By Tadzio Garcia
Defending cross country state champion Laura Aceves is the first East Los Angeles College woman to become a Southern California Preview champion.
She won the Preview’s women’s 5-kilometer race Sept. 19 at Woodley Park in Van Nuys.
“I should have won a better race, but this is the time in the season to experiment and learn from,” Aceves said.
The women’s team took 12th place out of 26 teams. If they improve on their times, they have a good chance of advancing to the state finals according to Head Coach Louis Ramirez.
Aceves led from start to finish. “She however ran a minute slower than we planned, which we will work on,” Ramirez said. Aceves won in 18:11.7 minutes.
Aceves had a comfortable lead in the final mile to hold off Sierra Ungerman of Mt. San Antonio College, who sprinted the final 200-meters to take second.
“Ungerman’s strength is in her final sprint, but Laura (Aceves) was far enough ahead to win the race,” Ramirez said.
The long awaited race between Aceves, Aminat Olowara of Southwestern College and Yesenia Silva of College of the Sequoias fell through.
Sequoias changed their schedule and ran in San Francisco where Silva won the race with a time of 17:36.8 according to the Direct Athletics.
Southwestern was a no show at the SoCal Preview. Olowara beat Aceves in the Rio Hondo Classic Sept. 5 in 16:33.0, currenlty the fastest time in the state. “It would have been great to run with them,” Aceves said.
The three athletes are scheduled to meet in the Mt. SAC Invitational in mid-October. The week-long meet is the largest in the nation drawing more than 25,000 participants according to a Mt. SAC official.
At the SoCal Preview, the men’s team, who placed 15th at last year’s state finals, took 21st place out of 30 teams, two which ran incomplete teams.
Sophomore Andres De La Cruz placed 29th to finish the top ELAC runner in the men’s four-mile “A” race.
“For me the biggest problem was the first half mile, falling too far behind the lead pack. This part of the (race) was too narrow for the amount of runners (competing) and someone actually fell down,” De La Cruz said.
“We are now familiar with the course and its problems and can work on them to run much faster when the SoCal finals are here.”
De La Cruz caught up to the front pack and stayed with them to the last mile. “I got to the top pack with spurts of sprints, but used too much lactate (acid) in doing so,” De La Cruz said.
“I paid the price in the last mile when runners were passing me.”
Returning to the men’s team after a two year break to focus on his studies was Omar Alvarenga who finished as ELAC’s No. 3 runner in the SoCal Preview, behind sophomore Cristian Flores who finished in ELAC’s No. 2 spot.
Rounding out the scoring from ELAC’s current eight-man roster was freshman Justin Torres and sophomore Salvador Ascencio. “There was a lot of dust to breathe in, which we can work on to improve,” teammate Andrew Perez said.
Huskies that scored for the women’s team included freshman Stephanie Trelles, who ran her first college race in 20:53.5, and sophomores Ruby Padilla, Guadalupe Yanez and Viridiana Hernandez.
Hernandez sprinted the last 100 meters to finish ahead of three runners, but it was not enough to edge teammate Yanez who ran less than a second faster.
“I’m pleased with both teams result on this slow course. Even so, we need to improve on our times,” ELAC Head Coach Louis Ramirez said.
The Huskies will compete in the Golden West Central Park Classic in Huntington Beach on Friday.