Hancock College sophomore Brianna Magana has reaped the fruits of running cross country full time.

Magana is the first Hancock female runner in eight years to qualify for the California Community College Athletic Association (CCCAA) Women's State Cross Country Championship. The meet will take place at 10 a.m. Saturday at the 5K course at Woodward Park in Fresno.

The Righetti High School graduate qualified for the state meet by finishing 73rd in a field of 169 runners at the Southern California Regional Championships at Central Park in Santa Clarita.

Hancock did not advance to the state meet as a team, but Magana made it with room to spare. The top 20 individuals from non-qualifying teams advanced, and Magana was 16th among individuals from non-qualifying teams.

Magana worked hard in her training last year. The Righetti High School graduate just couldn't work full time at running.

"I injured my achilles heel early in the season, so I would be on the (exercise) bicycle all week, and then run with the team (in meets) on Fridays," said Magana.

Besides, "I'd have to leave practice early because of babysitting."

Her health improved and her work schedule more flexible, Magana has been able to been able to become the full-time runner she has always wanted to be and, she said, it's shown in her times.

"The coaches have looked at my times from this year compared to last year and said, 'Wow. Those times have gotten a lot faster. What happened?,'" Magana said.

Besides, veteran Hancock cross country coach Louie Quintana said, "Brianna brought into the (training) program we laid out in August. She's done everything she's supposed to (in terms of training), and that's paid off in the long run."

Magana was active in extra curricular activities during her time at Righetti. She just didn't start running cross country until her senior year there.

"I did cheer. I did water polo and swimming for three years," she said.

"I just liked doing something that other people thought was hard," said Magana. "If something seems hard, just think of something harder. (For me), I think of running 15 miles," during a challenging shorter training run.

As her senior year at Righetti progressed, "It became like a game, to try and catch the runners in front of me," she said.

Magana said she didn't get to the top spot on the Righetti team she ran on. However, she did eventually become Hancock's top runner this year.

Even though her times kept dropping, a spot in the state meet wasn't exactly on Magana's mind most of the season.

"I was scared (that a berth in the state met was unlikely)," she said. "Our No. 1 runner last year (Vanessa Avila) was really good, and she missed making it by one or two spots.

"I was always underestimating myself, I guess."

As she approached the homestretch of her season, Magana said, the possibility of running in the state meet became more real to her and, "I started to push more."

At the So Cal Championships, "I prayed to God, and I think it helped," she said. "We prayed before the race."

Magana did not run track for Quintana last year. She sad she might this spring, but that it is far from a guarantee.

"My schedule's going to be so busy — three science classes and a match class, and two of those science classes have labs - so it will be hard," to make time to run track, said Magana.

For now, Magana is concentrating on running at the highest level in California junior college cross country, the state meet.   

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Sports Reporter