The Ventura College women's cross country team brought home the big prize Friday, capturing first place at the Ventura Invitational at Arroyo Verde Park. Olivia Burton won the event for the second year in a row, pacing five VC finishers in the top eight spots. The Pirate men, meanwhile, running shorthanded for the second week in a row, came in sixth of eight teams in the men's competition.
Burton covered the difficult, hilly 5k course in 21:47, two seconds faster than her first place run of a year ago, to capture the gold once again. Alisann Tolosa, running her first race of the season, came in third in 22:37, followed closely by Brieanna Tafoya in 22:39. Isabelle Egbert (5th, 23:23) and Diana Saldana (8th, 23:32, 7 team points) completed the ultra-low score of 20 team points for VC in the win. Other Pirate finishers included Gisele Ortega (9th, 23:42, 8 points), Michelle Meugniot (16th, 25:42, 12 points), and Alexandra Sanchez (28th, 29:11). Oxnard was second in the team competition with 40 points followed by Allan Hancock College (87 points) and Bakersfield (98). Five other teams competed but did not field full squads for the team competition. A total of 39 runners completed the competition.
"We are excited with where we are at right now," said VC women's head coach Melody Axtell. "We also know that we are working toward the big races in November."
The Pirate men were not so fortunate as they ran without their Nos. 1 and 4 men for the second week in a row. VC finished sixth out of the eight men's squads entered. Nick Villela ran No. 1 for the Pirates, as he did last week, finishing 28th in 26:26 for 23 team points. Michael Sanchez (37th, 27:38, 28 points), Pierson Reynolds (42nd, 28:08, 30 points), Gabriel Olivares (45th, 28:45, 32 points), and Luis Duran (46th, 28:48, 33 points) rounded out the Pirate Top-5.
Both the men's and women's harriers travel to Ted Craig Regional Park in Fullerton Saturday Sept. 7 for the Biola University Cross Country Invitational. The women's 5k starts at 8:00 am and is followed by the men's 8k at 8:45 am.