By Hannah Belt
The track and field athletes move on to the state championships after qualifying in San Diego to compete in the SoCal finals.
The competition took place at San Diego Mesa on Friday, May 12.
Competing athletes left campus at 11 a.m. to make the two-hour journey to San Diego; they did not get home until close to 9 p.m.
After competing in preliminaries, select Huskies qualified to compete at a higher level, the SoCal Finals.
“Qualifying for this meet starts at the conference championship. (Competitors) have to be top five in (their) conference, and then go to the SoCal Prelims. (Competitors) then compete with all of the junior colleges in Southern California that also qualify from their conference. The top nine in lane events and 12 in the distance-and-field events make the SoCal finals,” said Coach Milton Browne.
22-year-old competing sophomore, and track and field captain Carlos DeLuna said the feeling of qualifying to compete at the SoCal finals is, “a huge ‘I did it’ feeling because last year I was only able to qualify for the SoCal preliminaries and got knocked down.”
19-year-old competing freshman Fernando Valenzuela said the feeling of going to finals as, “something I can’t explain. I’m definitely proud of myself because of what I’ve done to get here but the nerves do kick in. I remember to tell myself why I’m here and who I’m here for, which is my mom and myself.”
Both DeLuna and Valenzuela were two of the only track and field athletes to qualify to compete in the SoCal finals.
Both runners have competed in the sport since high school and both are majoring in something fitness-related; DeLuna is studying Kinesiology, and Venezuela is studying nutrition and fitness.
Valenzuela said qualifying for the finals was something he told himself he was going to do.
“I gave it my everything preparing myself for the season,” he said.
Venezuela said that prelims were intense and that he fell short to an opponent, but all at once ran a personal record which is all that matters to him.
DeLuna said that he already knew he would qualify, “because I set a goal of going to state and finishing where I had left off.”
He said he prepared for the SoCal finals by, “eating enough and making sure I have three days of good sleep and lots of recovery.”
As a sophomore in the sport, DeLuna has experience, and this is not his first opportunity to understand the demand of this caliber of competition.
“Competing at this level is a whole new thing, you have to struggle hard to reach and be able to stay up there with the competition,” DeLuna said.
DeLuna said the, “competition was pretty intense.”
He also said, “I’m glad I’m able to represent East Los Angeles alongside my teammate Valenzuela. I’m glad to be captain of a great team.”
As the season comes to an end, the athletes are forced to imagine what is to become of them after the season.
DeLuna said he plans to transfer, “after the season, I will be going to Cal State LA to continue my journey in becoming a professional at the hurdles.”
Venezuela, still ELAC-bound, said his next job will be, “to take a few weeks off and get back to work because the job isn’t done yet. There’s still more work I have to do.”
The state championship will be played on Saturday.