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Palos Verdes High cross country runners Samantha Steman, left, and Savannah Scriven in Palos Verdes Estates on Monday, Aug. 26, 2019. (Photo by Scott Varley, Daily Breeze/SCNG)

Palos Verdes senior Savannah Scriven has put together a memorable finish to her high school cross country career.

Following a first-place finish at the CIF Southern Section Division 3 championships in Riverside Nov. 23, Scriven posted a second-place finish at the CIF State Division 3 championships in Fresno last Saturday.

"Last year, I imagined what it would be like to be a contender for a first-place finish at State and just the idea of it excited me," Scriven said. "This season, when it became something that felt very capable, my plan was to race to win. I also knew that winning depends on how other people do—if they have a great race or not. So my goal was to race as hard and as smart as I could."

Scriven finished Saturday's race in 17 minutes, 22 seconds. That time was not only her personal best, but it set a new mark for PV and was the fastest time from any South Bay school since 2014 (Amber Gore, Redondo).

"Savannah showed a lot of maturity with her approach," coach Brian Shapiro said. "She ran a really smart race."

Scriven had the tall task of trying to dethrone defending state champion Riley Chamberlain from Del Oro (Loomis, Calif.).

"I love feeling proud of myself that I pushed through the pain," Scriven said. "Each race, I want to show myself that I can endure more pain than the last. Another goal was to make this race hurt more than ever."

Chamberlain posted a 17:16 finish—six seconds better than Scriven's time, but good enough to help Scriven earn a spot at the Nike Cross Nationals in Portland, Oreg. Saturday, Dec. 9.

"This race my strategy was to put myself in the back of the front pack for the first mile, so that I could see the leader of the race (Chamberlain) but not be the fastest one so that I would have a stronger final 2 miles," Scriven said. "After the mile mark, I began to reel in (Chamberlain) and just kept pushing. The whole time I kept repeating in my head  “I’m not going to let her beat me.” I was focused on catching up to (Chamberlain) the whole time. The whole rest of the race I was gaining ground on her."

Despite a second-place finish, she was admittedly grateful for Chamberlain running the race she did.

"I’m grateful that (Chamberlain) actually did run so fast because she pulled me to a fast enough time to qualify for Nationals as an individual," Scriven said. "I never gave up even as I saw her finishing a few seconds in front of me. I’m thrilled to have come full circle since qualifying alongside my team as a freshman."

But the day was not just about Scriven.

Sam Steman's sixth place finish (18:07.4) helped PV earn fourth-place overall at the state meet. The week before, at the CIF-SS finals, Scriven and Steman finished 1-2, helping PV win the CIF-SS Division 3 championship.

"She had a great season and ran a great race (in Fresno)," said Shapiro of Steman. "She moved out here from Illinois during her freshman year, and she'll go down as a PV legend in her own right."

Steman's high school resume includes three state meet appearances and three top-10 finishes.

PV's next best finisher, Claire Hardesty, earned a 42nd place finish (19:24.7). Shapiro noted how tough it is to get each runner to run their best race on a day like last Saturday.

"What you want most is for everyone to have their best race on championship day," Shapiro said. "It's hard to get all seven going, and we missed on a few spots."

Maya Whitcomb and Anna Terrell are two of PV's other runners who Shapiro saw gain invaluable experience this season.

"Aside from Savannah and Samantha, we have a young group, and they made good strides through the course of the season," Shapiro said. "Claire showed a lot of growth, Maya was in her first year of cross country, and we asked a lot of her, and Anna is still learning how to run cross country at a high level."

PV's boys placed 11th at Saturday's CIF State meet, following a fifth-place finish at the CIF-SS finals the week before.

Jon Ward's finish was PV's best (16.17), but Shapiro also noted the inexperience of the boys squad after having to replace six of its seven starters from last years CIF-SS championship team.

"Frankie Reid was our lone returner, and it was Jon's first ever cross country season," Shapiro said.

Shapiro said Colin Lantz was one of PV's big surprises of the season, and the cross country team was full of a lot of first-time runners.

"We had a lot of young guys, and a lot played other sports," Shapiro said. "They all worked hard, and were determined to run at a high level."

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