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Sailors' Blue starting to realize potential

October 16, 2004

Chris Yemma

As a freshman, Newport Harbor High standout cross country runner

Whitney Blue absolutely did not want to take a physical education

class.

She said she wasn't really into the whole "athletic scene."

So Blue found a loophole. She figured out she could join the cross

country team, and that would count toward the physical education

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credits.

Two years later, as a junior this season, Blue has finished first

overall in three out of four of the races she has competed in.

When she was a freshman she was flaky and didn't care about cross

country. Now she wants to place first in her remaining meets this

year, lead her team as a senior next season, and then go on to run in

college.

And she is just now realizing her potential.

Her last race, on Oct. 6, Blue placed first overall in a Sea View

League meet at Irvine Park, where runners from Newport, Foothill,

Irvine, Woodbridge and Laguna Hills were competing.

The only meet she hasn't won this season was the Woodbridge

invitational, where she was competing against two of the best runners

in the state -- Corona's 4-foot-9, 72-pound Alma Escobar from outside

Orange County lines and Woodbridge's Jessie Babcock.

"I knew she was talented," Newport Harbor girls cross country

coach Eric Tweit said. "She's not a very big girl, but she's very

aggressive and confident.

"In the last few weeks, she has started to gain an idea of how

good she can be and how hard she needs to work. She is definitely one

of the favorites in Orange County."

When it comes to size, Tweit is right about Blue not being a big

girl. But in cross country, it's more intimidating to be a stick than

a behemoth. At 5-foot-4, 90 pounds, Blue is no Escobar, but she is

certainly close.

At the Mt. Sac invitational on Oct. 23, Blue will be racing

against all the top runners, including Escobar and Babcock again.

"Last year at Mt. SAC I wasn't great," Blue said. "I wasn't really

mentally ready for it. This year I'm ready to go and try it again. I

hope our team places well and I hope I do really well individually."

After Blue picked up cross country her freshman year, it dawned on

her that she liked running. So, she joined the track team later that

year, and she got into that, too. Her second year in track she went

to the CIF Southern Section finals in the 1,600 meters.

"Sophomore year I was all gnarly about it," she said about cross

country and track. "It kept me motivated and I realized I was good.

And I met so many more people that I love hanging out with now."

Tweit said Blue has the right mind frame to be a leader on his

team. She is a great competitor, who performs best in races, he said.

"I get a little scared when kids get good overnight," he said.

"But with Whitney it has been two years as a process."

He added that Blue would make an excellent runner in college, but

said he didn't want to get ahead of himself.

"In college some people want to do the social scene, and that can

really take time away from athletics," Tweit said.

But, so far, Blue has laid that issue to rest, saying she wants to

run in college, "for sure."

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