By Tadzio Garcia
Two Elans will qualify for the track and field state championships while other Huskies compete to advance at the South Coast Conference finals Friday.
East Los Angeles College will host the SCC finals for the first time in a decade, but the event will be held at Mt. San Antonio College.
“East Los Angeles College doesn’t have the facilities to host the throwing events on campus,” said assistant coach Louis Ramirez.
ELAC hosted the SCC prelims at Mt. SAC yesterday. Results were not available at press time.
In strong performances, Shawnta Barnes and Jill Schmidt placed fourth and fifth respectively at the Southern California Heptathlon Championships and as a result advanced to the track and field state championships, May 20-21 in Sacramento.
“I am overwhelmed with the results,” said Barnes. “Jill and I worked so hard to get to this level and advance to state.”
Barnes, Schmidt and Sia Solleh competed in the heptathlon championships as unranked players in a field of champions April 12-13 in Antelope Valley.
The trio walked away as champions themselves with top-30 statewide rankings.
Barnes is now the No. 8 heptathlete statewide for community colleges followed by Schmidt at No. 10 and Solleh at No. 29.
In the final heptathlon event, three runners were running neck and neck nearing the finish line in the 800-meter run. Schmidt came with a late rush and beat her competitors
in a photo finish by 0.01 of a second to earn the final point that gave her fifth place overall.
Schmidt is favored to be the SCC champion in the high jump, especially since she has held the top jump all year, while Barnes is among the favorites to win the 100-meter dash title.
Both are among the SCC-best in the 100-meter hurdles and the long jump.
Brandi Gerardo was the last Husky SCC champion when she won the 100-meter hurdles in 15.63 seconds at the 2009 SCC finals.
That time was also Schmidt’s fastest time of the year in the same event until she came up with a personal record at the Cal State Long Beach Invitational, April 16, running a blazing 15.60 seconds.
Rob Felton ran a personal record in the 100-meter dash at 12.11 with other men’s personal records coming from Enrique Baez in the 1500-meter run, Michael Abarca in the 110-meter hurdles and Aaron Williams in the discus throw.
On the women’s side, personal records came from Schmidt in the high jump, a state and ELAC record, Barnes in the 100-meter dash, Solleh in the 100-meter hurdles, Johana Ceja in the 1,500-meter run and Veronica Pelayo in the javelin.
“We are peaking at the right time of the year, something we worked for all season,” said head coach Jason Tena-Encarnación.
SCC teams have won more state championships than all other conferences combined.
ELAC won the men’s state championship in 1968, a team that assistant coach David Loera was a member of.
“(Back then) we came in third at the SCC finals, second at the Southern California Championships and first at the state championships,” said Loera. “It is possible to improve to your best results when it counts most.”
The men’s team finished in last place in 2010 with 10 points. Compton College, LA Trade Tech and LA Southwest edged them out.
The women’s team beat Long Beach City College by one point, in 2010 to garner seventh place.
Mt. SAC will win the SCC this year, followed by Cerritos in both the women’s and men’s categories according to the statewide rankings.
The ELAC women’s team will battle Pasadena City College and Trade Tech for fourth place this year.
On paper, the men’s team should finish in eighth place according to the SCC year-end results. However, averaging five personal records a meet, Husky fans hope the men’s team is set for some upsets.
Five upsets could place the Huskies in the running with at least four teams including rival Compton College.
In the sprints and relays, Jeremy Harris, Christopher Clark and Darius Turner could provide the Huskies with the biggest upsets of the day.
They will run with Noel Barrera in the 4 x 100 relay and could upset some SCC schools based on their individual times. This is the first meet this year that ELAC will compete in this event.
Royal Walker is ranked statewide and is one of the favorites to advance to the state championships in the triple jump.