The Cardinal boys’ and girls’ teams compete at the state championships in same season for first time in school’s history
By Patrick Dillon @PDillon_SGN
FRESNO – The sudden rise of McKaylie Caesar on the courses was a shock—a surprise really. She came bursting out of the pack, and will now be remembered as one of the best runners Lindsay has ever seen.
Caesar’s two-and-a-half-year ascension was one filled with accolades. She won back-to-back individual East Sequoia League titles, led the Cardinals to the 2018 girls team league title, captured two straight Division IV Valley Championships, and last Saturday, Nov. 24, had the best finish of any Cardinal at the state championships when she finished 10th.
Still, the senior says that she did not get to where she was by herself.
“I was supported by a super great team, and had a tone of teammates who pushed me along this journey,” Caesar said. “Without them, I wouldn’t have been able to do what I did.”
Caesar was not going to set the bar lower in her senior year. The expectations of breaking the 18-minute mark and finishing top three at state where set when she walked off the same course in 2017 with tears in her eyes after a 22nd place finish.
All season, Caesar had set herself up to fulfill those goals by treating each race as a chance to fulfill those goals. On the track it had translated into 11 top-three finishes including eight wins.
Finally, Caesar was back at the Division IV State Championships with her purpose as fresh as it ever was and, with the defending national champion Malibu’s Claudia Lane absent, the door was open.
In what has become Caesar’s trademark start, she was out in front from the start, leading the first mile at 5:28. But instead of running on her own, seven other runners had stayed with her.
“It felt good to be out in front, but I knew there were a lot of girls behind me pushing me,” Caesar said.
If Caesar kept that pace, she’d finish at 16:24. A time she had not flirted in her career, and as the group reached the backside of the first hill Caesar began to fall back in the group. She was not able to recover and clocked a time of 18:24.90 for the top ten finish.
“Honestly I wish I could have done better,” Caesar said. “I jut pushed myself and gave it my all,”
While Caesar might have been disappointed with her results head coach Joe Dixon was pleased.
“In running it is a performing based sport, but one thing I know for certain she tried her best, and she has nothing to feel bad about,” Dixon said.
Caesar’s running has made Dixon’s job easy in his first year when it comes to results on the course, but he has been more taken back at the leadership qualities.
“She has been like an assistant coach this year,” Dixon said. “She leads by example. Her performance bar is set as high as you can get it, and the other girls try and hit her mark.”
The Cardinals’ girls team compete at the state championships for the second year in a row. They finished 21st with 501 points.
Lindsay was also represented in the Division IV boys race for the first time in their school’s history. Their first race resulted in a 22nd place finish with 600 points. Victor Cisneros finished in 114th place with a time of 17:21.20.