SANTA ROSA - Freshman Johnny Vargas found running on his home course to his liking last Saturday, winning the men's four-mile race for the Santa Rosa junior College men's cross country team at the Pat Ryan Invitational at Spring Lake Park. Meanwhile, on the women's side, sophomore Monica Ruelas raced to a 30-second win in the 5k race and helping the Panthers complement their men's team title with a women's banner.
Hartnell's men score just 28 points to take first place while Clovis came in second with 65. Diablo Valley (72), host Santa Rosa (95) and De Anza (104) completed the leaderboard. Hartnell won the women's title behind the fuel of four of the top six finishers. The Panthers scored 17 points to outdistance Santa Rosa (64), De Anza (76), Clovis (95) and American River (120).
The women's race featured three teams ranked in the 5CTCA State Rankings with Hartnell (4th), De Anza (11th) and Santa Rosa (12th), while the men's competition had Hartnell (T-8th) represented.
Vargas set the pace in the men's race, covering the first mile in 5 minutes, 10 seconds, before racing to the finish line in 20:23 and beating runner-up Caleb Llorin-Fernandez of Monterey Peninsula, who crossed in 20:29.5. Hartnell grabbed the next two spots with Nick Merillana (20:43.5) and Patrick Olson (20:50.7) leading five Panthers in the top 10.
Ruelas led a pack of seven Hartnell runners in the top 10 by finishing the five-team race in 18:31.1, well ahead of teammate Daniela Salazar who was second in 19:01.3. Emily Orellana was third in 19:15.0 while the Panthers' Arlene Diaz Leal was fourth in 19:24.9. Santa Rosa was led by freshman Ana Palafox and her fifth-place showing (19:47.9).