The Pirate track teams visited Cal State Northridge Saturday for the annual Northridge Invitational, a meet featuring community college, NCAA Division I and post-collegiate athletes competing side by side. The high water mark for the day for Ventura was shared by Nikolas Ramirez and Sandra Harness as they garnered the only first-place finishes for the Pirates. Ramirez won gold in the javelin with a personal best mark while Harness won her first ever 400m hurdle race.
Ramirez got the day started winning the javelin, and his mark moved him into the top-10 in the event in the Western State Conference this year. Fresh from playing basketball for the Pirates, brothers Darrell Handy-Johnson and Terrell Handy-Johnson both moved into conference contention in their first competitions of the season. Darrell placed second in the triple jump with a mark that ranks ninth all-time as a Pirate and fourth in the WSC in 2018. Meanwhile, Terrell's sixth place finish in the long jump ranks him fifth in the conference standings. Adan Cruz produced a personal record and a No. 5 WSC ranking in the 3,000m as four other VC distance runners set personal bests on the day.
For the women, Harness, running her first career 400 hurdle race, upset teammate Karen Reyes who was previously undefeated in 2018. Running into a negative headwind, Valexsia Droughn placed third in the women's 100 meters and still leads the conference in that event. Krystal Tapia's fourth place in the hammer saw her increase her personal best by over six feet and jumped her from No. 9 to No. 4 in the conference. Marissa Gonzales perhaps had the best overall day for Ventura as she placed fourth and third, respectively, in the 1500m and 3000m distance events, both with lifetime bests. She moved to No. 4 (1500) and No. 5 (3k) in the conference rankings. Her 1500m effort also ranks her No. 9 on the Pirates' all-time list.
"With only three more meets before the championship cycle begins, our team is starting to gel at the right time," commented head coach Tony Veney.
"As long as we can hold our focus and keep our energy levels high, we could have a very exciting finish to the season."
The Pirates next visit San Luis Obispo on Friday March 30 when they contest the second of two WSC scoring meets with Cuesta, Moorpark, West Los Angeles, Allan Hancock, and Santa Barbara. The field events begin at 12:00 noon while the first running event is scheduled for 1:00 pm.