Laura Aceves runs to center stage, state finals

Freshman Laura Aceves runs through the final funnel to win the prestigious SoCal Cross Country Championship women's 5 kilometer race on Nov. 8 in Santa Clarita.
ROAD PAVED TO GOLD– Freshman Laura Aceves runs through the final funnel to win the prestigious SoCal Cross Country Championship women’s 5 kilometer race on Nov. 8 in Santa Clarita. CN/TADZIO GARCIA

Laura Aceves won the women’s Southern California Cross Country Championships individual title in Santa Clarita Nov. 8 and moves on to center stage, the state finals.

She is the second Husky in 68 years to win both the South Coast Conference and SoCal finals in the same year.

In 1986, Sylvia Mosqueda scored a three-peat, also winning the state title.

The 2013 Cross Country State Championships are on Saturday at 10 a.m. at Woodward Park in Fresno.

The women’s team could not overcome season-long injuries and did not qualify for state.

“Despite the injuries we gave it our all and leave the season with the (accomplishment) of having qualified for SoCal. All but two return and we look forward to next season,” ELAC teammate Ruby Padilla said.

Padilla just missed out in qualifying for the state finals. She screamed sprinting to the finish line beating Sylvia Longworth of Cuyamaca College by less than one third of a second.

Padilla lost to Kylie Guerrero of San Bernardino Valley College by 5/100’s of a second.

Grace Hanshaw of San Diego Mesa College, Moorpark College’s Rachel Naumann, Elizabeth Nelson of Glendale Community College, Karen Silvas and Leanne Allen both of Orange Coast College all bested Aceves at the SoCal Preview Friday Sept. 13, also at Central Park.

Aceves surpassed these women beginning mid-season, one by one, except for Naumann.

Naumann led after the first mile at the SoCal finals closely followed by Aceves and Hanshaw.

Aceves was alone when she turned the corner for the final 100-yard stretch to the loud and faint sounds of the Husky faithful.

Hanshaw and Naumann turned the corner sprinting but it was not enough. Aceves won in 18:35.78 minutes, four seconds faster than Hanshaw and who beat Naumann by nine seconds.

“I came in with a plan for each mile to win this race. You have to run smart,” Aceves said.

Aceves looked in pain, but exhilarated, after the race when Assistant Coach David Loera asked her to sign his program after congratulating her.

She accepted her gold medal for being the fastest women’s community college runner in Southern California to the loud approval of the ELAC throng.

Orange Coast was favored to win the women’s team title after winning the SoCal Preview and did not disappoint. Silvas and Allen led defending state champion Orange Coast to an easy SoCal finals win.

ELAC placed 22nd at the preview and had an entire season to improve times that would bring them up four spots at the SoCal finals to qualify for state.

The Huskies were on the bubble after a season of improved times.

“Even with many injuries we never doubted ourselves. All of our times got faster as the season progressed,” ELAC’s Annai Jimenez said.

After the Huskies found out they did not qualify for state, they congratulated each other on a great season.

Huskies who qualified for the SoCal finals in the order they finished were Aceves, Padilla, Yanez, Briana Lewis, Sandy Bautista, Amy Herrera and Jimenez.

Lewis ends her ELAC career and Karina Toribio moves on to track and field.

“It was hard work, but fun to compete for ELAC,” Lewis said.

Toribio began the season as the No. 3 runner for the Huskies, but an injury ended her cross country run last week.

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