Thursday, May 23, 2024

CHS Track Phenom Lauren Gilhooly Thrives on Competition, Aims High at CIF (Updated May 18)

Author’s note: This article was updated on May 18 at 3:00 p.m. to reflect results of the girls’ 4×100 meter relay, the 100-meter race, and the 200-meter race at the CIF-San Diego Track-and-Field Championships.

The article was updated May 11 at 4:45 p.m. to reflect results of the 4×100 meter relay, the 100-meter race, and the 200-meter race at the CIF Division 3 Track-and-Field Championships. 

As many in Coronado know, being the new kid in town can be challenging, especially when it comes to playing team sports. Sometimes teams have played together for years, so player positions have been established long before the new kid moves in.

That scenario unfolded for Coronado High School track star Lauren Gilhooly when she moved from Northern Virginia to Manhattan Beach to begin her freshman year. Gilhooly played soccer as a youngster in Coronado and continued playing when she moved to Virginia. She hoped to play for her high school in Manhattan Beach, too.

“It seemed like the team had already been selected,” said Lauren’s mom Kelly. “But [Lauren] didn’t even miss a beat. She said, ‘I’m going to do track.'”

One day, Lauren may want to thank that soccer coach. In her freshman year at Mira Costa High School, Gilhooly earned MVP honors for her stellar sprinting performances, specializing in the 100-meter and 200-meter events. As a sophomore at Mira Costa High, she set the record for sophomore girls in the 100 meters.

Top image. Lauren Gilhooly is set to start in lane 2 (2nd from left). Bottom image: Gilhooly crosses the finish line in first place. She set the school record in the 100 meters at the Arcadia Invitational. See the video of Gilhooly winning the Arcadia Invitational 100 meter sprint. Photo credit: Arcadia Invitational

Lauren’s family moved to Coronado this year, and as a junior at Coronado High she has already broken school records in the 100- and 200-meter sprints, setting her own personal records of 11.70 seconds in the 100 and 24.46 in the 200.

The times are, well, fast. How fast? Blazingly, eye-poppingly fast.

The previous school records had been held since 2018 by track-and-field star Alysah Hickey. And, Hickey was special. She won the CIF San Diego section in the 100 meter in 2017 with a time of 11.99. Gilhooly’s fastest time is almost three tenths of a second faster than the 2017 CIF-winning time. In the world of sprint events, three tenths can be the difference between first and eighth place, as it was in the women’s 100-meter final in the USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships in July 2023.

According to the Athletic.net, Gilhooly currently has the ninth fastest 100-meter time and the 21st fastest 200-meter time in the state this season. Let that soak in for a moment. A CIF State Media Release documented that 40,434 girls ran track in California in 2023. Even if only one quarter of those 40,434 were sprinters, Lauren’s 100-meter time would still put her within the top one tenth of one percent of all sprinters in the state. In other words, her times are phenomenal.

Mira Costa and Coronado High Schools

Lauren reflected on her experience running track at two high schools. “At Mira Costa I learned my love for the sport and got a good foundational knowledge on track,” she said. “I’ve been able to kind of build off that and get faster from where I was. Here at Coronado we do a lot more technical and sprint work because Coach (Cameron) Gary is very knowledgeable, and he’s helped me learn how to run more efficiently.”

Junior Lauren Gilhooly (middle) won the 100 meter dash at the Runge Invitational in March at Patrick Henry High School. Gilhooly. Photo credit: George Green

“She trains hard, accepts coaching, and doesn’t make excuses,” said Coach Gary. “She has discipline and maintains training and competitive focus. She is a wonderful addition to our team, and I’m excited to see how she does for the rest of this season and next.”

Friendly Rivalry

Lauren attributes much of her development to her improved technique and increased strength. Weight training is a major component of her workout regimen. She also shared that it helps to have a friendly rival. Madison High School senior Amirah Shaheed is also a force in the sprints.

Shaheed and Gilhooly not only finished one-two in the 100-meter sprint in the City League, they are also seeded first and second in the Division 3 Championship to be held this Saturday, May 11. And, you may have guessed it. Their 100-meter times are also the two fastest across all divisions in San Diego (that’s 126 schools!). On Saturday, May 18, the two will get yet another chance to compete, this time against sprinters from all divisions in the CIF San Diego Section Meet. The pair push each other and make the other faster.

Goals and More

Lauren keeps her focus on working hard. She has a goal this season of continuing to improve her times in the 100 and 200, as well as in the 4×100-meter relay with her teammates Tatiana Potter, Lindsey Balsley, and Summer Little. She would love to compete in all three events at the California State meet. Amidst her rigorous training regimen, a cherished ritual adds a touch of sweetness to her preparation: a pre-meet trip to Starbucks for her beloved Strawberry Acai Refresher, perhaps serving as the secret ingredient in her recipe for success.

Results: Valley Center High School: Division 3 CIF Divisional Championships

Saturday, May 11. The girls relay team of Potter, Balsley, Little, and Gilhooly won the 4×100 relay in a team personal record 48.33 seconds. That time would have also won the Division 2 CIF 4×100-meter relay and would have finished fifth across all 126 schools in the San Diego Section of the California Interscholastic Federation. They are poised to compete well in next week’s CIF-San Diego Section Championships. The team is eleven hundredths of a second off the school record set in 2017 by Ruthie Grant-Williams, Madison Shanks, Abigail Whittemore, and Alysah Hickey.

Gilhooly finished second in the CIF Division 3 San Diego Section 100-meter race with a time of 11.81. Shaheed won the event. To give a sense for how fast the two were, the third place time was a distant 12.55 seconds. Gilhooly’s time was the second fastest across all 126 schools and three divisions in the CIF San Diego section. Expect another thrilling finish next week at the CIF-San Diego Section Championships.

In the CIF Division 3 San Diego Section 200-meter race, Gilhooly also finished second with a personal record of 24.36 that broke the school record she already owned. Like the 100-meter race, Gilhooly‘s time was the second fastest across all 126 schools and three divisions in the CIF San Diego section. Next week’s matchup will be exciting.

Results: CIF-San Diego Section Championships

Saturday, May 18, Mount Carmel High School: CIF-San Diego Section Championships. The girls’ 4×100-meter relay team of Tatiana Potter, Lauren Gilhooly, Lindsey Balsley, and Summer Little finished fourth with a time of 48.74. The team was seeded fifth so finished ahead of expectation. Handoffs were clean and competition fierce. Below, see a video of the race. The top three teams qualified for the state meet, so the team missed qualifying by one place.


The CHS girls’ team of Potter, Gilhooly, Balsley, and Little finished fourth in the CIF-San Diego Championship 4×100 meter relay. The team is in lane 3 (third from inside of the track).

Gilhooly finished second in the 100-meter sprint with a time of 11.89. With her second place finish, she qualified for the state meet next week in Clovis, CA. Amirah Shaheed from Madison High School won the event. Shaheed has the fastest and second-fastest time in the state for the 200- and 100-meter sprints, respectively. Gilhooly finished sixth in the 200-meter.


CHS Junior Lauren Gilhooly finished 2nd in the 100-meter sprint at the CIF-San Diego Section Championships on May 18. She qualified for the state meet to be held next week.Gilhooly is in lane 6 (third from the outside of the track).



Lisa Lamb
Lisa Lamb
Lisa’s passion for sports journalism stems from her experiences playing high school sports and reading great sports journalists, especially those who write about her favorite basketball team, the San Diego State Aztecs. As a professor of mathematics education, she enjoys analyzing data to highlight the statistics that help bring the story to life. Lisa has lived in Coronado for almost 20 years with her husband and son. She loves the friendly neighborhood community and the walkable access to wonderful restaurants and parks.Have news to share? Send tips, story ideas or letters to the editor to: [email protected]

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