MISSION BAY, CA — The East Los Angeles College men’s cross country team qualified its No. 1 runner, sophomore Andrew Perez, to the CCCAA state finals from the SoCal finals today.
The team ended its season with a six-year consecutive run to the SoCal Championships with a four-mile top 25 finish. The Huskies finished 24th. Mt. San Antonio College won the men’s team title followed by Riverside City and San Bernardino Colleges.
Perez (Alhambra High School) will compete in his first CCCAA championship meet at Woodward Park in Fresno on Saturday Nov. 21 with an 11 a.m. start time.
“I honestly didn't think I was going to get this fast and be the top runner for a college,” said Perez.
Perez, a three-time SoCal finalist, twice in cross country and once in track and field, easily qualified for state finishing with a SoCal run of 22:27.5 minutes, a time he says he can beat in two weeks.
“I worked hard all summer with the help of my teammates and coaches pushing me to get back in shape,” said Perez. “It was worth it because now I'm on my way to state to represent my school. My goal is to get a personal record, which currently is 21:36.0. I will be training as hard as I can to try to reach that goal.”
Perez runs well on big stages. The entire team ran personal records at the Foothill Invitational on a flat fast course in San Bernardino on Oct. 2. Perez almost eclipsed his personal record at the Mt. SAC Invitational (Oct. 16), the world’s largest cross country meet, according to the Mt. SAC website.
Freshman Robin Joseph (L.A. Bravo Medical Magnet) ended his first season with the team as the No. 2 runner for the Huskies.
“I improved by using each of my teammates as goal markers,” said Joseph. “In every race, my goal was to catch my teammate that was ahead of me, so my improvement was a result of my team and some hard work.”
The team ran in packs mostly for the first three miles during the season to push each other, but it was up to them individually to succeed as a team according to Joseph.
“I think the team learned that our mentality going into the races has a big effect on our performances and that we always have room for improvement,” said Joseph.
Sophomore Justin Torres (Alhambra HS), who ran on the heels of Perez all season, ends his two-year ELAC cross country career on a positive note. He ran a blistering fourth mile at SoCal to surpass almost 20 men, including sprinting faster than six other men at the finish line.
Freshmen Michael Tapia (Alliance Neuvirth Academy) and Daniel Lopez (Roosevelt HS), the season’s No. 4 and No. 5 runners for ELAC, rounded out the scoring for the Huskies.
Tapia scored for ELAC in every race this season as did Lopez. Tapia improved almost a minute-and-a-half off his time this year.
Lopez ends his ELAC cross country career as the most improved in two years improving over two minutes this season and last year as well.
“This season was so amazing. It felt so comfortable and I was ready for all the training we put in,” said Lopez. “I finally made my move. It was intense, but now I know anything is possible when you put your mind to it.”
Jose Lopez (Garfield HS) ran a personal record at the Mt. SAC Invitational. “It was a difficult hilly course, but I (paced) and pushed all the way, from the beginning to the finish line,” said Jose Lopez.
Freshmen Adam Ochoa (South Gate HS) finished his last race in his first season (SoCal) with a personal record.
“We've learned collectively that we can depend on each other to push our limits and that each one of us is capable of doing more than we believed,” said Ochoa. “I had a great experience.”
This is the formula for cross country runners, to build during the season and finish with your best results.
story submitted by Tadzio Garcia