Megan McNally learned her role running behind Liberty Miller and Sarah Baxter at Simi Valley High.
So now that the sophomore has developed into the Moorpark College women's cross country team's frontrunner, she knows why it's so important for her to perform Saturday morning at the California Community College Athletic Association championships at Woodward Park in Fresno.
"You could always count on them being up there," said McNally of Miller and Baxter. "That's kind of what I feel like I have to do, always be there for my team."
McNally has been an ever-present for the Raiders this fall, repeatedly battling with Glendale's Grace Graham-Zamudio and Santa Barbara's Cecilia Instebo in the biggest races.
McNally, freshman Karla Vernola and sophomore Clarissa Wentworth have Moorpark, which finished second at WSCs and third at SoCals, in position to improve on last year's sixth-place state finish.
"We don't want to put too much pressure on ourselves," Vernola said, "but, at the same time, we know what needs to be done."
Orange Coast is the big favorite, but Moorpark will be competing with Glendale, DeAnza, Cerritos and others for a top-5 finish.
"It's always more fun to be the underdog," Vernola said.
"We just want to go in there and give it the best effort we can," McNally added. "Hopefully, it's second."
Ventura, which finished 12th at SoCals behind Danica Galvan's 26th-place finish, and Oxnard, which finished 20th behind Vannessa Martinez's 44th-place finish, will also be competing in Fresno.
"We all seem like we're ready to take on the challenge," Galvan said. "We're going to go up there and leave everything on the course."