The VC men's and women's track and field teams began and ended the Western State Conference preliminaries with individual conference titles. Kimora Pooler, Cynthia Tuzak and Adan Cruz all claimed individual golds in limited event finals Friday in Santa Barbara while sever other Pirates qualified for the WSC finals to be held Friday April 26 at Moorpark. With limited scoring opportunities, the Pirate women were in second place with 26 points while the VC men were in seventh with 19 points, just six points from second place.
Pooler came from behind in the finals of the women's shot and was awarded the first gold medal of the afternoon. Her winning throw of 39-feet 1-inch was well below her conference-leading mark of 41 feet, but she kept it together when she trailed by 6 inches in the early rounds.
Cruz ended the day's competition with his victory in the men's 10k. Following a brutally slow pace from which no one wanted to lead the race against the stiff ocean winds, Cruz attacked four laps from the finish a with withering last mile to collect his first WSC title. His aggressive move almost backfired when the pack gave chase on the last lap, but his closest pursuer came up a scant 0.18 seconds short.
Sandwiched between the Pooler and Cruz gold medals was Tuzak's discus throw win. The victory gave her wins in eight of nine competitions this season and seven golds in a row.
Leslie Valoaga placed a regional-qualifying fourth in both the shot put and discus while Pooler was sixth in the discus and Tuzak was sixth in the shot put, respectively.
All three winners along with the top seven finishers in each final event will qualify for the Southern California Regional Championships May 4 and 11 at Riverside City College.
The Pirate women also had a number of athletes who qualified for the conference finals on April 26. They include Olivia Burton and Diana Saldana in both the 1500 meters and the 5k runs, Brieanna Tafoya in the 800 meters, Tatiana Garcia in the 5k, Valoaga in the hammer throw and javelin, and Pooler in the javelin. Additionally,the women's 4x400m relay team will run in the conference championships at Moorpark.
On the men's side, Reuben Jacob qualified for regionals finishing fourth in the shot put and Jacob Guzman was seventh in the discus. Pirate Men advancing to the WSC finals included Alan Nichols and Isaiah Batis in the 400m, Darius Johnson in the javelin, and Everardo Garcia and Jesus Castro in the 5k. The men's 4x100m and 4x400m relay teams also qualified for the WSC Championships.
"I could not have been prouder of our winners today," commented head coach Tony Veney. "All three responded well to competitive pressure rising to the challenge."
"We expect another dozen young people to move on to regionals next week, and things get a little more heated since it's advance or vacation every week now until the state meet May 17-18 at City College of San Mateo."
The WSC Championships hosted by Moorpark College begin on Friday April 26 with field events at 12:00 pm and the first track event starting at 12:15 pm.