The Glendale College track and field team made school history in the California State Championship at Antelope Valley College on May 21 and 22 as nine athletes earned All-American honors and sophomore Rosa Del Toro won a State Championship for the 1,500 meters.
Mother Nature evidently did not want anyone breaking records that day. She had set her own hurdles with 22 mph winds, native to the hills of Antelope Valley, which relentlessly blew in the runners’ faces the whole day.
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Although the men’s team was unable to find its stride, finishing 38th out of 45 schools with a score of only 5 points, the women’s team was highly successful in scoring a school record 58 points to place 5th overall out of 41 schools.
Sophomore Jonathan Alpizar, despite being the only highlight from the men’s team that day, was the prime personification of Glendale’s resiliency. During warm-ups, Alpizar was inadvertently hit on the head by another athlete, knocked unconscious and suffered a mild concussion. While other athletes would sit out the event to risk further injury, Alpizar insisted he compete in the 3,000-meter steeplechase. The All-American finished 5th with a time of 9:48.93, head confusion and all.
“It was amazing,” head coach Eddie Lopez said. “I had asked him before the race if he was okay, if he wanted to sit out. He just shook it off and pulled through.”
Glendale’s own sophomore sprinting sensation, Samantha Bogatz, would typically be a shoo-in to place first in at least one event. It turned out that the statewide competition offered more women with better shoes – or at least, faster feet. Bogatz prevailed against harsh conditions in the 100 meters and clocked one of her best times of the season with 11.88, and finished the race in 4th place, earning her All-American honors.
Lauryn Newson and Shanae Roach, two sophomores from Laney College, placed 1st and 2nd with times of 11.60 and 11.65. Portia Bell from Antelope Valley College placed 3rd with a time of 11.74. It was evident that Bogatz wasn’t racing against just the Western State Conference or Southern California anymore. The State as a whole offered a lot better competition, and as talented as Bogatz was, she had her work cut out for her that day.
She didn’t run as well as usual during the 200 meters, as she finished 5th by clocking one her lowest times of the season with 24.72. She was again topped by the likes of Laney, Cerritos and Antelope Valley College.
The Vaqueros stayed resilient and showed that although the other schools may have faster sprinters, Glendale would still best them through endurance. Freshman Karen Rosas finished 2nd in the 10,000-meters with a time of 39:52.98, with her teammate Vivian Ochoa at 4th with a time of 40:10.14.
The pressures of being a State Champion didn’t affect sophomore Rosa Del Toro, as she stayed ahead of the pack the entire duration of the 1,500-meters. She finished 1st with a season-best time of 4:43.88 and freshman Nina Moore finished 8th with a time of 5:09.83.
Three Lady Vaqueros would place in the top five for the 5,000-meters. Karen Rosas again finished 2nd with a time of 18:14.22, with Del Toro right behind her at 3rd with a time of 18:28.24. Moore placed 5th with a time of 18:50.79.
“It was tiring of course,” said Nina Moore of her long-distance running. “But I didn’t let that get to me. This is the State Championships and you’ve really got to bring all you’ve got because you never know when you’ll be back here.”
Francisco Quijada could not find the same success in the men’s 5,000-meters. Quijada failed to secure the inside lane despite running in 2nd place the majority of the race. He was unable to recover, and finished in 12th place with a time of 16:31.64.
Sophomore runner Angelina Gonzalez found herself in a similar situation for the 3,000-meter steeplechase. Although running well in 2nd place in the beginning of the race, Gonzalez got lost in the crowd and ended up finishing in 6th place with a time of 12:19.78.