By Dan Gudino
As finals approach for students, student-athletes finish their spring season with the ups and downs only sports can bring.
East Los Angeles College, during the spring semester, has six different sports to cheer for. Softball, baseball, men’s and women’s track and field, badminton and women’s swim and dive.
The current on-going season of track and field, for both men and women, has brought the most success. Sophomore Cesar Santisteban continues to succeed, earning a qualified spot in the shot put and javelin throw in the SoCal Finals held in Antelope Valley College last Saturday and May 14.
Santisteban was the lone champion for ELAC at the South Coast Conference Championship at Mount San Antonio College April 29. He won the shot put with a strong mark of 46 feet and 8 inches. He also placed second in the discus and the javelin throw.
Overall, Santisteban stands in fifth place going into Saturday’s final day of competition at AVC.
On the women’s side of track and field, sophomore steeplechase runner Viridiana Hernandez sits at No. 11 and qualified for the final day of competition. The steeplechase is a grueling 3,000 meter race around the track with obstacles, 28 barriers and seven water jumps.
On the diamond with softball and baseball, we saw the good and the ugly. The year was determined by early season woes that cost both teams to resurge late in the season, only to be kept out of the playoffs.
Baseball and softball saw a strong push in the last month of the season, but to no avail. Baseball only lost four games in the month of April. The 9-4 month of April was not enough, two losses in two critical games versus Pasadena City College and El Camino Compton Center-College were the deciding factor for baseball.
Both games were close battles, one-run lost games that defined the season as oh-so-close. An overall 17-19 season for baseball marked the second straight season ELAC was held out of the playoffs.
Softball shared a similar fate. The Huskies finished 17-21 and 9-12 in the South Coast Conference. Like the men, the month of April played tease to the softball team. With a chance to storm back into playoff contention, three losses in April proved to be too many and cost ELAC a berth in the playoffs.
Softball, like baseball, missed the playoffs for the second straight season and finished fourth in the SCC.
In the pool, the Huskies had little success. The swim and dive team did have a strong swimmer, their star out of the Shandong Sports School in China, Yixue Wang.
Throughout the season, Wang placed in the top 10 in many categories. In the first swim meet of the season at the SCC Relays at Rio Hondo College, Wang anchored the 200-meter Medley Relay and took second place in February. In the following event at the Mt. SAC Invitational, she placed third in the 50-yard backstroke, making it seem like a run for state might be a possibility.
The strong teams within the SCC and throughout SoCal made it tough for team victories. The eventual champions of California, Orange Coast College, made it look easy. The beach community school took 12 out of 20 swims in the state championships held here at ELAC. ELAC failed to place within the top 20 for the state finals.
The badminton team might argue it had or is having the better season of all ELAC sports, but like all ELAC sports in the spring, the Achilles heel was found, making it a little rough. The arch nemesis of Huskies, Pasadena City College, considered the number one team in the state and some ranking number one in the country, always found its way against ELAC.
PCC swept ELAC during the regular season on all three occasions, which were the only losses of the season for the Huskies. ELAC finished 6-3 in the regular season, but finds itself in the doubles championship run with freshman duo Serena Lieu and Jean Mornelle Buenaflor.
Buenaflor and Lieu are in the hunt for a double title starting this Friday at 2 p.m. The only problem might be it’s held in hostile territory, at PCC.
The feelgood sports story of the spring was a carry-over from winter and started back in fall. The women’s basketball team made East L.A. proud with its runner-up to state. Credit has to be given to the men who showed up in the spring and finished runner-up in SoCal.
The fall sports season will see football, basketball, cross country, water polo, volleyball and wrestling.