FRESNO - A morning race time Air Quality Index in the 140s at Fresno’s Woodward Park allowed the 2018 California Community College Athletic Association Cross Country Championships to proceed. Wildfire smoke did not bother favorites as the Los Angeles Harbor women, led by individual winner Brenda Rosales Coria, won the 42nd CCCAA women’s race over Hartnell, 72-98. Defending champ Mt. San Antonio College prevailed in the 55th men’s race. Score it 49-90 Mounties over runner-up El Camino. The Warriors were led by individual champ, and repeat All-American, Carson Bix at 20:07.6.
The races capped a proven powerful season of Southern California cross country teams, as only the Hartnell women finished among the top ten and the top seven men’s teams were from SoCal.
Rosales Coria, runner-up in 2017 and a repeat All-American, timed 17:59.4 in a 10-second victory over Moorpark’s Samantha Barajas at 18:09.6. Ventura’s Olivia Burton was third at 18:18.2; Sophia Cortina of Moorpark was fourth at 18:29.6 and Mt. SAC’s Rebecca Ruiz was fifth at 18:29.9 over the nicely groomed 3.1 mile Woodward Park course.
Asked when she thought she had the race won, Rosales Coria smiled and said, “once I crossed the finish line!” Her prep coach at Long Beach Poly, Pat Green, planted that thought early on. It has served her well and likely will lead to a four-year scholarship.
LAH teammates who added up the winning score total were: Olivia Quezada, 8th, 18:37.7; Cynthia Melendez, 13th, 18:53.3; Andrea Gonzales Macias, 22nd, 19:22.2; and Estrella Montiel, 28th, 19:36.8.
Bix, a tall, long-legged sophomore, kept his eyes on the 4-mile prize, not on eventual runner-up, Mt. SAC’s Salvador Capetillo. And like LAH’s Rosales Coria, didn’t yield to that temptation. “When I didn’t hear his name nearing the finish, I knew I had it won,” he said.
Runner-up Capetillo timed 20:20.5 and San Diego Mesa’s Isaiah Labra was third at 20:25.6. Finishing fourth was Kibrom Elias of Cuyamaca at 20:28.1 and Stefan Rasmussen, SD Mesa, was fifth at 29:31.8.1
Capetillo was followed in team scoring by Chris Weiland, 6th, 29:35.4; Colby Penn. 13th, 20:49.7; Ralph Mendoza, 15th, 20:51.9 and Luis Huerta, 19th at 20:54.6. When five members of the winning team are separated by 34 seconds in the season finale, what you have is a stable of thorougbreds. Such was the season-long metaphoric journey for Mt. SAC’s men: they grabbed the bit and ran with it.
On a mid-November Fresno day when wildfire smoke in the air almost forced postponement of both races, the two championship teams provided their own smoke in the scoring.
(Woody Wilke, Fresno City College)