Wolves and Lions don’t have a lot in common, but one similarity they share is the fact that they are fierce animals running through unknown terrain at exceptional speeds to track down their prey.
Phoebe Wolfe-Lyons herself is fierce in her own right.
With her last name being a combination of both ferocious animals, Wolfe-Lyons has proven to be just as much as a competitor out on the wild running terrains around the Santa Barbara community.
“Honestly, it’s pretty fun. My mom’s last name is Wolfe and my dad’s is Lyons, and I got both of them,” Wolfe-Lyons said of her incredible last name.
“Sometimes people don’t notice it. I have had friends come up to me and say ‘Oh my gosh, your name is Wolfe-Lyons’ and I’m like ‘Yeah, it’s true.’”
Besides having one of the best last names in all of sports, Wolfe-Lyons, a runner for Dos Pueblos High, backs it up by being one of the best runners in the entire Santa Barbara County area — and at such a young age as well.
In just her freshman year, Wolfe-Lyons has enjoyed a litany of success — which includes a first-place finish at the Channel League Championships back on Nov. 7.
Her efforts helped the Dos Pueblos High girls cross country team clinch the team league title.
“It’s just been really exciting for me to be able to succeed like that. It’s fun to win. But I was not expecting this coming into my freshman year. I just thought, ‘I like to run.’ I wasn’t expecting to win these races, but that is what made it extra special,” Wolfe-Lyons said.
Even though she wasn’t expecting to be this good so quickly, it makes sense since running has been in Wolfe-Lyons’ blood for as long as she can remember.
She ran her first 5K at five years old and had been running in a lot of community events throughout her years. Around eighth grade is when she started training more intensely, coincidentally with coach Nash Jiminez, who is now her head coach at Dos Pueblos.
“I’ve always just been attracted to running. The hard work that comes into it, I enjoy it because if you put effort and you put hard work into running, you can see a result,” Wolfe-Lyons said.
“You don’t need perfect coordination, you don’t need a lot of gear, you don’t need to be born with all this talent. If you go out there and do your best and work hard, then you can see results that you want.”
More importantly than the success out on the terrain, running has helped Wolfe-Lyons in all facets of life. The transition from middle school to high school is a tough one for all of us, but especially for Wolfe-Lyons, who, after attending Santa Barbara Jr. High, switched it up by going to Dos Pueblos High.
“I didn’t actually know many people going to Dos Pueblos. Most of my friends were going to Santa Barbara or San Marcos. But I knew Nash, so I went to all the summer practices and I actually had the opportunity to go to the Mammoth training camp to meet everyone. So the first day of school I did know people, and that helped,” Wolfe-Lyons said.
“Cross country really just made it a lot easier.”
Running has also given Wolfe-Lyons the opportunity to be a leader in the community.
When she was younger, Wolfe-Lyons would participate in the Junior Grand Prix, a collection of races to promote competition put on by the Santa Barbara Athletic Association.
“It’s really how I got into running. I would do these races and it was always super fun. You get a community of people and they’re community runners that you start to recognize,” Wolfe-Lyons said.
Now older, Wolfe-Lyons is doing more than just running. As of last year, she is now in charge of the Junior Grand Prix, along with the help of her mom.
When she took over, she estimated there were about 13 kids in the 2018 season. That number has skyrocketed to 55, and they have also secured sponsors to have raffles at events or even have professional athletes come out to do stretches with the kids before races.
“I think it’s a really fun community group, and even if you’re not super into running, it helps us in all sports, and it just helps with general fitness,” Wolfe-Lyons said.
Despite the sport being difficult at times, Wolfe-Lyons says she always tries to make sure she’s having fun with her running. Even things like the Junior Grand Prix help her take her mind off the pressure of running and just focus on the community it fosters.
She even hopes to run in college one day.
This week, however, there’s only one thing on Wolfe-Lyons mind: the CIF Division 3 Finals. Last week, at the CIF Prelims, Wolfe-Lyons came in ninth place in the three-mile race with a time of 19 minutes,11.8 seconds to advance to the Finals.
She will be joined by the rest of her girls’ team as well as the boys’ team, which also advanced.
They’ll be running with a lot more on the line this week, a chance to clinch a spot in the State meet.
“I would love to make state, but looking at the times right now, it will be a challenge,” Wolfe-Lyons said.
She projects she would need to run around a time of 18:50 this week to advance. Her current personal record is about 19 seconds slower. But that doesn’t faze Wolfe-Lyons. She knows this isn’t her last chance.
In reality, it’s just the start of her career.
“There’s a possibility, and I am really hoping for it and I am going to try my best to get it. If I don’t, I understand,” Wolfe-Lyons said.
“I’ll have other opportunities.”
Unlike a wolf or a lion, Wolfe-Lyons isn’t running for survival. She does it because she genuinely loves it. Running hasn’t just brought her success, it’s brought her friendship, leadership, and above all else, peace of mind.
“I remember during summer when I was frustrated or bothered, my mom would tell me to go for a run, and I would say, ‘No, do I have to?’ But then I would go, and a minute later I felt a lot calmer and nicer,” Wolfe-Lyons said.
“It’s just great for me.”