PALOS VERDES, CA — The East Los Angeles College men’s cross country team received a postseason at-large bid on Saturday and will continue its season at the Southern California Championships this Friday.
Long Beach City College walloped the Huskies by 29 points at the South Coast Conference finals last Friday in Palos Verdes. The Vikings secured the fourth and final automatic SoCal bid from the SCC.
The two teams tied last week at the Mt. SAC Relays, but it was the Vikings No. 3, 4 and 5 positions that outscored ELAC in the SCC finals with faster times.
“ELAC ran incredibly well at the SCC finals on a tough course, but so did the top four teams as well,” said ELAC Head Coach Louis Ramirez. “ELAC qualified for SoCal based on our performance results this season.”
It is the 14th time in the previous 15 years that the Huskies qualified for SoCal.
Mt. San Antonio College took the first five spots, a perfect race (15 points), to win its third consecutive SCC team title.
For the fourth consecutive season, a Husky was named to the SCC All-Men’s Cross Country Team. Sophomore Andrew Perez (Montebello HS) was named to the Second Team.
“Coach and I discussed what I had to do all week to get Top-14, which was stay with the front pack. I trust his choices all the time,” said Perez. “When I was in the last mile of the race he let me know that I was top 14, and that (No.) 15 was right behind me.”
“From then on I knew I just had to keep it. I had no idea he was so close. With the help of my teammates and coaches cheering for me at the end I fought through the pain and pushed myself into making it into the Top 14 All-Conference Men’s Team,” said Perez.
ELAC’s No. 2 runner sophomore Justin Torres (Alhambra HS) edged teammates freshman Robin Joseph (L.A. Bravo Medical Magnet) and sophomore Daniel Lopez (Roosevelt).
Joseph and Lopez sprinted neck-and-neck at the finish line with Joseph winning by one second. Freshman Michael Tapia (Alliance Neuwirth Academy) rounded out the scoring for ELAC.
Non-scorers for the Huskies included freshmen Jose Lopez (Garfield HS) and Adam Ochoa (South Gate HS) who both also qualified to compete in SoCal.
According to Ramirez the strategy of getting to SoCal and moving on to the state finals was and will be running as a pack to push each other but thinking individually to reach our goals.
“I have to make my move quickly…I cannot hesitate not even for a second. I have to just do it. No matter how hard it is I’m going to do it,” said Daniel Lopez.
Lopez has improved drastically over the previous three meets and is one of the reasons the men advanced to SoCal.
Also key for the Huskies are Joseph and Tapia who both run faster on the flat course at SoCal, as well as Jose Lopez and Ochoa.
SoCal is Friday at Tecolote Shores Mission Bay Park with a start time of noon.
story submitted by Tadzio Garcia