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Glendale Community College's Lizzy Nelson prepares for her final laps at Woodward Park

Vaqueros sophomore remembers when she 'hated' running as she prepares for last race.

November 22, 2013|By Andrew J. Campa, andrew.campa@latimes.com
  • Glendale Community College sophomore cross-country runner Elizabeth Nelson at the college track in Glendale on Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2013. Nelson will compete in the CCCAA State Finals on Saturday, Nov. 23, 2013.
Glendale Community College sophomore cross-country… (Raul Roa / Staff…)

There’s a certain poetic justice in the fact that Glendale Community College sophomore runner Lizzy Nelson will conclude her cross-country days, at least locally, at Woodward Park in Fresno this Saturday morning.

Nelson, a Burbank resident, is hoping to lead the GCC women’s team to a ninth straight top-three finish at the 50th annual California Community College Athletic Association Cross-Country Championships.

Glendale will run at 10 a.m.

As Nelson reflected on her season Wednesday afternoon, she couldn’t help but smile, then ultimately giggle.

“When I started running, I hated it. I did not want to do it,” she said. “That was for my dad, my mom, my brother, but not me. There was one thing I knew when I was little and that was that I would never be a runner.”

Then came a pause.

“But here I am,” Nelson added.

Nelson, the daughter of famed Burbank High and GCC runner Jeff Nelson and current GCC assistant coach Kathryn Nelson, is making her ninth visit to Woodward Park.

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Yet, Saturday marks only the fourth time Elizabeth Nelson will compete in an official capacity as her first trip came when Nelson, then an eighth-grader, accompanied her mother, who at the time was an assistant coach at powerhouse Saugus High.

“She kind of dragged me. I used to go watch the meets with her,” Lizzy Nelson said. “I remember watching the different Saugus teams and still thinking that wasn’t for me.”

In high school at Saugus, Lizzy Nelson traveled with the Centurions’ squad on their annual runs to state glory, never getting a chance to compete in the state championship race.

“Those were some really amazing teams. I just remember people from all over the state and even some from outside talking about Saugus High,” Nelson said. “It was fun being a part of the program.”

The first time Nelson ever officially ran at Woodward Park was as a member of the GCC women’s team at last year’s state preview meet. She later set her personal record at Woodward Park at last year’s state finals, when she finished 11th in 18:51:21, while Glendale ultimately took second with 100 points to Orange Coast College (79 points).

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