The Ventura College men's and women's cross country teams both qualified for the Southern California Regionals Friday with strong showings at the Western State Conference championships in San Dimas. The Pirate women came in a strong third place among the 15 competing teams while the men had their best race of the year coming in fifth of 14 teams. Olivia Burton led the women with a second place finish while Adan Cruz came in sixth for the VC men.
After placing eighth at the conference preview, the Pirate men were on the proverbial "bubble" in their quest to qualify as a team for regionals. Cruz lead the way for the Pirates placing an All-WSC sixth place with a time of 21:26 on the rugged 4-mile course at Bonelli Park. Johnny Ordaz (23:14, 29 team points) had his best race of the season placing 31st, jumping 23 spots from his 54th place finish in the preview. Mauricio Flores (41st, 23:44, 37 points), Everado Magana (47th, 24:01, 42 points), Jake Turville (49th, 24:10, 44 points), Luis Duran (57th, 24:33, 50 points), and Luis Barriga (63rd, 24:54, 55 points) rounded out the rest of the squad in the 93-runner field. VC totaled 158 points, behind Glendale (35), Oxnard (88), Cuesta (103) and Victor Valley (155), and just ahead of Moorpark (160).
"This is the kind of effort I have been harping on all year with this group of young men," commented men's coach, Tony Veney. "We had guys run great, not so great, and just enough all with seven runners, but in the final analysis, they refused to allow themselves to get pushed out of their chance to advance to the state meet."
The Pirate women continued to shine behind the efforts of their super-freshman Burton. The Foothill Tech product covered the 5k course in 18:13 to finish second. Tatiana Garcia (19:50) came in ninth and Brieanna Tafoya (20:03) finished 10th. Other Pirate runners included Cecilia Cano (25th, 21:27, 23 points), Isabelle Egbert (27th, 21:29, 24 points), Diana Saldana (32nd, 22:15, 28 points), Maria Elizarraraz (40th, 23:35, 35 points) and Alejandra Contreras (43rd, 23:49). 81 runners competed in the race.
VC totaled 68 points to finish behind Glendale (40) and Moorpark (51) and ahead of Bakersfield (127) and Canyons (131).
"The women ran consistent and strong," said women's coach Melody Axtell. "I am proud of their efforts."
The teams gets an extra week to train for the SoCal Championships while waiting for the remaining Southern California conferences to run their championship meets on October 26. The regional finals will be run on Saturday Nov. 3 at Don Knabe Regional Park in Cerritos. The SoCal women's 5k will start the day at 10:00 am followed by the men's 4-mile race at 11:00 am. The top 14 teams will advance to the CCCAA State Championships on Saturday Nov. 17 at Woodward Park in Fresno.