By William Hernandez
It has been awhile since the East Los Angeles College Athletic Department has accomplished as much all-around success as they have in 2014.
When the regular season concluded for spring sports last month, ELAC had four teams competing in the California Community College Athletic Association playoffs.
“From top to bottom its probably been the most successful season we have ever had since I have been associated with this school and that goes back to 1989,” ELAC Athletic Director Al Cone said.
Four out of the eight teams that competed during the spring and winter semester (badminton, baseball, men’s basketball and softball) finished atop the South Coast Conference in their respective sports.
“I am so proud of what our student athletes have accomplished. I always knew that we had good enough coaches, but when the kids become the main priority, this kind of success will always happen,” Cone said.
For the Husky sports teams, the first half of 2014 is the start of something new.
It’s apparent with all the ongoing construction and renovations, that the bar has been raised for ELAC as a college.
With the recent athletic upswing, there is no doubt that the Huskies are a durable program that is here to stay.
“It feels so cool to hear people say so many good things about us at so many different meetings. Instead of hearing: ‘Why do we have athletics?’” Cone said
The men’s basketball team accomplished something they haven’t won in 42 years.
They conquered the 2014 SCC title and hosted a home playoff game against Citrus College.
Citrus defeated ELAC 86-81, Feb. 28 in a competitive double overtime thriller.
“It’s exciting to see the guys put the effort in and work hard to accomplish their goals. The goal is to make sure these guys move on and matriculate to play at the next level,” John Mosley, ELAC men’s basketball head coach, said.
“We take the Pete Carroll philosophy and say ‘win forever’ because if they continue to win in everything they do, on and off the court, it will pay off for them, being able to move on to the four year (university),” Mosley said.
On the diamond, ELAC’s baseball and softball team broke out onto the scene with fast starts.
The baseball team recorded a 25-15 overall record and ended 15-6 in the SCC.
Both teams finished the season tied for first place in the SCC and both teams lost first-round games in the CCCAA playoffs.
“It’s never happened before where we had both teams win their league in the same year. The coaches did a hell of a job, and the players bought into what they said,” Cone said.
Away from the public eye, the softball team finished the regular season 29-9 overall, behind the stellar pitching of California CCCAA Pitcher of the Year Alashanee Medina and the excellent coaching job done by SCC Coach of the Year Erika Blanco and her assistant coaching staff.
“I knew starting in January that this was going to be a special year. They are very mature and athletically one of the most talented teams I have ever had,” Blanco said.
For the past five years, the ELAC women’s badminton team has finished behind or tied with their arch-rival Pasadena City College.
But in 2014, ELAC won the SCC title outright by winning all of their conference games (12-0).
At the CCCAA track and field championships, Laura Aceves of the ELAC women’s team finished first in both the steeplechase and the 10,000 – meter runs.
ELAC almost made a clean-sweep in both steeplechase events, but ELAC’s Gonzalo Ceja finished third in the men’s steeplechase, 9:33.06 minutes.
“He was in the lead with a lap-and-a-half to go,” ELAC track and field Head Coach Louis Ramirez said.
The Huskies had a season to remember, but outside the lines, they are working hard at maintaining good academic standing, giving back to the community and moving on to the next level of four-year universities.
But rest assured, this will not be a one-hit wonder for the Husky sports teams.
According to Cone, the Athletic Department has the proper system in place to maintain the success and recognition that the Huskies established in 2014.
Two swim and dive team freshmen received nine All-American status awards.
Alice Fei Zhang received seven awards and Wenning Shen two. Zhang won a silver medal at the state championships held at ELAC.