By Tadzio Garcia
Southwestern College defended its men's team title at the Fourth Annual Rio Hondo Cross Country Classic Sept. 5, 2014 at Legg Lake Park in South El Monte.
Southwestern sophomore George Martinez (Sweetwater High School) finished first in the men's four mile race in 19:35 minutes. He was runner-up at the 2013 Classic. "Coach (Duro) Agbede told us to run comfortable. I felt comfortable taking the lead in mile-three. I've never had a lead like that," Martinez said.
On the women's side, Riverside City College edged Southwestern for the team championship followed by third place finisher Ventura College. "We are pleased with our third place results even though it's early in the season. We had four of our top five women running personal records," Ventura College Head Coach Tony Veney said.
Southwestern freshman Aminat Olowara (Aunty Ayds Girls School in Nigeria) won the women's race in 16:33.
"It was an OK time. I can do better than that because I will train well with (my) coach to get better," Olowara said. Olowara averaged 5:20 each mile.
"She works hard and follows directions well. Our teams did a good job this week. We will be able to tell where we are at the SoCal Preview," Agbede, Ph.D. said.
The SoCal Preview will be held at Woodley Park in Van Nuys Sept. 19 and will be hosted by South Coast Conference's Los Angeles Trade Tech College.
The CCCAA defending cross country women's state individual state champion Laura Aceves (Baldwin Park High School), a sophomore of East Los Angeles College, took second place at the Classic in 17:52.
"I ran the first mile helping to pace my teammates. One of my goals is for the ELAC women's team to do well at the state finals. I beat my time here from last season by 30 seconds. It's a good beginning for me," Aceves said.
The Classic "has a fast course," Agbede said. "It is fast because it is mostly dirt, not too hard or soft, and because of the quality of runners that compete. 16:33 by Olowara in the women's race is a meet record." Gayle Watkins. The meet drew 180 California community college athletes, up about 50 from last season.
Former longtime Mt. SAC Coach Dr. Ernie "Coach G" Gregoire, presented the Classic All Top-10 team awards. Gregoire, who previously coached Watkins, was a 2014 inductee to the CCCAA (5CTCA) Hall of Fame.
The men's Classic Top-10 team, from first to 10th place, included Martinez (Southwestern), Teddy Kassa (El Camino), William Raus (Riverside), Bryan Alvarado Bernardino (Southwestern), Michael Nakahara (El Camino), Gerardo Marquillo (Southwestern), Ethan Laing (El Camino), Baldomero Cruz (Santa Monica), Andres De La Cruz (ELAC) and Ricky Garcia (Oxnard).
The women's Classic Top-10 team from first to 10th place, include Olowara (Southwestern), Aceves (ELAC), Erika Gonzalez (Southwestern), Brianna Jacklin and Isi Ibarra (both of Riverside), Karina Cantera (Southwestern), Crystal Tejeda (Riverside) and Megan Kearney (Ventura).