By Tadzio Garcia
The men’s cross country team raced to a 10th place at the SoCal Preview for the first time since 2007 at Fairview Park in Costa Mesa last Saturday; this without two of the Huskies’ top runners.
The women’s team placed 16th out of 27 teams in the biggest meet of the year prior to the post season, which included almost 600 runners in total that competed in four races.
Several runners at the nearby Orange Coast Invite were treated for heat-related injuries in temperatures that reached at least 106 during the day.
“We prepared for the race to run smart and not push in the heat. Safety was the most important thing in the race for us,” said Coach Louis Ramirez.
As a result, the men’s team place in the No. 10 spot.
They are ranked No. 9 in the Southern California Coaches poll, which is the first top-ten ranking for them since 2006.
Three Huskies placed ahead of No. 8-ranked LA Trade Tech College’s top runner, en route to an upset of the Beavers.
ELAC outscored LATTC by 80 points.
Daniel Rincon-Zaragoza led the Huskies to a 10th place team finish by edging teammate Gonzalo Ceja by 4.10 seconds for 42nd place.
Rincon-Zaragoza ran a personal best in 22:09.26 minutes. Andres De La Cruz was close behind in 22:15.28.
Oscar Jasso (23:52.99) and Aaron Jasso (24:02.43) rounded out the ELAC scoring.
Michael Vallejos (24:37.30) and Carlos Lopez (24:57.32) also competed for the Huskies in the top seven race.
“Gonzalo Ceja was definitely the ‘Athlete of the Meet’ for ELAC helping the men’s team place tenth at the preview, which gave credence to all the work we did in the off season,” ELAC Head Coach Louis Ramirez said.
“ELAC is gaining in confidence with each race. The great leadership of our sophomores has helped our freshman perform well.
“We are becoming a team in that each athlete encourages their teammates to perform well and congratulate and take great pride in team performance and not individual results,” Ramirez said.
The Huskies tied with SCC rival and No. 14-ranked Pasadena City College for 8th place in the men’s non-scoring overflow race.
Daniel Fernandez was the top finisher for ELAC, placing 40th in 23:45.05.
Fernandez was followed by a Husky pack that included Omar Alvarenga, Juan Rodriguez and Carlos Segovia.
Alvarenga out-sprinted Rodriguez by .45 of a second while Rodriguez edged Segovia by 1.53 seconds. Andrew Torres rounded the scoring for ELAC.
The ELAC women upset Bakersfield College by 14 points and were led by Megan Magdaleno (21:01.45), who has solidified herself as the top Husky runner after three meets this year.
Rounding out the Husky scorers included finishes from Gloria Hernandez (22:37.64), Kattie Padilla (22:49.96), Linda Alvarado (23:00.22) and Briana Lewis (23:13.18).
Non-scorers Karina Toribio (24:17.05) and Rosa Lima (24:36.18) out-dashed runners at the finish line by 2.09 and 1.15 seconds respectively.
Valerie Rivas (27.19.60) was the lone Husky in the women’s overflow race finishing in 45th place out of 83 runners.
“The women’s team placed well but did not perform to the best of their abilities. Many felt that they could have performed better and are looking forward to their next race to prove it.
“Our pack was grouped well but we need to get closer to the front of the race earlier in the race,” Ramirez said.
Both the men’s and women’s teams race Friday morning at the Golden West Invitational at Central Park in Huntington Beach.