While competing in the Western State Conference championships, the members of the Glendale Community College men’s and women’s track and field teams had something more to fend off besides their opponents Friday.
With a howling and frigid wind blowing throughout the majority of the meet at Antelope Valley College in Lancaster, many of the Vaqueros were able to successfully conquer the opposition and the conditions.
It turned out to be a big day in particular for Glendale women’s distance runner Lizzy Nelson, who won a pair of events and helped the Vaqueros win the overall team competition.
Nelson captured the 1,500-meter race in 4 minutes 53.07 seconds and the 5K in 19:36.03 for the Vaqueros, who took first with 168 points.
“The wind was just real bad,” said Nelson, who won the 10K conference crown on April 18 at College of the Canyons with a mark of 39:55.03. “It was blowing so strongly at all of the runners and it turned out to be the hardest part.
“Nobody wanted to take the lead in either of the races. I had to make my move where it wasn’t too windy and then make the kick in the last 300 meters.”
Nelson was among a contingent of Vaqueros to advance to the Southern California prelims, which will be held May 2-3 at Riverside College. The Southern California Championships will take place May 9-10 at Riverside and the state meet will occur May 16-17 at Mount San Antonio College in Walnut.
Glendale’s men’s team took third with 131 1/2 points, behind Canyons (145) and West L.A. (139). Glendale’s Jorge Mendoza won the steeplechase in 10:24.43. Mendoza was the lone Vaquero to win an event in the men’s meet.
On the women’s side, the Vaqueros also got first-place finishes from Lizette Gonzalez in the 800 (4:57.21) and Justice Shank in the high jump at 1.71 meters.
Like Nelson, Gonzalez said the prevailing winds proved to be frustrating.
“You had to be able to overcome it,” said Gonzalez, who placed second in the 1,500 in 4:57.21. “I was able to make my move in the last 300. I was able to get a lead before going up against the wind toward the finish line.”
Also advancing to the Southern California prelims from the Glendale women’s team were Kelly Castillo (third, 12:30.32) and Teresa Villafuerte (fifth, 12:40.21) in the steeplechase, Glindyll Mancia (third, 2:23.65) in the 800, Alejandra Quintero (second, 19:54.75) and Caitlyn Selve (19:59.39) in the 5K, Ana Tonga (fifth, 10.92 meters) and Asiash Tuiasosopo (sixth, 10.75) in the shot put and Tuiasosopo (37.73 meters) in the hammer.
In addition, the Vaqueros’ 4x400 relay team of Gonzalez, Mancia, Shank and Nelson took third in 4:10.58.
Mendoza, recovering from a calf injury, recovered from an early spill in the first water jump and regrouped in time to capture the steeplechase event.
“It’s a tough race and you had to battle the wind,” Mendoza said. “After I fell, I limped for about the next 100 meters.
“I followed the leaders and then was able to catch up and pass them. I didn’t want them to get away from me. It’s awesome and such a blessing to have won it.”
Also qualifying for the prelims for the Vaqueros were Daniel Marin (fourth, 10:28.47) in the steeplechase, Eddie Lopez (second, 4:07.69) in the 1,500, Rick Goulsby (fifth, 11.32) in the 100, Alejandro Chavez (fifth, 1:58.28) in the 800, Clarence Landler (fifth, 57.12) in the 400 hurdles, Enrique Ramirez (second, 16:37.03) in the 5K, Quaid Vuncannon (fifth, 35.84 meters) and Christopher Uribe (sixth, 33.95 meters) in the hammer and Christopher Uribe (third, 12.37 meters) and Vuncannon (fourth, 12.19 meters) in the shot put.
Glendale’s 4x100 relay team of Goulsby, Marcus Streeter, Jonathan Smith and Vuncannon finished second in 42.80. The 4x400 relay quartet of Streeter, Bryant Flores, Jonathan Smith and Raymond Ou finished seventh in 3:26.46 to qualify.
Follow Charles Rich on Twitter: @TCNCharlesRich .