It’s been a long season for both Glendale College cross country teams, but their seasons ended in success, as the Lady Vaqs took first place at the State Championships in Fresno on Saturday, their second state title in three years. The men placed third.
Both Glendale’s men and women won the Western State Conference title this year as well. The Lady Vaqs also took home first place at the Southern California Championships earlier this month at Mt. SAC, with the men finishing third as well.
A rainy and damp night before the big meet gave Fresno a nice crisp breeze on Saturday that helped keep the blood of GCC runners pumping, and their minds loose.
“We expected them to run like they have been all year, and they did,” said head coach Eddie Lopez.
The overall score for the women’s team was 43, well ahead of Orange Coast College, which finished second with a score of 80.
The top individual runner for the Lady Vaqs was Nina Moore, who came in first place overall with a time of 17:48. Team captain Rosa Del Toro came in sixth in 18:22, and Karen Rosas came in seventh overall, with a time of 18:23 for the 3.1-mile race.
Del Toro was a proud leader afterward. “We all worked really hard this year and it paid off,” said the 19-year-old physiology major, who has been running for more than four years. “I love working hard for what I want.”
She said her favorite part of the season was driving to meets with the girls and singing along to songs on the radio.
“I did everything I could for my team, to keep them together, and we worked hard, all the time,” she said.
“The women were united and determined, they know what they wanted,” said assistant coach
Glendale’s program is full of determined athletes, who run 10 to 12 miles everyday.
“Serious runners like them need to run everyday,” said Lopez. “Some of the runners on the team hope to get full-ride scholarships that are over $40,000 worth for some schools.”
“[The men’s and women’s team] have been real good at practicing on their own as well as at practice,” Lopez continued. “Some schools don’t make it mandatory [to run everyday], but we do.”
The men’s team overall score was 164, behind that of winner San Bernardino and second-place Orange Coast.
Team captain Francisco Quijada came in sixth overall for the men, in a completed time of 20:22. Jonathan Alpizar came in 23rd, finishing with a time of 20:54.
Quijada gives the guys a traditional pep talk before each meet, and this one was no different.
“We talked about how hard we worked this season and that really helped get us motivated,” Quijada said.
“Our season has had some ups and downs, but [we’ve] had a solid season,” Aguirre said.
Running a 5K meet, or any meet for that matter, takes endurance, and when Quijada began to falter on Saturday, he thought of his teammates.
“There was a point during the last mile when I thought, ‘Oh man this hurts,’ but then I thought about my teammates, and I couldn’t just quit on them like that,” he said.
For Glendale, teamwork is inspirational.
“There’s nothing better than working hard for what you want, and we wanted to win,” said Del Toro.