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Cyclone Spotlight

Elese Lesback

It was getting dark by the time distance runners Adina Lepp and Hanako Hjersman raced the 5000 meters at the Chabot Relays, held at Chabot College on April 4 and 5, but the two track and field Cyclones were undaunted both by the long day and the long race-even though it was the first time either of them had raced this distance on the track.

The 3.1-mile race often scares off the more timid distance runners who cannot conceive of going around and around a track for twelve and a half laps, but Adina and Hanako were undaunted.

Adina started the race with the race leaders, and came through her first mile in 6:30, a time only seconds off her best mile time this season. She continued for two more miles, never giving up the fight, clocking lap after controlled lap even faster than she had planned, and ended the race with an impressive third-place finish and a time of 21:10, shattering her cross country personal best time of 22:16.

We had talked a lot about this race ahead of time, because the 5k can be daunting on the track, both psychologically and physically. I gave both Adina and Hanako goal paces to shoot for based on their best track and field performances this season, and both of them blew past those times and ran even faster than anticipated. They’re getting to see the benefit of having back-to-back seasons of running; it’s exciting to see the team so fit and so confident on and off the track.

In addition to running a new personal best time, Adina set a new 5k school record. Mills finished second as a team at the Chabot Relays, and was filled with many more personal records and new school records.

This weekend at the Johnny Mathis Invitational at San Francisco State, Adina will try the grueling 3000m steeplechase, an event that includes solid hurdle barriers and a water pit. You can join the Mills fan van and support Mills track and field by coming to watch the meet.

Cyclone Spotlight

Elese Lebsack

In their first relay track meet of the year at the Beaver Relays in Sacramento, distance runners Hanako Hjersman, Adina Lepp, Lupe Cazares, and Gloria Huerta faced a difficult decision.

They were scheduled to run the 4x1600m relay as one of the meet’s final events, but Gloria pulled a muscle in the previous race. Adina and Lupe had joined Gloria in the 4×800, and were feeling the fatigue that comes with having raced well.

In the true spirit of the enthusiasm and drive that has been characteristic of this inaugural Mills track and field team, they decided to run the race anyway.

Hanako clocked even splits and ran a personal best of 7:14, a 16-second improvement from her previous mile performance. She handed off the baton to Adina, who chased after the opposing teams as if every bit of her performance counted, and also ran a personal best time of 6:24. Lupe was the third and final leg of the relay, and dramatically closed the gap between herself and a De Anza runner, clocking a solid time of 5:59 to end the race for Mills.

The threesome competed again the following weekend with an even more impressive performance at the Capital Classic Relays, this time in the 1500m, where they all ran new personal best times. Lupe won the heat in 5:21, with Adina and Hanako trailing behind her with times of 5:46 and 6:42 respectively.

The Mills track and field team will compete on April 4 and 5 at the Chabot Relays in Hayward, and again the following weekend at the Johnny Mathis Invitational in San Francisco.

Cyclone Spotlight

Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner

It was below freezing in Humboldt at the Blue Heron Regatta. The temperature never got above forty degrees that morning, but if sophomore coxswain Jennifer Courtney was uncomfortable as she guided her team through three races, she never showed it.

As the coxswain, Jennifer was the guide and motivator for the Varsity 8, Varsity 4, and Junior Varsity 4, a job that had her on the water for three back to back races that lasted for a total of three and a half hours. While it was admirable that Jennifer never complained and did her job well all morning, her response to a crisis in the Varsity 8 race earned her a place in the Cyclone Spotlight.

At the start of the race, the Mills team was in the lead when a malfuntioning rudder sent the boat to the left 200 meters off course, and Jennifer had to act immediately. She did the thing you are never supposed to do in a race situation: she told some of her rowers to back off and stop pulling so hard. The decision had to be made in a split second, took tremendous courage and level-headedness, and allowed the boat to get back on course. They were not able to regain their lead, but they did come within four seconds of placing.

“Making that decision took a lot of guts and understanding of the sport,” said Head Rowing Coach Wendy Franklin-Willis.

“Jennifer’s nickname is J Fierce, because she’s got this great, quiet intensity. I think she’s really coming into her name. She’s good at what she does, and she’s only getting better.”

Cyclone Spotlight

Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner

This week’s Cyclone Spotlight features Lisa Kelly of the Mills tennis team, where she has recently stepped up as a leader on the team and named co-captain (along with Jenn Johnson) for her efforts. In their Feb. 12 match against Sierra College, the 2007 Cal State JC Champions, Mills tennis players faced tough competition, and would ultimately not win the competition.

Even so, Lisa played a strong game and had the best results of anyone in that match, losing 6-3, 6-3 at #1 doubles and 6-0, 7-5 at #4. While Lisa and her teammates didn’t beat Sierra College in this particular competition, Lisa’s efforts and leadership on the team will surely play out for the Mills tennis team’s success in future competitions.

“Lisa’s got the kind of intensity that can motivate others,” said head coach Marc Weinstein of his choice to name Lisa as one of the team captains. “Her ability to lead with her actions made her an easy choice as team captain.”

Lisa Kelly and her teammates competed against La Sierra, Cal Tech, and Whittier last weekend during their trip to Southern California. You can watch them on the Mills courts on Friday, March 14, where they will play Notre Dame de Namur.

Cyclone Spotlight

She hadn’t stepped on the track for years, but senior Cappy Shapiro didn’t let that stop her from going full speed ahead at the Skyline All-Comers’ Meet on Jan. 26, the Mills track and field team’s first meet of the season.

When Cappy was given the option by her coaches to compete in up to four events at the meet, she immediately signed up for all four. It kept her busy most of the day, but she competed well in the 4x100m relay, the 200m dash, the discus and the shot put.

Cappy was a lover of track and field in high school, where she was a thrower and sprinter and was excited when the Mills athletic department announced last spring that track and field would be added as an NCAA sport in 2008.

She had been away from the sport for over three years, which meant that her throwing and sprinting skills were a little rusty.
Still, she jumped into the 4x100m relay, an event she never did in high school that required her learning a new relay handoff the day of the race, and ran 32.91 in the 200m just minutes after completing the shot put and discus, where she threw 29’11.5″ and 80′ 1.25″ respectively.

This is the first time I’ve worked with Cappy, but already I can tell that she’s going to be a driving force on our team.
The first week of practice I heard her say, “I’m so incredibly sore, and I love it,” and she wasn’t being facetious.

She loves working hard, and that will not only help her, but it’ll challenge the team to approach their sport with the same enthusiasm and dedication. She’s been away from the sport for a little while, but it’s clear t she’s determined to have an impressive comeback.


Bonne Marie Bautista

Although the semester is coming to a close for most Mills students, it is ending in a more profound way for graduating senior Erin Lucas. The semester’s completion will mark not only the end of her time at Mills College, but the end of her fruitful career on the Mills Swimming Team.

Erin has been a part of the team for three years, and on Nov. 9 and 10 at the two east coast meets, her experience played a key role as she stepped up as a leader on the team, keeping everyone on task, supporting every swimmer and maintaining focus on her sport.

On Nov. 11, her contributions in the 200 Free Relay and 200 Medley Relay posted victories over St. Joseph’s College, helping Mills College with a win over St. Joseph’s College of New York.

“Her presence on the team over the course of two long days was exemplary,” said Head Coach Neil Virtue.

“We will miss Erin’s energy, athleticism, supportive nature, progress in the face of adversity, and the way she brings other athletes on the team along with her as she works toward her goals.”

Cyclone Spotlight

When Sophomore Perla Cantu joined the Mills Cross Country team as a freshwoman last fall, it was her first time in any sport. Although she improved drastically during her first season and became a top five runner by mid-season, she was plagued by shin splints before the last race.

Perla has emerged this season as the team’s solid number three runner. Perla ran a lifetime best in Fresno with a time of 23:02, a one-minute and 31-second improvement from her best time last season. Perla had placed 20th overall at the Cal Pac Championships in Crystal Springs. In Fresno, she not only improved her performance, but finished ahead of several women who had beaten her before. Head Coach Laura Davis is confident that this is only the beginning of Perla’s success.

“Perla has had the desire to be a strong, fast runner for a long time, but this season she took that to a new level,” said Coach Davis.

Cyclone Spotlight

This week’s Cyclone of the Week is Freshwoman Emily Meike, the Mills College goalkeeper who helped the soccer team finish their season Saturday, Oct. 27 with a win against William Jessup.

A month ago, William Jessup beat Mills with a final score of 6-0. This time around, Emily protected a 2-1 victory over William Jessup with 11 saves, ending her first season with the Cyclones with 131 saves in 13 games.

Emily was named the Association of Division III Independents women’s soccer Player of the Week for her game-saving efforts. Currently, she ranks first in the California Pacific Conference in saves per game (10.08) and is eighth in NAIA Division 1.

“Emily works hard, is very competitive and has a great attitude,” said Head Soccer Coach Colette Bowler. “She’s the best goalkeeper Mills College has ever had.”

Cyclone Spotlight


Lupe Cazares

Sophomore and Co-Captain Lupe Cazares has been the first runner for Mills College in every race of her collegiate career, no small feat given that her teammates have stepped up their own level of commitment during the past year and have been challenging her for that spot. She hasn’t just been beating her teammates’ times; she has run faster in every meet this year than she did this time a year ago. Last month Lupe was selected as the Runner of the Month for the California Pacific Conference.

While 5k times are sometimes difficult to compare since every course has different terrain (some courses are “fast” because they are flat or have lots of pavement, while others are “slow” if they have a lot of hills or a surface that is slow to run on), the Mills one mile loop has remained exactly the same during Lupe’s time at Mills.

As a freshwoman last fall, Lupe ran 6:20 for the mile. Last week she ran 5:57, a life-time personal record and a concrete way of showing how far Lupe has come in one short year.

“There’s no question that Lupe has stepped it up this year,” said Head Coach Laura Davis, “She came into the season with great summer training, and she has finished in the top three overall of almost every race this season. I expect that we’ll see her run an all-time personal best for the 5k before the season is done.”

Maya Oubre

Junior Maya Oubre has had an exceptional soccer season with Mills College. The captain of the team plays forward and has had nine shots, two goals and one assist in the last four games.

She has started every game and has played almost every minute of every game this season. Last season Maya tore her ACL and so her accomplishments and leadership on the team are even more remarkable given that she is not even a year into recovery from the injury.

“Maya has made a huge impact on our program this year,” said Head Coach Colette Bowler, “She brings so much skill and enthusiasm to the game and that rubs off on her teammates.”

Bowler said that Maya is a great leader on the team who works hard, has fun and is a great role model. “She is an amazing soccer player; she can play pretty much every position on the field.”

The Mills soccer team will play their last game of the season on Saturday at home against William Jessup University. You can cheer on Maya and her teammates starting at 1 p.m. on the Mills soccer field.