at practice every day and whatever it is you ask her to do, she’s just going to do that.”

TIONNA McCLAIN

She ran in just over half her team’s meets this season, but she recorded some very good times, finishing fourth in two races, one being at Florida Deaf & Blind  in 30:26 on Sept. 20, then fourth at the All-Putnam County meet in 27:46.. The Inerlachen senior’s best time came at the regional meet at Trinity Prep, when she crossed the line in 25:32.

“Tionna’s real outgoing with a wonderful attitude,” Mingle said of another of the soccer players brought to run cross country by Larsen, who acted as assistant coach this season. “She gave 150 percent when she was out there and kept improving all the time.”

– Compiled by Mark Blumenthal

Palatka Daily News

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