The Whittier College Cross Country teams put up impressive performances during their SCIAC Championships on Oct. 29 at Prado Regional Park in Chino Hills, CA. With his 1st place finish, sophomore Julian Sandoval broke a 17-year-old course record and also earned SCIAC Runner-of-the-Year. Junior Julissa Tobias finished second overall in a field of more than 135 other racers and earned 1st team all-conference honors.
The Whittier College Women’s Cross Country team finished 5th in SCIAC, matching their finish from last year. However, the Poets decreased their score by a total of 13 points in comparison to last year’s same place finish.
“It’s a tough course because the majority of it is rolling hills with a few meters of mud, pavement, and dirt,” said Tobias. “It’s good to know that we are able to maintain and improve together because in scoring, every single person counts.”
Another top ten finish came from junior Jessica Iribe who finished 7th overall and earned 1st team all-conference. Junior Justice Navarro, sophomores Anahy Covarrubias, Esmeralda Martinez, Jessica McCollum, and first-year Melissa Tobias’ individual pack finishes helped the Poets clench their overall team ranking.
The Whittier College Men’s Cross Country team earned a close 3rd place finish, with a total of 52 points, just behind Pomona-Pitzer, who finished 2nd with 51 points, and Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (CMS), who took 1st with 47 points.
“My performance at SCIAC Championships reflects how much I’ve grown as a runner since my 23rd place finish at the 2015 SCIAC Championships,” said Sandoval. “At the start of the season, it didn’t seem like we would be where we are now. I didn’t see myself as SCIAC Champion at the start of the season.”
Seniors Ruben Solorza and Osvaldo Cerda also finished in the top ten, placing 7th and 8th respectively, with fellow senior Kevin Huey earning a 15th place finish. First-year William Howells placed 21st overall, while senior Gabriel Calove and junior KamRon Perry finished in key pack positions, helping to push the team into a top-three finish.
“In Cross Country, you’re only as good as your 5th man, so the step-up from freshman Billy Howells made a huge impact since we were able to condense the gap between our top five guys,” said Sandoval. “We also had senior Waldo Cerda, who was recuperating from injury all season long, back in action for the second half of the season, so that also made a huge impact.” Sandoval went on to praise his entire team for their work ethic and dedication to the team. “[They] are family to me. We believe in the training. We believe in each other and we believe that we have an opportunity to make it to Nationals as a team.”
Members of both the Men and Women’s Cross Country teams will make their way to Bush Park in Salem, OR to compete in the NCAA West Regional this weekend, Nov. 12. Their dominant performances at the SCIAC Championships allowed them to qualify for this competitive race.
“At this point in the season, there’s not much you can do to improve a whole lot on,” said Sandoval. “It’s about preparing mentally for the Regional Meet. We’ve worked so hard to get to where we are now, and now we just have to run our best race and leave nothing to chance. In the end, you have to remember to relax and have fun.”