East Los Angeles College runners hold own against four-year universitites

SPLASH LANDING – Despite Andrew Torres’ fall in 28 inches of water in the 3,000-meter steeplechase water hurdle, he ran a personal best at the Oxy Distance Carnival last Saturday at Occidental College. Spectators and a fellow competitor look on as Torres pops up from the water. CN/Tadzio Garcia

By Diego Linares & Tadzio Garcia


The track and field team competed against four-year universities and community colleges in the Oxy Distance Carnival with a point to prove last Friday in Jack Kemp field at Occidental College.

The Huskies walked away with three wins on the field and personal records in front of 2,000.

Gonzalo Ceja set a personal record in the 3,000-meter steeplechase in 9:48.78 minutes. He is the first Husky to break the 10 minute mark in six years.

Ceja placed 19th out of 47 runners (seventh in his heat). He said competing with the best in the state, four-year universities, was an opportunity to grow.

Ceja flexed his commitment to track and field and talked about his goal of working to improve his time and making it to the state finals in May.

“I knew he (Ceja) was gonna be a good steeplechaser. He just had that type of attitude. You gotta be a little crazy to do that great. He’s a really strong, strong runner.

“I think he’ll place at the state meet. One of (Ceja’s) good characteristics is that he’s got a strong finish. At the state meet it’s not who can run the fastest time it’s who can finish the strongest,” Head Coach Louis Ramirez said.

Olivia Reyes entered her steeplechase race at the Carnival with the top community college steeplechase time in the state.

“We try to emulate the (steeplechase) race as much as we can. We’re fortunate that we a steeplechase barrier and a water jump so we can actually train at home,” Ramirez said.

Freshmen twins Oscar and Aaron Jasso finished the night with two of the personal records each. Aaron Jasso finished with best times in the 800-meter run (1:58.49) and the 5,000-meter run (16:28.95). He was the only Husky to compete in the 5,000 run.

Oscar Jasso recorded his personal best times in the 1,500-meter run (4:21.36) and the steeplechase (11:33.50).

All-American sophomore Megan Magdaleno finished first in the seventh heat of the women’s 800-meter run while also recording the best time for the Huskies in the women’s 5,000-meter run. Her times in both races were personal records.

“(It’s Magdaleno’s) inexperience, she was never a distance runner. She was always a sprinter in high school. So all her track experience was equated to anything under one lap around the track. So having to run more than one lap is new to her. She hasnt ran track in over two years.”

Magdaleno earned All-American honors last semester finishing in the top-twelve at the cross country finals, a feat she accomplished after placing 48th in the SoCal finals. “I wanted it so bad that I committed myself to the coach’s (Ramirez) training everyday and getting through the pain was worth it,” Magdaleno said.

“Her cross country experience should translate pretty easily but, she didn’t do her off-season work that she should have continued with. A part of that is we have new district policies that they’re not allowed to work out with us (except) only during class time.”

“We want to improve our times but don’t focus on getting personal records each meet. We focus on our technique and what we learn in training each week.

“When it does happen, we know we are moving in the right direction. With our progress, we know we have a good team, but only if we continue to work hard each day,” Ceja said.

Two dozen Huskies broke personal records achieved against athletes from four-year universities with strong running programs such as Adams State University from Colorado, Alaska-Anchorage, Claremont Mudds-Scripps, Southern Utah University and others.

Huskies that ran their fastest times in the 800 run from the women’s team include Rosa Arellano, Vanessa Buelna, Cindy Escamilla, Amy Herrera, Anna Jimenez, Pee Lee, Rosa Lima, Vanessa Moore and Olivia Reyes. Arellano also ran her fastest steeplechase of the season.

Personal records in the 800 on the men’s side included Omar Alvarenga, Ryan Angel, Armendarez Avanti, Jose Arreola, Salvador Ascenio, Alejandro Collazo, Nelson Lucha, Antonio Oropeza, Fernando Sandoval, Arturo Tejeda, Michael Vallejos. Ascencio knocked off 20 seconds from his previous best time.

Kattie Padilla transferred her cross country skills to the track running a personal best in the women’s 5,000 run.

Kris Chacon led the entire 1,500-run race in his heat until the last 200-meters. “I just didn’t have enough left to finish it,” said Chacon. Chacon finished fourth running a personal best. He also ran his fastest 10,000 of his career.

“I want to focus on the 10,000 with a goal of advancing to state. The shorter distances help me with strength and I help out the teams.”

Andrew Torres also ran his fastest steeplechase. He fell hard and the crowd reacted with one of the loudest reactions of the night. “I didn’t have time to think about what happened other than just getting up to move on,” Torres said.

The pain on his face told his story and the crowd applauded his immediate effort to stay in the race.

The Huskies compete in the 70th Annual Pasadena Games next Friday and Saturday, all day at Robinson Stadium at Pasadena City College.

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