Mt. San Antonio claims men's and women's 3C2A Cross Country Championships for second straight year
FRESNO – Mother Nature dumped a little water on the competition at the 3C2A Men’s and Women’s Cross Country Championships at Woodward Park in Fresno on Saturday morning, but the Mt. San Antonio College teams didn’t let her rain on their parades as the Mounties swept both titles for the second consecutive year.
The Mt. SAC women captured their third straight overall.
Mt. SAC didn’t have their first women’s finisher until Aariana Amezcua in ninth place (18:45.1), but the Mounties packed well after that, placing all five scores among the top 25. That was enough to score 86 team points and outdistance runner-up San Diego Mesa College which had the individual champion in Alexis Noble (17:54.7). The Olympians finished with 119 points. Clovis (150), Riverside City (176) and Hartnell (224) rounded out the top five.
Jyden Schmid gave San Diego Mesa the individual champion on the men’s side as well with his time of 19:58.6 over the four-mile championship layout, but Mt. SAC used a runner-up finish from Johnathon Zavala (20:09.3), a fifth-place showing from Jordan Galindo (20:23.7) and seventh place from Matthew Donis (20:29.2) to counter Shmid and third-place runner Victor Rosas (20:15.8) and edge the Olympians, 49-54.
Bakersfield finished in third place in the men’s team standings, scoring 134 points and was followed by Riverside City (167) and San Bernardino Valley (225) in the top five.
Rain was in the forecast heading into Saturday’s race and what began as a light drizzle in the hours before racing turned into steady rain at the start of the women’s race. It didn’t turn into a complete downpour but it factored enough for teams to be concerned with it.
“Today, we didn’t know what was going to happen, if it was going to start pouring on the men’s side,” said Mt. San Antonio coach Daniel Ozan. “But we kept our cool and were patiently aggressive. That’s a key for us in a majority of the races we compete in.”
He said his women’s team also had to pay attention to any curveballs the rain had in store.
“I think coming in we wanted to get a little more conservative,” Ozan said. “We knew that the course could’ve potentially been a little bit wet but we were a little bit conservative, worked our way up the last mile-and-a-half and capitalized on the last 800 meters.”
Noble, a freshman, ran her first mile of the 3.1 mile (5k) race in 5:41 and then showed consistency with a 5:49 split for the second mile. She said the rain almost tripped her up but she was able to stick with her game plan.
“There was a nice cloud cover but the mud was very slippery and I did almost fall a few times but I managed to not,” she said. “Going into the race, I just wanted to stay with the top pack and to see where I stood up against them.
“I was just giving it my all (coming down the stretch),” she added. “I was like ‘Please don’t let this go past me.’ I definitely had pain on my face and I just wanted to give it all I had so that I had no regrets crossing the line.”
Noble battled Ventura’s Sophia Godina over the final meters with both of them engaging in a classic head-to-head battle. Godina was a close second in 17:56.06 while Glendale’s Samantha Medrano was third in 18:06.49. Ami Jacobson of El Camino was fourth (18:12.00) and teammate Sequoia Gonzales was fifth in 18:14.50.
Schmid was close to the lead throughout the men’s race, sitting in third after posting a split of 5:01 over the first mile. He was in second after a 5:06 time in the second mile and then matched that time to stay in second after the third.
Zavala was fourth after the first mile but then moved into third to challenge for the lead. He eventually got into second where he paced with Rosas and Riverside City’s Ernesto Ruiz, who grabbed fourth place in 20:16.37.
Schmid said his focus was on keeping an even pace until facing a big hill toward the latter part of the race.
“That big hill is kind of what makes or breaks a race,” he said. “My plan was to run at a decent pace. Obviously, I knew it was going to be tactical today but just run my own race and that’s what happened.”
Shmid showed some enthusiastic emotion after crossing the line, encouraging his teammates behind him.
“I definitely wanted my team to win but we still showed up today (and) we still performed so there’s nothing to be disappointed about,” he said. “But about my own performance, I wanted this since the beginning. Everything I’ve been doing has been leading up to this moment and to see it come through this day means the world to me.”
Mt. SAC and San Diego Mesa have built an exciting rivalry that has extended from the southern California into statewide competition.
“I love the rivalry,” Ozan said. “I’ve known (San Diego Mesa head coach) Sean (Ricketts). We raced in high school, junior college and college together. It’s a great rivalry to have and it’s really, really fun. Obviously, it’s stressful but it’s fun every single time we compete.”
The state championship was the fifth for Mt. San Antonio’s men’s team and their fourth since 2017. The Mountie women won for the 12th time overall and the fifth time since 2014.
The top 14 finishers in each race earned All-State first-team honors from the 5CTCA while the next 14 finishers garnered second-team honors.
A total of 181 men and 167 women competed in the races which were once again spearheaded by Clovis Community College head coach CJ Albertson, his staff and student-athletes. The atmosphere was championship quality once again and gave competitors and fans a great experience, despite attempts from Mother Nature to have a say in it.