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Auburn Griffith has sights set on Pacific View League championship

Auburn Grifith is smiling.
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Auburn Griffith can’t stand being on the sidelines.

She would rather run 10 miles on Mammoth Mountain on a bad foot instead of spending a day relaxing by the pool.

The No. 1 runner for the Rio Mesa High girls’ cross country team, Griffith has competed on an injured left foot for most of the season.

The rugged Spartan refused to take time off. Head coach Rick Torres was forced to pull the plug on Griffith, a junior, for a week.

“Auburn is a tough competitor,” Torres said. “She wants to improve as a runner so bad she didn’t want to admit she was injured. I had to tell her no more. It’s time to rest.”

Griffith was in pain watching her team practice this week. She spent most of her time at the school’s pool nursing her injury.

“This was supposed to be one of our toughest weeks of training,” Griffith said. “It (stinks) not being out there. I feel like I’m falling behind. I want to be in the best shape possible to help my team.”

The Spartans didn’t have any meets scheduled this week. Griffith’s on track to return for the Twilight Invitational, a 1.8-mile race at Lake Casitas in Ojai on Wed., Oct. 8.

She said she wants to lead the Spartans to Pacific View League team and individual titles.

Rio Mesa won the first league meet at Mission Oaks Park last week; Griffith placed second overall.

Griffith consistently runs near the 19-minute mark for three-mile races.

“This is by far my best year,” Griffith said. “Besides the injury, I was feeling great. I was cutting my time. My hard work was paying off. I just need to rest and come back stronger.”

Griffith, who finished sixth at league finals last fall, also had a setback in 2013. The Spartan fell during a race at Mission Oaks last season due to dehydration. She went to see a doctor and found out she was anemic—she was sidelined for three weeks.

Griffith said her health, aside from the nagging left foot, hasn’t been an issue this year.

“I’m very cautious now,” Griffith said. “I make sure to drink a lot of water and eat iron. So far I’ve been OK. I hope there aren’t any more injuries or health issues this season.”

She got her tenacious spirit from her older brother Matt, who ran for Rio Mesa before graduating in the spring.

Matt Griffith went to every Rio Mesa meet the first month of the season to cheer on his sister before he left to attend school at UC Santa Cruz.

“He would run next to the course and shout, ‘You can do it! Push yourself!’” Auburn Griffith said. “We train a lot together. He’s always pushing my limits. We’ve become very close through running.”

Auburn Griffith, who started running in sixth grade, encouraged her brother to try out for the Spartans as a freshman.

“Auburn isn’t the most vocal, but she knows how to lead by example,” said Torres, who’s coached at Rio Mesa for 33 years. “Her teammates notice how hard she works. Auburn never makes excuses. She’s all about getting better. No time to slack off.”

Griffith edged out Camarillo’s Kylee Yturralde in the 800-meter race for the track league finals in the spring. The Spartan crossed the finish line in 2 minutes, 24 seconds.

The daughter of Siony and Harry, Griffith enjoys eating pizza and watching baseball. Her oldest brother, Mo, played baseball at Rio Mesa.

Griffith was named the team’s MVP and selected to the All- Pacific View first-team last fall.

“I want to get back to CIF in track and cross country,” Griffith said. “Hopefully, I do better this time. I feel ready to take my running to the next level.”

CATCH UP WITH THE SPARTANS

The Rio Mesa High boys’ and girls’ cross country teams want to sweep Pacific View League foes this fall.

Both squads feature star runners: Jimmy FitzGerald is a favorite to win the individual crown on the boys’ side; Auburn Griffith leads the girls’ team.

The Spartan girls opened league action with a victory at Mission Oaks last week while the boys placed second.

Rio Mesa’s girls’ squad has a bright future with six underclassmen competing for one of the top seven spots.

Sophomore Devyn Weisenberger continues to improve as the team’s No. 2 runner. Lauren Silva, the No. 4 runner, has provided a boost after transferring from Hawaii this season. Captain Lauryn Pinsak is the lone senior. Molly Garcia, Anna Schneider, Denaya Wickett and Kyla Castillo contribute for the Spartans.

The Spartan boys are experienced and deep.

David Torres, the son of girls’ head coach Rick Torres, has improved on the trails. David Torres and FitzGerald are team captains.

Vincent Perillo, Brandon Boettcher, Jacob Hammond, Rosalio Ulloa and Vincent Medina round out the starting varsity lineup.

The Spartan boys want to bounce back after a disappointing fifth-place finish in league last season.

“We weren’t expecting that,” David Torres said. “We came back motivated and hungry. We can finish first this season. We have the best runner in Jimmy, and we’re all getting better.”

Get to know Auburn Griffith

Griffith is a standout runner for the Rio Mesa High girls’ cross country team. She’s a favorite to win the Pacific View League individual title this fall. Here are a few facts about the junior Spartan:

FAVORITES
 TV show: “Orange Is the
New Black”
 Subject: History
 Running shoe: Nike
LunarGlide
 Food: Pizza
 Favorite Rio Mesa
moment: Winning team MVP
 Music genre: Alternative
FAMILY
 Mother: Siony
 Father: Harry
 Brothers: Mo, Matt

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