By Tadzio Garcia
The track and field team’s improvement paved the way for a record-breaking day in the summer-like heat at the Cal State Northridge Invitational last Saturday.
The team surpassed 22 of their previous top times, marks and distances of the season, and they did this competing against top community colleges and notable four-year universities.
“The energy of the team was the best I’ve seen all year long,” said coach Jason Tena-Encarnación.
“They focused and pulled together as a team, which resulted in, by far, the best performance this season,” said Tena-Encarnación.
Jill Schmidt won the women’s high jump in a battle with two University of California, Los Angeles Bruins.
Jump after jump was followed by increasingly louder roars alternating between the East Los Angeles College team and the UCLA contingent.
Schmidt appeared to top her final mark of 1.70 meters clearing the bar in the final jump of the day, but the bar fell after the edge of her foot nicked it.
The crowd responded with a grand “aah,” which echoed across the stadium.
Schmidt’s leap broke the ELAC record of 5-5.75 held for over a decade by Solangel Rubio. Rubio was the SoCal champion in 2001 and finished second in the state that year.
Schmidt currently boasts the top jump of all community colleges in the state.
Also leaping to best results of the season was Royal Walker in the men’s long jump and triple jump.
Racing to their top times of the year were Elans Steve Gayton, Chris Jones (men’s 400 meter dash), Jose Lopez, Carlos Segovia and Marcos Lopez (800 run) and Michael Abarca (110 meter hurdles, 400 hurdles).
Huskies who improved their top men’s javelin marks include Adrian Martinez, Juan Reyes and Campus News staff writer Oliver Blanco.
Aaron Williams threw his best shot put distance of the year.
“I am a walk-on,” said Williams. “Something inside me told me to come out and try-out for the team and I am glad I did. It’s fun,” said Williams.
Raquel Acosta topped her previous best throw in the women’s shot put, placing her within range of a South Coast Conference final scoring position.
The SCC Finals in two months will determine post-season bids.
The women’s javelin tosses at the Northridge Invitational produced noteworthy results.
Seven women burst into the state’s top 100 community college marks even though two of them were making their javelin debut at Northridge.
Before this meet, only Acosta had thrown the minimum requirement this season.
Making the women’s javelin top 100 community college statewide marks are Acosta, Sia Solleh, Shawnta Barnes, Iris Abrego, Jessica Espinoza, Yadira Maldonado and Lucy Vargas.
Acosta and Solleh surpassed rival Mt. San Antonio College’s top javelin thrower and, along with Barnes and Abrego, surpassed Mt. SAC’s second-best thrower.
“This is what we want to do, make gradual marks and move up each week,” said Tena-Encarnación, “and by the conference finals, we will be in a position to score points while taking them from other teams.”
Mt. SAC is the No. 2 community college women’s track and field team in the state.
ELAC, previously ranked No. 7 in the state, dropped out the top 10 just before to the Northridge Invitational.
The downside to having been invited to such a prestigious invitational is that less than half of the team was invited.
The upside is that ELAC was invited.
ELAC took a full team to Northridge and proved their depth by fighting toe-to-toe with top colleges and universities.
During Schmidt’s final jumps, Huskies competing or training elsewhere on the field stopped for brief moments to witness this important Husky victory.
“They support and care about each other,” said Tena-Encarnación.
The ELAC distance runners competed in the Oxy Distance Carnival last Friday at Occidental College.
Highlights were Olivia Reyes and Michael Vallejo, who bested their top steeplechase times of the year.
ELAC will compete at the Aztec Invitational at San Diego State University all day Friday without their head coach, who is expecting the birth of his child.
The Huskies will not be competing in the Point Loma Collegiate Invitational on Saturday as previously scheduled.