MISSION BAY, CA — The men’s cross country team opened the season with a disappointing 24th place finish at the SoCal Preview meet on the scenic oceanfront of Tecolote Shores at Mission Bay Park.
It was the first meet for East Los Angeles College because its season opener was cancelled, the Rio Hondo Invite. Rio Hondo College dropped the sport of cross country this semester.
ELAC ran its largest meet of the season (326 men) with a small six-member team. The lack of 2015 experience showed in the 4-mile course.
“We tried to run with a strategy, but it didn’t work out to well for us,” said ELAC Coach Louis Ramirez.
The Huskies will need to improve nine places if they want to advance to the state finals this year, which would be the third time in four years.
“We have to go out and run to stand up to this challenge. The team is capable (of going to state), and they know it,” said Ramirez.
Returning sophomores Andrew Perez (Montebello High School) and Justin Torres (Alhambra HS) battled to establish ELAC’s No. 1 runner. Perez blew by Torres by 43.1 second.
“We all should have done better,” said Perez. “We have to step it up.”
Finishing in the No. 3 spot for ELAC was freshman Robin Joseph (Francisco Bravo Medical Magnet HS) who was 14.5 seconds behind Torres.
“Working together, we have the potential of making state, especially with young runners like Robin,” said Perez.
Rounding out the scoring for the Huskies were freshman Michael Tapia (L.A. Alliance Patti & Peter Neuwirth Leadership Academy) and sophomore Daniel Lopez (Roosevelt HS) who were 31.5 and 57.2 seconds behind Joseph, respectively.
Also competing for ELAC was freshman Adam Ochoa (South Gate HS).
Missing in action were sophomore Andres Rosas (Alhambra HS), freshmen Jose Lopez (Garfield HS) and Alexis Rodriguez (L.A. Santee Education Complex). Rosas who runs fast enough to be ELAC’s fastest runner, could bolt the Huskies out of the South Coast Conference cellar to a playoff spot.
SCC rivals Mt. San Antonio, Cerritos, El Camino and Long Beach City colleges all placed ahead of ELAC in the Preview. Pasadena City College did not compete. Crosstown rival Los Angeles Trade Tech College also dropped its cross country program this semester.
ELAC competes in the Golden West Central Park Classic on Friday Sept. 25 in Huntington Beach. Competition begins at 9 a.m.
story submitted by Tadzio Garcia