Women’s, Men’s Track Rank 2nd, 6th in Finals

Brandon Hensley

Track and field teams can be difficult to gauge, at least as far as temperature goes, and maybe that’s why it was hard to make out exactly how Glendale College was feeling after its Western Conference Finals meet Friday at Moorpark College.

On one hand, the women’s team, which won conference last season, finished second this time to rival West Los Angeles College. The men finished sixth overall, no one placed first for any event, and Jonathan Alpizar failed to qualify for the Southern California Prelims in the 5,000 meters.

Slideshow Media Credit: Richard Kontas

On the other hand, Samantha Bogatz turned in some vintage performances, while both Vaquero teams qualified in many events. Besides, a program like Glendale’s is always thinking about the bigger picture, even if its mood is a little tempered at the moment.
“Last year, we beat them, this year, they got us at the end,” head coach Eddie Lopez said of the women’s defeat to West L.A. “It was good competition. [I’m] a little disappointed, but we gave out best effort. We went down swinging.”

Forget swinging, the Vaqs started the day off falling. In the 3,000-meter steeplechase, Angelina Gonzalez hit her right shin while trying to clear the water hurdle on the second lap. Soaking wet, she got up and won the race in 11 minutes, 44.21 seconds, even if she was embarrassed by what happened.

Gonzalez, who has fallen two other times this season in the steeplechase, said she was worried about doing it again, and, “Sure enough I did, but thankfully I still [won]. Gonzalez continued, “What’s the worst that can happen after you fall? I
mean, any pain after that just isn’t that bad.”

Catlin Kelly finished third for Glendale in 11:54.15, and she also fell while trying to clear a hurdle. Her right leg was injured and she ended up not competing in the 5,000 meters, which she was scheduled to do.

Then there was Bogatz, the lightning quick sophomore who had slumped a little earlier this year. However, she was back in top form Friday, winning the 100-meter dash in 11.77 (which tied the school record she set last year), and producing her season-best mark in the 200 in 24.38, which she also won.

Bogatz was also part of the first-place 4×100 relay team, which included Shannon Azizi, Carissa Porter and Daniela Palmer (47.87). Porter, Bogatz, Melissa Sanchez and Laura Pleumer placed third in the 4×400 relay (4:04.54).

Bogatz, as she often does, made it look easy, walking from the team tent, joking with others before going onto the field to warm up for her 200 meter race. Several minutes later, she busted out of the block, well ahead of the pack. Just another day, right?

“It’s not easy. I respect them,” Bogatz said of her competition. “They beat me out the blocks, you know, they push me. If it had been anybody else, maybe I go a little bit easier in these events, but running with these girls there’s a lot of respect. I know that they’re going to be there, and the one time I slip up, somebody’s going to be there, so I always have to stay on point.”

In other races for the Glendale women, Rosa Del Toro won the 1,500 meters in a Secretariat-like 4:36.35 (more than eight seconds better than Canyons’ Corey Honeycutt), and Karen Rosas (4:47.48) and Nina Moore (4:53.81) finished that race in third and fifth place. The top six finishers in all events qualified for the SoCal prelims coming up Saturday at Saddleback College.

Diana Sanchez (2:21.42) and Pleumer (2:21.51) placed third and fourth in the 800 meters. In the 5,000 meter event Del Toro, Moore, Rosas, Briana Jauregui and Vivian Ochoa took places second through sixth.
In the women’s high jump, Porter placed fifth with a mark of 4 feet, 11 inches, and Azizi was second in the javelin throw (111-9) Azizi also tied for sixth with West L.A.’s Brittney McKinley (8-7) in the pole vault.

For the men, competing for a conference title will have to wait. “We need more work. We’re about a couple years away from that,” said Lopez. And a hole is about to emerge soon with the departures of sophomores Frankie Quijada and Jonathan Alpizar
Alpizar took second in the steeplechase in 9:30.97, just losing out to Charlie Petri of Moorpark (9:30.91). Quijada was third in 9:50.79. In the 5,000, Quijada was fifth (15:33.54), while Aplizar was not in the top six.

“Well, that’s a tough double,” Lopez said of Alpizar, who also ran 10,000 meters the previous week in Ventura.. “Now he can concentrate on the steeplechase, and he’s one of the favorites. Frankie’s going to do well too, so we have two weeks to really rest a little bit. Next week is just prelims, that’s all they’re doing, and then in two weeks it’s the Southern Cal finals, and then State.”

Quijada has enjoyed running with his partner at Glendale, and said “there’s definitely a bond there.”

“You’re sad, but you’re also happy because they’re moving on to the next level,” Lopez said. “It’s going to be hard to replace them. That’s the hardest part, to replace their leadership and their work ethic.”

Also qualifying for the Vaqs was Ricky Avila in the 1,500 (fifth place, 4:05.35), Christopher Farmer in the 110 hurdles (third, 15.62), high jump (fifth, 6-3), and the 400 (sixth, 56.71). Neil Jones was fourth in the 800 (1:56.19) while Miguel Flores was fifth (1:59.59), and Spencer Woolwine was sixth in the javelin throw (161-8).

So, despite a mixed bag, the Vaqs are excited and confident for the weeks ahead, starting at Saddleback College for the prelims.

At least that’s what Bogatz is thinking: “Conference is cool, but my mind’s been on State.”