By Edward Mahurien / Managing Editor
The flat course of Heartwell Park allowed for some fast times at the men’s Cross Country’s South Coast Conference Championships on Friday, Nov. 1. The Vikes said they knew every rock and blade of grass, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the speed of the course. As a team the Vikings finished seventh out of seven with the leading runner for the Vikes Elias Galvan, coming in at a time of 23:49, good enough for 61st in the 4-mile run.
“It just felt right, we practice so much on it we know how to run it, but it was a really fast race,” Galvan said. The race started with the majority of the runners closely bunched together. By the second mile, the speed was too much for the majority of the field. Things were different at the top, however. A mere three seconds separated first and third with Elvis Salinas of Cerritos narrowly edging Michael Nakahara of El Camino and Gabriel Ruano of Mt. San Antonio in a near photo finish. The next two Vikings to cross the line were Ronnie Fierro placing 67th with a time of 24:19 and Andrew Harris 68th with a time of 24:22. “I ran my heart out today and my family was here, so I gave it my best,” Fierro said.
Fierro, a freshman, was surprised how tough the competition was at Community College compared to his experiences in high school. “Next year, I’m going to train even harder, stay at practice longer and I’m going to go to state for sure, I promised myself that,” Fierro said.
While it was a season of firsts for Fierro, for Harris this was his final four miles he would competitively run. The sophomore plans to join the US Navy. “I had a season plagued with injuries, this is my last season so I did what I could do,” Harris said. Joel Peralta came in at 25 minutes flat, good enough for 75th and the final two runners, Edgard Chacon and Anthony Chavez, placed 80th and 82nd with times of 25:50 and 26:33.
The program has seen three coaches in as many years and new coach Julio Jimenez inherited a team on the verge of collapse. “I’m happy with these guys from where they came from the first meet to now. We started with three guys and we finished with seven,” Jimenez said. Hosting the event, Jimenez’ role was more of an administrative nature than coaching, but he knew the team was well prepared. “They probably hate this park because we practiced on it four of the five days,” the coach joked. At least one runner agreed. “I hate this park,” Harris said.