Tradition-rich Hartnell College cross country programs name All-Decade Teams

Hartnell College, a perennial cross country power on the regional and state map, reached into its past to name All-Decade Teams for both its men's and women's programs.
Hartnell College, a perennial cross country power on the regional and state map, reached into its past to name All-Decade Teams for both its men's and women's programs.

SALINAS - Under the direction of head coach Christopher Zepeda, the Hartnell College Cross Country program has named its men's and women's All-Decade teams for 2010-19.

Victoria Alcala (2011-2012) came to Hartnell College from Everett Alvarez High School. She had modest personal bests of 20:21 at Toro Park and 20:03 at Crystal Springs. Victoria did not decide to come out for cross country until the third race of the season. She used the final eight weeks of the season to set a new personal best at Crystal Springs in 19:49 and place 24th at Norcals. As a sophomore, she broke the Woodward Park 5k program record (19:02) while placing 19th at the state championship. She was the conference runner up at Crystal Springs in the #6 all-time mark (18:40). She was 7th in the region in her second try. Her fall cross country breakout would preclude a dominate track season where she won three conference and three regional titles and established the Norcal 3k steeplechase record. Victoria accepted a scholarship to Metropolitan State University-Denver where she graduated with her degree in psychology.

Brandi Hobson (2013-2014) traveled just down Main Street from North Salinas High School to Hartnell. She came in with best of 20:51 at Toro Park, 21: 59 at Crystal Springs, and 25:01 at Woodward Park. She was twice the conference runner up and placed 7th twice at Norcals demonstrating her consistency in effort in championship races. She was the highest placing Panther at the State Championship as a freshman crossing the line in 51st.  An All American 14th place concluded her cross country career despite missing two weeks during the season due to injury.Her 18:47 Woodward Park was just the second sub 19 5k in program history and is still #5 all-time. Brandi would go on to qualify to the spring championship at 5000m and 10,000 meters. Brandi accepted a scholarship from Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls, TX where she graduated with both her bachelor's and master's degrees. 

Rachel Shimabukuro (2014-2015) returned to the sport after nearly 3 years away from her high school bests of 19:29 at Toro Park, 18:51 at Crystal Springs, and 19:26 at Woodward Park. She quickly regained the form and surpassed that of which had her as one of the top high school performers from San Benito High School.  Rachel was 3rd and 2nd at conference in her two years, placed 5th and 6th in her two regional performances with her 18:56 Toro Park mark #3 all-time. At the state championship, she was 19th as a frosh and 13th as a sophomore for All American honors. Rachel was the third woman ever to run sub 19:00 at Woodward Park at 18:43 and is still #4 all-time. Rachel earned an additional All-American honor on the track in the 3k steeplechase and is #2 all-time in the event. Rachel accepted a scholarship to Metropolitan State University-Denver and recently completed her degree from CSU Monterey Bay. 

Malena Grover (2014-2015) came into Hartnell College from down the street at Salinas High School with solid bests of 19:28 at Toro Park and 19:18 at Crystal Springs. She spearheaded two amazing teams during the decade while at Hartnell, but as an individual was the top performer of the decade. Malena won two conference titles both at Crystal Springs where she lowered her best by over 50 seconds, placed 4th and 2nd in the region, and was the second woman ever to earn back to back All American honors in cross country joining Kathy Lenno. She has the top performance on three different courses and is #3 at Crystal Springs (18:24). Her Woodward Park time of 18:06 is nearly 30 seconds faster than the next best mark.Malena earned All-American honors in each of the seasons during her time at Hartnell College, two in cross country and three in track & field total. She is the college record holder at 1500m, 5000m, and 10,000m. Malena accepted a scholarship to Adams State University where she was a member of national championship squads. Most recently, Malena competed in the 2020 US Olympic Marathon Trials. 

Arlene DiazLeal (2017-2018) competed before all the women on this list but a 10 year hiatus after graduating from Everett Alvarez High School. Her high school results pre-date the traditional reference sites! That did not deter her from enjoying the Hartnell experience as a runner. Balancing work, motherhood, athletics, and school she enjoyed two outstanding years of cross country. Her accomplishments in cross country come without the usual complimentary track season as her focus in the spring was making up for lost time on her degree and taking care of her son. Arlene was the conference champion as a freshman and 4th at Norcals, a surprise to nearly all of the region in her debut season. Arlene returned the next year to place 3rd at conference and 5th at the regional becoming a rare two time top 5 performer. She earned all-state with her 19th place finish at the state championship and is ranked#10 at Woodward Park. Arlene accepted a scholarship to CSU Monterey Bay and is in her final semester of her degree. 

Monica Ruelas (2017-2018) followed the legacy of her sister Maritza to Hartnell College from Gilroy High School but she was determined to pave her own path and that she did. Monica has run 20:40 at Toro Park, 19:57 at Crystal Springs, and 20:35 at Woodward Park. After a solid first season as a Panther that saw Monica earn all-conference and all-region honors while breaking 20:00 at Woodward Park,she had a breakout sophomore year. Monica stormed to win the conference title, placed 2nd in the region and 7th at state jumping 47 places in one year.  A double all region performer, she is #2 all-time at Woodward Park at 18:35 running nearly 90 seconds faster than her first year and two minutes faster than high school. Monica added an All-American honor on the track at 1500 meters is #2 all-time at 5000 meters. Monica attended Notre Dame de Namur University for year and is currently enrolled at the University of Alaska Anchorage. 

Daniela Salazar (2018-2019) entered Hartnell College from Watsonville High School with bests her final year as a Wildcat of 19:42 at Woodward Park and 19:41 at Toro Park. Daniela never placed lower than 3rd in the region her two years, placing 3rd as a freshman and 2nd as a sophomore. She joined Grover as a rare double All American placing 5th and 7th in her two championship races, the lowest combined places since 1980. She is #3 at Woodward Park with her freshman mark of 18:36. She was the only runner in Northern California to twice defeat the eventual regional champion during the season. Daniela had her final track & field season cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic despite posting state leading marks at 1500m and 3000m. Danieal transferred to San Jose State University on full athletic scholarship. 

Miguel Gallegos (2010-2011) came from North Monterey County High School where he finished his career as the top Condor. Miguel ran 16:25 at Toro Park and 16:29 at Woodward Park as a senior. While at Hartnell, Miguel was Coast conference champion as a frosh running a solid 21:00 at Toro Park. He was 2nd as a sophomore finishing behind fellow All-Decade honoree Soratos. Miguel twice finished in the top 7 at the Northern CA championship with the third best combined places of all this list. He was 7th as a freshman and 6th as a sophomore. At the State Championship he finished as the fourth best Norcal runner showing he was still improving that season. He lead the Panthers at state both years earning All American honors in 11th running 20:30 and 35th as a freshman in 21:09. His Woodward Park time is still #3 all-time. Miguel competed for NAIA national powerhouse Southern Oregon University after Hartnell Collge. 

Cristian Soratos (2010-2011) experienced the same meteoric rise at Hartnell College as the one he experienced down the street at Salinas High School. Cristian ran 16:52 at Toro Park and had never run on the championship course at Woodward Park. While at Hartnell College, he dominated nearly all of his second year making the jump from role runner to team leader in just one year. He won three regular season meets and placed third overall at the Fresno Invitational dropping over a minute at Woodward Park.He won the conference title over the previous year's champion teammate Gallegos and was 5th at Norcals after finishing 19th as a freshman. Cristian completed his career with his second sub 21:00 clocking at Woodward Park and 29th at State. Only Leon and Ramirez on this list achieved this feat as well. Cristian is the school record holder at 1500 meters (3:47.03). He signed a scholarship with NCAA DI Montana State University. He competed professionally for Adidas and finished second in the USA Indoor Championship Mile. He retired with a lifetime best 3:54 mile. 

Michel Ramirez (2012-2013) was brand new to the sport of cross country before enrolling at Hartnell College from Salinas High School. His accomplishments overs two years are all the more impressive given he had only run one season of track for the Cowboys and his 1600 meter personal best is the slowest of the seven. Michel was twice all conference with 6th and 2nd with running 20:37 at Toro Park in his runner-up effort. He was all region with 10th and 3rd, twice leading the Panthers at the Northern California Championship. In his final race he was trampled at the start but Michel added to his legend by getting up and finishing 9th at state for All American honors.  Despite the fal,l his 20:32 Woodward Park performanceis #5 all-time. Michel signed with the University of Alaska Anchorage after Hartnell College. 

Diego Leon (2013-2014) was nearly unknown coming out of CIF Division V Anzar High School. He did run 16:20 at Toro Park and 16:47 at Woodward Park but no one could have predicted his accomplishments as a Panther. Diego won the Coast  Conference and Northern California titles as a sophomore. He saved his best for last becoming the program's only state champion of the decade and second in program history. His freshman year he was 4th at Norcals and 3rd at conference. Diego produced a  21:09 at Woodward Park time in his first race as a Panther, the second best of the group but his 20:10 to complete career is the fastest in program history. Diego also established the Toro Park program record before it was bettered by Esqueda in 2017. He is #2 all-time at Crystal Springs beind only Hartnell's other state champion Danny Tapia, both holding sub 21:00 clockings for the 4.195 course. His 20:10 is also #2 all-time behind Tapia at Woodward Park. Diego is the Hartnell College 5000 meter school record holder and won three state championships in his final track season for the Panthers. Diego signed an athletic scholarship to NCAA DI Montana State University. He set the MSU record in the 5000m (13:39) in his final season. 

Edgar Bonilla (2015-2016) entered Hartnell College as the most decorated cross country runner of this group. He paced the King City Mustangs with two top 10 CIF State finishes and had a Woodward Park best of 15:46. He also had the fastest Toro Park performance at 15:45. Edgar was twice Coast Conference champ both times on the famed 4.195 course at Crystal Springs. He showed his ability at the regional championship placing 5th as a true freshman running 20:35 at Toro Park which stands as the #5 all-time mark. He won the presitigous Fresno Invitational establishing himself as a state championship contender with only Leon winning the same meet during the decade. He ran side by side with Jorge Sanchez to finish as runner-up at the regional championship by a fraction of a second as a sophomore. Edgar is the decade's best state performer earning All American with 9th and 5th place finishes his two years. He ran sub 21:00 at Woodward Park three times, the most of anyone on this list. Edgar has the #4 best mark at Woodward Park and

Jorge Sanchez (2015-2016) the lone Everett Alvarez Eagle on the list with a Toro Park best of 16:17 as a senior. Jorge never ran at Woodward Park until he became a Panther. Jorge was a two time All Coast Conference performan and the conference runner-up as sophomore to teammate Bonilla. Jorge jumped up to Norcal champion as a sophomore after placing 10th as a freshman. He was the second Panther at state as as freshman but returned for his second year to jump nearly 30 places and to 9th overall for All American. A consistent high performer, Jorge's sophomore season was highlighted with breakout races. Jorge won the state championship in the 5000 meters his final season as a Panther. He continued his career on scholarship at the University of Alaska Anchorage.

Ricky Esqueda (2017) like Shimabukuro on the women's list found his way to Hartnell College from San Benito High School after a few years away from the sport. Ricky brought previous experience at Toro Park to the tune of a 16:14 best from his senior year, the second best of this group. Ricky had one year with the Panthers but squeezed a whole career into his six month fall. He won the Coast Conference title comfortably. Ricky became the third Northern CA champion of the decade for the Panthers on his home course at Toro Park. Set Toro Park course for Hartnell (20:15). He finished his one Hartnell season with All American honors at state in 12th place. His 20:40 is #7 all-time. Ricky won the Northern CA 10,000 meter title in his one track season for the Panthers. After Hartnell College, Ricky signed with NCAA DII Western State University in Gunnison, Colorado. He would be a member of the 3rd place national finish team.