by Woody Wilk, CCCSIA
(FRESNO) Not only did Glendale College's women's cross country team crunch the competition,
at the 39th California Community College Athletic Association Women's Championships, they put an exclamation point on the title! All five runners in team scoring finished 14th or higher and qualified as 2015 All-Americans, a very rare feat. But, that's what coach Eddie Lopez has with his runners...rare feet! They also have big hearts as they wait to greet each other after the finish of each race.
The Lady Vaqueros were led by sophomore Crystal Morales (18:13.6) who finished fourth. In sixth place was freshman SoCal individual champ Leana Setian (18:25.9) followed closely by sophomore Stacy Macias (18:32.1) in ninth. Sophomore Brenda Sanchez (18:39.6) and freshman Giselle Macedo (18:40.0) were heel-to-heel finishing 11th and 12th. An amazing finish in which only 26 seconds separated the GC five which defeated the NorCal champion Hartnell College Lady Panthers, 37-117. College of the Canyons was a close third at 121 led by freshman Jessica Ruiz (18:34.7) who was 10th.
In another 'no surprise' of the women's race, defending individual champ Aminat Olowora (17:02.0) of Southwestern repeated. She did not break her course record of 16:59.7 set last year, but the time is second-best in CCCAA women's cross country history and she beat American River's NorCal champ Jenica Dodge (17:46.8) by 45 seconds. Hartnell's Melena Grover (18:06.6) finished the 1-2-3 trifectra and all three are repeat All-Americans.
As GC's women's coach, Lopez picked up his fourth state title having won in 2007, 2009 and 2011. Sandwiched in and around those, he guided the Lady Vaqueros to runner-up spots in 2006, 2008, 2010, and 2012-14. If 2015's team is a barometer, GC's pressure on competition is rising!
In the 52nd CCCAA Men's Cross Country Championship, AR's men's team wasn't as dominating as the Lady Vaqueros, but they easily outdistanced runner-up Mt. San Antonio and defending champ, College of the Canyons, 67-116-123. ARC's impressive win was the fourth for the Beavers in five years. ARC was runner-up in 2014.
Once again, as in 2014, Abdul Hamid (20:39.6) led ARC finishing 6th just a tick ahead of freshman teammate Donald Plazola (20:40.8) who was 7th. Like Hamid, Sean Gregg (20:50.3) repeated as an All-American placing 11th. Sophomore David French (20:57.0) was 18th while Ozzie Hassen (21:10.6) at 25th in team scoring wrapped it up for ARC. Like the GC runners, they were closely bunched as only 31 seconds separated Hamid and Hassen.
The individual winner was COC's sophomore Ethan Walker ((20:09.8) with a 7-second margin over sophomores Ulysses Orozco (20:16.2) of Saddleback and Glendale's Vahagn Isayan (20:17.0) in a near dead-heat for runner-up. Fourth and fifth place were also tightly contested between Las Positas soph Jason Intravaia (20:33.7) and freshman Sean McDermott (20:38.0) of Cuesta. Like the women's race, the top 14 individuals receive All-America status.
For ARC coach Rick Anderson, it was his fifth state title. His first came in 2005 and his teams were runners-up in 2003 and 2010 before their 2011-13 triple title trail. Like Lopez, his GC counterpart, it would appear that Anderson has corralled a consistent stable of thoroughbreds who really love to run...and they win!
On a beautiful, crisp morning in Fresno, it was that kind of day.