Sky is the Limit

Phillip Brents

Fri January 30, 2015 11:15am

Take note, Eastlake High School may have another superwoman in the making.
Vianney Campos earned 12 varsity letters during her four-year athletic career at EHS in girls field hockey, basketball and softball. She graduated in 2003 and is now the head coach for women’s field hockey at UC Davis.
Gillian Stargensky wasn’t far behind with 11 varsity letters in girls field hockey, girls soccer and girls lacrosse. She graduated in 2014.
Freshman Leyla McFarland is working on her second varsity letter in her first season as a Titan. She earned accolades during the fall cross country season and is now getting her kicks as a member of the school’s girls soccer team.
McFarland could be the school’s next wonder woman.
Mark Coziahr has had the privilege of coaching her in both sports so far. He describes her attitude as “contagiously positive.”
“She comes around the other players and brings a great attitude every day, and has contributed to the great culture we already have at Eastlake High School,” Coziahr explained. “She’s also very humble. She’s set several cross country records, but seeing her around campus, you’d never know it. She’s very humble about it.”
So far, McFarland’s unbridled enthusiasm has conquered all, though she remains a woman of few words. “Ummmmm, yeah!” she usually exclaims when taking note of a superior achievement on her part.
Obviously, McFarland has let her actions speak for themselves.
She finished as the top female individual at the 2014 Metro Conference cross country championship meet. She won the girls varsity race by a 3.5-second margin over two-time returning state meet qualifier Darla Osuna of Otay Ranch High School.
McFarland and Osuna finished 1-2 among Mesa League individuals and renewed their rivalry the following week at the San Diego Section Division I finals. Osuna placed second among Division I individuals while McFarland was fifth. Twenty-four seconds separated the pair that week.
The two league standouts both advanced to the state championship meet as individual qualifiers. McFarland finished as the second-highest finisher from the San Diego Section in the Division I girls race, placing 34th overall among 199 finishers. Osuna was right behind in 35th place — one second behind McFarland.
Both trailed Torrey Pines senior Jacqueline Garner, the San Diego Section champion, who placed 16th overall with a time of 18:28.
McFarland timed 18:53 while Osuna timed 18:54.
Osuna had placed 22 seconds behind Garner at the section division finals.
The girls ran a 5K race at the state championship meet — a first for McFarland on the season. Coziahr said McFarland handled the challenge well.
McFarland obviously made up a lot of ground.
“At the CIF divisionals, Leyla tried to pace the girl from Torrey Pines, the eventual race winner, the first mile, and that didn’t work out,” Coziahr explained. “At state, Leyla kept pace with Darla, who she had run against before and was more familiar with, and was able to make a push at the end.”
Amazingly, it was the first time McFarland, a highly decorated youth soccer player, had ever attempted competitive running. Initially, he had envisioned using cross country as cross-training for the upcoming soccer season.
“She’s definitely competitive in her nature and likes winning races, and she’s fallen in love with the sport,” Coziahr said. “Early on, in summer workouts, we knew she was fast but we didn’t know just how fast. It was in her first varsity race, at the Vaquero Stampede at Lindo Lake, that she surprised us when she ran a 5:30 for the first mile of the race and won the race by nine seconds ahead of the second-place girl.”
Coziahr sees McFarland excelling in cross country in the future.
“If she stays healthy and remains enthusiastic, I think she could challenge for an individual CIF championship next season,” the EHS coach said. “I think the sky is the limit for her.”
Getting her kicks
McFarland, a freshman forward, is no stranger to being on the big stage after winning a U13 U.S. Youth Soccer National Championship last summer with the San Diego Surf.
It was the ninth national championship overall for the club. The competition started with 10,000 teams and 185,000 players from across the country.
The Surf has firmly established itself as an elite club after winning back-to-back Cal South National Cup title at the U13 age level.
The team will compete at the U14 level this season.
McFarland has managed to crack the Titans’ starting line-up as a freshman and has acquitted herself well in her first high school season. In the Titans’ 9-1 start to the 2014-15 season, she had scored three goals and one assist.
“We actually have four freshmen on the varsity team,” Coziahr said. “She brings a lot of speed to the field that complements her very good technical ability. She reads the game very well for a very young player. Just like in cross country, she has seamlessly fit in with the rest of the team. She’s just such a positive person.”
What’s next?
Coziahr sees McFarland possibly competing in the 800- or 1,600-meter running events during the spring track and field season.
“I see her running with a lot of speed and quickness in those events,” Coziahr said. “She might even help out with the 4x400 relay team.”
Coziahr doesn’t coach track. David Koopman will inherit the Titans’ new wonder woman during the spring sports campaign.
“I’m sure he’ll figure out where best to place her,” Coziahr said.
McFarland said she is already looking forward to competing in the spring.