Track and Field Runs With Right Crowd

JASON CASTRO
El Vaquero Staff Writer

The track and field athletes are looking to go the distance when they host an important meet on Friday, March 31 at 2 p.m. This will be the first time in twelve years and the first time in the new track facility that GCC will have home field advantage.

Both the men’s and women’s teams have excelled in several track events this season. In the Cerritos Invitational on Feb. 25, the men and women came up with solid marks.

Julia Camacho won her heat in the invitational 400 meters in a personal best time of 1:02.75. The relay team of Maribel Cespedes, Sandra Martinez, Rosario Castaneda, and Lilly Hernandez finished third in the 4 x 800 relay in 10:26.47 and fourth in the 4,000 meter distance relay in 13:28.92.

For the men, Chris Marshall won his heat in the 200 meters in 23.4. In the 1500 meters, Ray Vasquez finished fourth in the invitational race in 4:07.23; Luis Castaneda was sixth in the same race in 4:08.8 and Preston Richardson was seventh in 4:10.7. In the 3000-meter steeplechase, Joseph Lopez was fourth in 10:08.11.
On Saturday the men and women competed in the cold at the Bakersfield Invitational and came through with solid performances.

For the women, Maribel Cespedes won the invitational 500 meters in a personal best time of 18:56.12 and finished fourth in the 800 meters in 2:29.51. Lilly Hernandez won the 3000 meter steeplechase in 12:38.80 and heat two of the 800 meters in 2:36.04. Kristina Dartyan was second in the pole vault in a personal best of 8 feet.

The men faired well with Michael Esquivel finishing second in the javelin with a toss of 139 feet, four inches. Tomas Aguirre was second in the 800 meters in 2:01.77. Dipak Patel was fourth in the pole vault at 11 feet.

“Every body compliments each other,” said Coach Eddie Lopez.
Coach Lopez is looking to lead his athletes to another Western Southern Conference Title this year. Along with winning the WSC title last year, Coach Lopez received the State Coach of the year in 2005 and the women’s Track and Field Coach of the year.
The men also won the Southern California Championship last year and the women’s team finished third. Overall in the state, the women’s team finished third and the men finished sixth.

“I expect us to put on a good meet,” said Lopez on the upcoming event. “We have a good chance and as long as we give a good effort we will fare well.”

Their accomplishments have not come easy as they practice daily on the field for more than two hours. Their training also consists of running 80 to 85 miles a week, along with long hikes on the hills behind campus to build their endurance.

The records show a slew of noteworthy athletes on the Track and Field teams. Luis and Rosario Castaneda are a dual threat; the brother and sister act often does well for the men’s and women’s teams. Luis was named second team All American and First Team All-WSC last year. He is a solid overall runner in the 1500 meters and the 3000 meters and continues to improve daily. Maria takes after her older brother and competes well in the 800 meters. Both are slated to be team captains next year.

“I’m getting really excited,” said Rosario on the upcoming event. “I’ve had a couple of injuries but I’ve put a lot of effort into getting better. I want to do good because of pride for the school.”

“I’m ready and well prepared,” said Luis. “I want to be the top guy so our family and friends can be proud.”

An example of an all-around athlete is Michael Esquivel. Most football players take the off-season to improve their skills; Esquivel uses this time to contribute to the Track and Field team. He excels in the pole vault having reached a personal best of 14 feet last season, an excellent long jumper with a season best last year of 20 feet, 2 _ inches. He is also one of the top javelin throwers in the state. He has a personal best of 159 feet and five inches in the javelin throw.

“He is a natural athlete,” said Coach Lopez on Esquivel. “Great competitor and a good drive.”

One of the top runners in the state is Ray Vasquez. He has good range and competes well in the 800 meters and the 1500 meters. Vasquez has been a double winner in the 1500 meters with a time of 4:05.8 and in the 3000 meters in 8:58.1.

“I don’t need a reason to run,” said Vasquez. “I just love to do it.”

Team captain Judy De Leon plans to lead the women’s team for the big event.

“I’m very excited, of course,” said De Leon. “I want to show off and do good. We have the home field advantage.”

Glendale hopes to do well in Friday’s meet to further their goal of finishing the season strong.