Ventura College's men's and women's cross country teams opened the Pirates' 2019-20 athletic year Friday at the Oxnard Invitational. Running on a flat course that was hardened by high morning winds, the women got off to a solid start finishing second in the team competition while the Ventura men came in fifth. Olivia Burton and Brieanna Tafoya led the women, each placing in the top-10 while Nick Villela paced the VC men.
The Ventura women totaled 59 points placed second as a team behind Glendale with 24. Oxnard was third with 97 followed by Moorpark (112), Canyons (116), Allan Hancock (218) and Bakersfield (266). A total of 10 teams participated in the race with seven fielding full scoring teams.
Burton claimed fifth place overall covering the 5k course in 20:00 while Tafoya was a close sixth, just a second behind. Isabelle Egbert placed 12th in 20:52, earning 11 team points. Other Pirate finishers included Michelle Meugniot (17th, 21:48, 15 points), Gisele Ortega (24th, 22:44, 22 points), Alexandra Sanchez (36th, 25:02, 32 points), and Michelle Hamm (40th, 25.50, 35 points).
"The women ran well," commented head coach Melody Axtell. "We were without half the team today, so the prospects for the squad down the road look promising."
The men had a rockier start as they finished fifth place out of six full teams with an additional two squads not completing a full team. Glendale was a decisive winner scoring an impressive 20 points followed by Bakersfield (65 points), Canyons (67), Moorpark (103), Ventura (135) and Citrus (171).
Freshman Villela finished in the top spot for the Pirates finishing 30th overall scoring 23 points, while running the 4-mile course in 24:25. Pierson Reynolds (35th, 24:46, 25 points), Luis Duran (40th, 25:09, 27 points), Michael Sanchez (45th, 25:38, 29 points), and Gabriel Olivares (48th, 26:46, 31 points) rounded out the Pirate finishers.
"We were a little short handed today like the women," said head coach Tony Veney. "But it's early and we have a solid two months ahead of us to right the ship and focus our attention on the October 25th WSC Championships."
The Pirate cross country teams are back in action Friday August 30 when they host the 25th Annual Ventura College Cross Country Invitational at Arroyo Verde Park. The women's 5k is scheduled for 3:00 pm while the men's 4-mile will follow at 3:45 pm.