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Santa Ynez grad Emily Donahue hopes to get back on track next year

Santa Ynez grad Emily Donahue hopes to get back on track next year

After a decorated distance running career at Santa Ynez High School, Emily Donahue has two cross country seasons under her belt at San Diego-based Point Loma.

She hopes to get a collegiate track season in - next year.

“I had a stress fracture my freshman year,” so that cancelled her potential first collegiate track season after what she described as a successful initial collegiate cross country campaign.

In the wake of COVID-19, the coronavirus, sports across the country were cancelled before Donahue could run a track race in 2020.

She is still running. The Point Loma sophomore is just not racing. Running is one activity health officials have actually encouraged during a statewide shelter-in-place directive, and Donahue has taken advantage of that opportunity.

“I’m fortunate to live in an area where I can train regularly,” said Donahue. She said she was home in Santa Ynez and taking online classes before the college semester ended.

Donahue noted that a lot of people, actually, have taken advantage of the opportunity to run during this time.

“Everyone’s a runner now,” she said. “That’s awesome.”

Donahue ran for a Point Loma team that won the 2018 Pac West Conference championship when Donahue was a freshman, though Donahue wasn’t one of the scoring runners for the Sea Lions.

Point Loma qualified for the NCAA Division II Cross Country Championships Donahue’s freshman year. The Sea Lions did not make it that far in 2019.

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Donahue finished a solid 44th out of 269 runners at the Lewis Crossover Invitational at Lewis University in Romeoville Illinois in October of her freshman year.

She ran the 6K course in 23 minutes, 6 seconds that day, her best time over a 6K to date.

The longest high school cross country race is traditionally a 5K and Donahue, who has always preferred longer races, said she prefers the 6K.

“I like the extra (kilometer of a 6K),” she said. “It gives me a longer time to build up. The second half of the race is usually my strongest.”

That was true for Donahue when she won the CIF Southern Section Division 4 championship in the 3,200 her sophomore year at Santa Ynez.

She won multiple track league championships during her high school track career as well. Still, though she was a more decorated athlete in track than cross country during her time at Santa Ynez, “I like cross country best,” Donahue said.

That is because, you guessed it, the race distance is longer.

When she does get to have a collegiate track season, “I’ll run the 5,000,” Donahue said. That is the longest collegiate track distance.

Coming off the stress fracture, Donahue could not match her freshman cross country marks during her sophomore collegiate cross country season.

She did finish a fairly solid 59th out of 96 runners at the 2019 Pac West Championships. Donahue was the third runner home for a Point Loma team that finished seventh in a field of 12.

“I didn’t have the sophomore cross country season I hoped to have but, coming off the injury, I was happy with it” said Donahue.

Donahue looks forward to the day she can return to the gorgeous Point Loma campus that sits on the San Diego waterfront. She also looks forward to the day she can rejoin her teammates.

“It’s a beautiful campus, I love going to school there,” she said. “The people there are beautiful. I love being on the track team.”

Donahue is an exercise and sports science major at Point Loma. She hopes to go into occupational therapy.

Player of the Decade: We're looking for the top player of the last 10 seasons

The sports staff at the Santa Maria Times, Lompoc Record and Santa Ynez Valley News is looking for the top football player from Northern Santa Barbara County and San Luis Obispo County over the last 10 seasons of high school ball.

See who our nominees are thus far.


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Sports Reporter

Kenny Cress, sportswriter for the Santa Maria Times since September of 2000. BA in political science from Cal Poly Pomona. BA in journalism from Cal State Northridge.

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