The Ventura College women's cross country team qualified for the CCCAA State Championships with a seventh place finish Friday morning at the SoCal Regionals in Cerritos. The Pirate men, meanwhile, had a disappointing finish after an injury forced a top runner out of the race. Olivia Burton paced the VC women with a third place finish and Adan Cruz qualified for state individually for the men in 31st place overall.
The women's race was one of the best races in years as all seven Pirates posted personal bests but the team dropped four places from the SoCal Previwe on the same course in September. Burton paced the group, placing third of the 177 runners, completing the 5k course in 17:44. Brieanna Tafoya and Tatiana Garcia came in 11th and 13th, respectively, finishing a second apart at 18:24 and 18:25. other VC runners included Isabelle Egbert (66th, 20:24, 62 team points), Cecilia Cano (85th, 20:51, 80 points), Diana Saldana (90th, 21:03, 84 points) and Maria Elizarraraz (93rd, 21:11, 87 points).
Los Angeles harbor ran away with the team competition with 53 points followed by Mt. San Antonio (110), Glendale (122), Saddleback (133), Moorpark (141), Riverside (166) and Ventura (169).
"I couldn't have asked for a better race today," said women's head coach Melody Axtell. "All the women did their best and progressed from the last time they raced here.
"Competition is really deep this year and anything can happen in two weeks at state. The women are excited to go all out at state."
The Pirate men's team saw their season end, literally with a crash. Needing a top-14 finish as a team to qualify for state, the Pirates' No. 3 man Johnny Ordaz was forced from the race with an injury following a collision on the course. After Ordaz's departure, the team's advancement hopes were done. Ventura finished 24th overall out of 28 teams.
On a brighter note, Adan Cruz finished 31st overall out of 192 finishers, and qualified for the state meet as the fifth-fastest runner not on a state meet-qualifying team.
"Cruz's time of 20:20 would have been good enough for seventh at the preview in September, which shows how deep the Southern region is," commented head men's coach Tony Veney.
Everado Magana (99th, 21:38), Mauricio Flores (139th, 22:29, 137 team points) Luis Barriga (142nd, 22:35, 140 points), Jake Turville (151st, 22:46) and Luis Duran (171st, 23:43, 168 points) rounded out the Pirates scorers.
"This was an amazing meet," said Veney, "evidenced by every man running a personal best on the course, and shaving almost five minutes from the September team time."
Cruz and the Pirate women will get two weeks to train before the CCCAA State Championships on Saturday Nov. 17. The races will be held at Woodward Park in Fresno with the women's 5k scheduled for 10:00 am and the men's 4 miles to follow at 11:00 am.