Lady Vaqueros Cross Country Dominate Fresno Invitational

Eric Bourse, staff reporter

On Saturday, the Lady Vaqueros dominated the competition to win first place at the Fresno Invitational while the men’s team took second place.

Six Lady Vaqs filled the top 10 in the 3.1 mile race in Woodward Park. Karen Rosas finished first overall with a time of 18:33. Alyssa Seleve came in second in 18:43. Angela Martinez finished fourth in 19:01.

Laura Pluemer came in seventh with a time of 19:18. Nohemi Martinez finished eighth in 19:23 and Grace Graham-Zamudio came in ninth place with a time of 21:56.

The men’s team finished in second place overall with 61 points. American River College came in first with 28 points.

The top runner for the Vaqueros was Mizrael Mendez, who finished in sixth place, in 21:17. Jesus Gutierrez came in eighth place with a time of 21:31 and Alec Nelson came in 13th place in 21:42.

On Sept. 3, the Vaqueros competed in its season opener at the Fullerton Invitational in Carbon Canyon Regional Park.

Competitors included schools from all divisions including four-year colleges and other community colleges.

The Lady Vaqueros came in third place overall with 73 points. Long Beach State finished with 61 points for second place and Loyola Marymount finished first with 39 points.

The top runner for the Lady Vaqs was Rosas, who came in second place overall with a time of 22:08. Selve came in seventh with a time of 22:44. Martinez came in 15th overall with a time of 23:17.

“The women ran excellent,” said head coach Eddie Lopez. Despite the Lady Vaq’s success, its coach still sees room for improvement. “The time differential between our first and last runner wasn’t good. We should have a gap of under a minute.”

“I’m proud of the girls,” said Rosas, 20, sociology major. “We worked hard over the summer. Some are just freshmen and have a good chance at state competition.”

This race was not only a team victory, but personal redemption as well. “I did this race last year and it didn’t go well, but this year I paced myself and followed Alyssa,” said Rosas. “The uneven grass hurt my calf but I had to keep going. When I thought about the pain I was getting passed in the race so I stopped thinking about it.”

Four out of the top seven runners included present and former Lady Vaqs. Rosa Del Toro finished first for Long Beach State with a time of 22:03. Nina Moore finished fourth at a time of 22:25 also for Long Beach State.

“This doesn’t come as a surprise. Our runners who move on continue to run well,”

said Lopez.

Del Toro was the State Champion for the 1500 meter race in spring. Moore won the 2009 state championships.

The men’s team came in sixth place overall with 136 points. Long Beach State came in first with a score of 25.

Mendez was the top runner for men’s team who came in 13th with a time of 25:58. Gutierrez came in 23rd in 26:21. Nelson finished 33rd with a time of 26:40.

“We ran well today. We have a young team who showed a lot of effort going against tough competition from older and more experienced teams,” said Lopez.

“I thought we had a good performance and the team bonded. We didn’t really know the course but we held on and didn’t give up,” said Mendez, 18.

With last season’s success, the expectations for both teams are high. “Our first goal is to win our conference, then Southern California, then state,” said assistant coach Bryan Ramos. “We want to repeat as conference champions and be in the top three in the state.”

The next meet will be the Orange Coast Classic on Saturday at Fairview Park in Costa Mesa at 10 a.m. On Sept. 23 the Vaqueros will run the Golden West Invitational at Central Park in Huntington Beach at 10 a.m.