By Tadzio Garcia
The men’s cross country team did the impossible. They sported a full team for the first time this season. As a result, they walked away with a postseason bid with two upsets over ranked teams at the South Coast Conference Championships at Griffith Park last Saturday.
The women’s team did not qualify. They lost the final bid to Golden West College, a team they beat twice this year. Golden West got the bid based on their nine-point upset over the Huskies at the Mt. San Antonio College Invite, Oct. 12.
Megan Magdaleno is the lone Husky from the women’s team that advances to the postseason based on her eighth place finish at the SCC finals.
The men’s team will send seven runners to the Southern California Championships Saturday at Fairview Park in Costa Mesa. The four-mile race begins at noon.
The Huskies, who were led by Andres De La Cruz who was the outstanding freshman of the meet, upset three teams to automatically qualify for the postseason.
Cerritos College became the first SCC team in 10 years to win both races with their men’s team winning their first SCC title in 43 years of running cross country.
De La Cruz was named to the All-SCC Men’s First Team with his fifth place finish.
He said he hasn’t raced competitively for three years since high school. He trained on his own at the Griffith Park course last year and it paid off.
“I finally got back into the groove of running because I was relaxed on this familiar course. I strategized,” De La Cruz said.
“From mile one to mile two, there is wind in your face, so I comfortably ran behind two runners. After the two-mile mark you run with the wind so I pushed to the end,” De La Cruz said.
De La Cruz ran from ninth place at the two-mile mark to his top-five finish. He sprinted ahead of Jesus Ortiz of LA Trade Tech College the last 100 meters to win by just over 2.68 seconds.
Coming off a 30-point win over then ranked Pasadena City College two weeks ago at the Mt. SAC Invite, the No. 14-ranked Huskies (SoCal poll) would have to beat the Lancers again to advance to the postseason.
The men’s team would also have to upset No. 13-ranked Long Beach City College or a top-ten team, No. 9 El Camino College.
The Huskies beat all three teams.
“We knew all season we would race this well at this time. It’s how we train – to run our best times at the season’s end,” said Daniel Rincon-Zaragoza.
Rincon-Zaragoza finished in 15th place, 1.82 seconds out of making the All-SCC Second Team.
“I tried. What is more important is that we run well at SoCal so we advance to state (finals).”
While the women’s team beat LBCC, they lost out to an automatic bid because of a five-point loss to the No. 9-ranked El Camino women’s team.
Magdaleno was named to the All-SCC Women’s Second Team. “It feels good but it was more important for us to have made it to SoCal,” said Magdaleno.
Advancing to the SoCal finals for the men’s team are De La Cruz, Rincon-Zaragoza, Kris Chacon, Andres Rosas and Gonzalo Ceja.
Twins Aaron and Oscar Jasso also advanced. “Their times were key for us. They have an opportunity help the team score at SoCal,” Assistant Coach David Loera said. Michael Vallejos missed out by 5.6 seconds.
Vallejos ends his two-year career with his No. 8-team finish. “I did my best and was proud to run as a Husky,” Vallejos said.