By Woody Wilk
Retired Fresno City College Sports Information Director, CCCSIA Brass Top Honoree, State Cross Country CCCSIA media specialist
FRESNO - Mountain climbers use harnesses, lanyards, axes, anchors and crampons to reach lofty goals. The San Diego Mesa College men’s cross country team used their feet to achieve a recent pinnacle: the 30-100 win over defending state champion Mt. San Antonio College in the Southern California championships at San Diego’s Mission Bay Park on Nov. 8
On the same day and place, a group of Glendale College freshmen women ran like veterans to win their race, a convincing 58-107 victory over Saddleback College. In so doing, these teams appear to be favorites for the California Communty College Athletic Association Championships at Woodward Park in Fresno on Saturday, Nov. 23. The 43rd CCCAA women’s 3.1-mile race starts at 10 a.m. while the gun sounds for the 56th men’s 4-mile race at 11 a.m.
SDM was led by 1-2 finishers Stefen Rasmuson and Isaiah Labra, both 2018 CCCAA All-Americans (Labra 3rd, Rasmuson, 5th). Close behind at 7-8 were teammates Cristian Alcantar and Bobby Brana. Medhane Woldu wrapped up SDM’s crest quest finishing 15th.
For the first time since 2004, Glendale’s women didn’t finish in the 2018 CCCAA top five. With a 2019 SoCal title, they’re back! A gold mine of GC freshman talent is here led by Yajaira Calderon, 3rd; Jamie Levin, 8th; Bianca Biel, 12th and Lydia Forsyth, 26th. Soph Phoebe Forsyth was 9th. Two additional freshmen, Viviana Martin Del Campo and Jasmine Corralejo, ran well and it appears the Lady Vaqueros are also poised for 2020. GC has won eight state titles, five under Ed Lopez and five runner-up finishes, also under Lopez.
Northern California contenders might say, ‘not so fast.’ Hartnell College’s women, perennial contenders, outran the field scoring a 29-109 triumph over Sierra College. Clovis CC was third at 118 on the Toro Park course in Salinas, Nov. 8.
Diablo Valley’s Julia Gonzalez, a 2018 All-American, 8th at CCCAA championships, won the individual title while 2019 SoCal individual winner Olivia Burton of Ventura was 3rd at the 2018 CCCAA. Nevertheless, HC’s Lady Panthers were cat-quick to the team title. In team scoring Daniela Salazar was 1st, followed by Shantal Martinez, 2nd; Valeria Lozano-Gomez 3rd; Nerina Campos, 4th and Faith Mora, 19th.
American River’s men’s team, also a perennial NorCal and state power, defeated College of the Sequoias, 41-71 despite COS’ Ismael Ramirez, a 2018 All-American, winning the individual title. His teammate, Oscar Perez, was runnerup. ARC’s Colin DeJulio and Jesus Guerra-Reyes were 3rd and 5th while Josh King and Ben Blankenberg placed 8-9 in scoring. Peter Vo wrapped up ARC’s 19th NorCal title finishing 16th. All but Guera-Reyes are sophomores.
“San Diego Mesa’s men have jumped in as a prohibitive favorite. Glendale’s women could take it with Hartnell second. On both sides, I think it is wide open for second place,” said Gary Bluth, meet director and Fresno City College cross country coach.
Although it hasn’t rained in Fresno since May 26, it is forecast for Wednesday with snow above 6,000 feet in the nearby High Sierras. Fall Fresno temperatures have been unseasonably warm with highs in the 70s and low 80s. Saturday’s forecast is for normal early morning temperatures in the 40s and race-time temperatures in the mid-60s. An ideal scenario for championship distance races.