MISSION VIEJO, Calif. - It was best case scenario for the Riverside City College cross country program at the Orange Empire Conference (OEC) Championship meet this Thursday evening at Oso Viejo Park in Mission Viejo, CA. The men and women both entered the meet with a target on their backs after being responsible for a number of championships in recent seasons. The pressure did not weigh on either side as the Tigers reigned supreme and were crowned OEC Champions.
The women hauled in their fourth-consecutive conference title after earning an overall team mark of 1:39:04 which was approximately six minutes better than second-place Saddleback.
Head Coach Damien Smith was named the OEC Women's Coach of the Year after helming his team to its fourth-consecutive crown.
"It's a great feeling," explained Smith. "These kids really opened my eyes as the season continued and I knew we would have something special. This team has a chance at something good."
Sophomore Sarah Hollis had the meet of her life by being crowned the OEC Individual Champion and earned All-Conference honors after snapping the tape with a mark of 18:25.9. She dominated the meet by finishing well before the second-place finisher. This is her sixth-straight meet where she has finished atop the podium.
Sophomore Robin Valencia placed third in the meet after being slightly edged due to minor trail confusion. Despite the small hiccup, Valencia reeled in All-Conference recognition and posted an overall mark of 19:09.5 to haul in the bronze medal.
Sophomore tandem Samantha Chapa and Carissa Gomez finished back-to-back to earn All-Conference recognition by placing fifth and sixth, respectfully. Chapa earned a mark of 20:03.7, while Gomez crossed the finish line with a time of 20:10.8.
The men had a strong representation on the OEC All-Conference list as they made up eight of the top 14 spots. Riverside nearly swept the podium after placing first as a team with a clip of 1:46:49.
Head Coach Jim McCarron was named the OEC Men's Coach of the Year after leading his team to its fourth consecutive crown.
"I am so please with these guys," said McCarron. "Jeffery was a huge part of our success, but it was a great accomplishment to three-peat as a team."
Freshman Enrique Villa earned the OEC Individual Championship crown after marginally defeating his teammate, sophomore Ricardo Cardenas. Villa recorded an overall mark of 20:57.5, while Cardenas earned a clip of 20:57.8.
Sophomore Jeffery Robbins finished just outside the top three by placing fourth overall with a time of 21:30.6 to earn All-Conference honors.
(Courtesy Riverside City College Athletics)