Adan Cruz and Kimora Pooler punched their tickets to the state championships with top 3 finishes at the Southern California Regionals hosted by Riverside City College Saturday. Pooler claimed second place in the shot put finals to earn her way to state while Cruz claimed the bronze in the 10,000m run. Brieanna Tafoya moved past her preliminary round in the 800 meters on Saturday, as well, and a host of other Pirates are scheduled to compete in Regional Championships on Saturday May 11 back in Riverside.
Pooler, ranked No. 2 in the shot put in Southern California coming into the competition, used her final throw to jump from the bronze to the silver, throwing the shot 39-feet-1/2-inch.
Cruz, meanwhile, came into his 10k race as the No. 7-ranked runner in SoCal and faced elimination without a state-automatic qualifying time under his belt. When the top two runners in the field made a breakaway move halfway through the race Cruz went with them, and the gamble paid off. He finished third overall and ran the distance in 32:15, a full 20 seconds under the auto-standard 32 minutes and 15 seconds (a full 20 seconds under the auto-qualifying standard.
Brieanna Tafoya qualified for next week's finals winning her section of the 800 meters.
As well as the Pirates competed, there was also some heartache along the way. Reuben Jacob hit a big personal record of 46-feet-3 1/2-inches in the finals of the shot put only to see his bid for all-region vanish when he was moved out of the top-8 by a competitor on the final throw.
The men's 4x400 meter relay team of Alan Nichols, Isaiah Batis, Jason Mesa and Darren Houston finished the preliminaries with the ninth-fastest time, but only eight relays advanced to hte finals. The quartet missed advancing by 0.8 seconds.
"Cruz and Pooler were really sharp today," commented head coach Tony Veney. "But there's still a good deal of work left to do (at the regional finals)."
At next week's Southern California Regional Finals, Tafoya (800m), Darius Johnson (discus), Cynthia Tuzak (discus), Jacob Guzman (discus), Tatiana Garcia (5k), Leslie Valoaga (discus), Pooler (discus), and Olivia Burton (5k) all will compete. Field events begin at 9:00 am and the first running event hits the track at 12:00 pm.