SCC Pentathlon Makes Waves



A BREATH OF FRESH AIR—Suzette Merchain-Cota pumps the water while she breaths before taking her last turn in the 100-yard freestyle edging out teammate Felicia Ballesteros by the slightest of margins, 1:22.21 minutes to 1:22.91, in the South Coast Conference 2013 Pentathlon yesterday, Feb. 15 ate home in the East Los Angeles College swimming pool. Merchain-Cota is the oldest female athlete to play sports at ELAC. CN/Tadzio Garcia

By Tadzio Garcia

The East Los Angeles College Huskies hosted their first South Coast Conference Pentathlon in more than a dozen years yesterday. The Huskies began their second swim season after an 11-year hiatus.

“This year we expect ELAC to make progress from last year with faster times and a more cohesive team. Those returning are responsible towards one another and the team will bring this into this year,” second-year Head Coach Erik Matheson said.

Pasadena City College outscored all teams in the women’s events with 286.5 points. Ninety-nine women competed. The Lancers were followed by runner-up Cerritos (247.5) and Mt. San Antonio colleges (223.5).

ELAC came in sixth (48) edging El Camino College by nine points just behind Chaffey (148.5) and Long Beach City (82.5) colleges. LA Trade Tech and Rio Hondo colleges tied for last.

“I think we (Pasadena) are very strong but we need to be deep to compete at championship meets. We will give it all we got,” Pasadena Head Coach Terry Stoddard said, when asked if Pasadena was the women’s team to beat this year in the SCC. Stoddard is coaching his 15th season at PCC.

Pasadena won all five of the women’s individual events.

With the Huskies screaming for their teammates throughout the meet, several of them swam their fastest times.

“Even though this meet was a learning experience, we improved on a lot of times. Ashley’s (Jauregui) times were all her best. Others were Felicia (Ballesteros), Alex (Gonzalez), Martha (Rivas) and others,” Matheson said.

ELAC won some heats. “I won a couple of my heats. I didn’t expect my times to be what they were (faster than last year). Even though, I will do a lot better,” returning veteran Gonzalez said.

After the meet the ELAC team was excited to go over their times. Matheson told them, “Our goal today was to work on the technical aspects of our races. We will go away from today identifying what to work on to achieve our goals.”

Denise Burrola, new to the team, beat her twin sister, returning starter Christina Burrola for the first time in her swimming career, by .65 of a second in the 100-yard freestyle. “I feel awesome,” Denise Burrola said.

Her sister responded, “She beat me and I am happy for her. Denise really improved. I have a lot of work to do. It’s hard to tell how I did today overall, but it felt good,” Christina Burrola said.

The Huskies lost key players to graduation, all multiple medal winners at last year’s SCC finals. Veronica Pelayo, Beisi Li who attends University of California, Santa Barbara, Lyz Ruvalcaba and Edith Rivas who attends Cal State Fullerton.

Six Huskies have returned to the team, while eight others have joined. “We are in a better position than last year because we brought in good recruits, such as Yazandra Martinez and others,” Matheson said.

Freshman Veronica Orantes from Montebello High School said she was nervous in her first college meet. “I’ve had a four-year layoff from swimming in high school and here I am. Yes I was nervous but once I was in the pool, it felt natural,” Orantes said.

Mt. SAC edged El Camino in the men’s events in a field of 104 athletes. The Mounties scored 249 to points to ECC’s 246. Cerritos followed with 210 points while Chaffey placed a distant fourth with 145 points. ELAC does not sport a men’s team.

The Huskies will compete at the 2013 Mt. SAC Swim and Dive Invite next Friday and Saturday, Feb. 22-23. There will be 23 events for the women with 20 teams competing. The morning sessions begin at 8:30 a.m. The afternoon sessions begin at 1:30 p.m.

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