By Tadzio Garcia
The East Los Angeles College cross-country teams competed without their top runners, mostly due to injuries, and settled for sixth place finishes at the Foothill Invitational Friday in San Bernardino.
San Bernardino Valley College won the men’s team title while Cuyamaca College won the women’s championship.
ELAC sophomore Cristian Flores placed sixth in San Bernardino in the men’s four-mile race and was named to his first ever men’s all-tournament top-10 team.
Freshman Robert Freeman of Santiago College won the men’s race, with a time 48 seconds faster than Flores.
The women’s team, which ran without defending individual state cross country champion sophomore Laura Aceves, placed sixth.
“We gave Laura the day off to rest after training her so hard this week,” ELAC Head Coach Louis Ramirez said.
Without Aceves, ELAC, the 13th-ranked women’s team in the state, could not avoid upsets from unranked Cuyamaca, Pasadena City, Santiago Canyon and Fullerton colleges in the 5-kilometer race.
Freshmen Stephanie Trelles and Viridiana Hernandez sprinted to claim ELAC’s top two spots. Trelles edged Hernandez two seconds to place 19th.
Freshman Pandora Mondragon of San Bernardino Valley College won the women’s race after leading from start to finish.
The races at the Foothill Invitational were on a bumpy course on a hot day according to ELAC sophomore Guadalupe Yanez.
“It was flat at times, but running on the grass was difficult,” Yanez said.
The men’s team also took home sixth place without their top runner sophomore Andres De La Cruz as well as freshman Salvador Ascencio and sophomore Fernando Jauregui, all three recovering from injuries.
Flores ran near the top pack the entire race and cracked the top-ten by 11 seconds.
“It felt good to work hard for something like this and get results,” Flores said.
“It could have been two of us though. I miss (teammate) Andres not being here.”
The hot day in San Bernardino included gusts of winds.
“When we ran (the men’s team), there were strong winds hitting us from the front so it was a hard race. I adjusted to (compensate),” freshman Daniel Lopez said.
Lopez finished as ELAC’s No. 5 man, adding crucial points for the Huskies.
Other Huskies scoring for the men’s team included sophomore Aaron Jasso, freshman Justin Perez and sophomore Omar Alvarenga.
Huskies scoring for the women’s team included Trelles, Hernandez, Yanez, Ruby Padilla and Luz Badillo.
East Los Angeles College returns to action Friday at 3 p.m. at the Santa Barbara City College Invitational at Leadbetter Beach/Shoreline Park.