Youth movement on for Vaqueros

He wanted overachievers, and found the perfect group.

Glendale Community College women's cross-country Coach Eddie Lopez

had to sound like a professional salesman for that to happen.

Lopez sold the program's potential to nine freshmen.

It took some time for Lopez to get the people he wanted, but now

he's got an up-and-coming squad that will look to improve on last

season's third-place finish in the Western State Conference.

"When I recruit, I want overachievers who buy into our program,"

said Lopez, who received recruiting evaluations from assistant coach

David Rodriguez. "I didn't have a complete team last year, and I had

to go out there and do one of my better recruiting jobs.

"It's not that hard to recruit because I know that I want a team

that can be put together along with adding local flavor."

The Vaqueros -- ninth in Southern California and 17th in state

last season -- will bring back all-conference runner Maribel

Cespedes. Cespedes, the team's captain, will be one of three

sophomores to find herself surrounded by what Lopez figures to be a

talented bunch of freshmen.

Among those will include Hoover High graduate Liliana Hernandez

and Glendale High graduate Ana Rodriguez. Hernandez will look to take

her career to the next level after learning from Hoover Coach Bridget

Pearson.

"Bridget taught me that working hard will pay off if you want to

be successful," Hernandez said.

"I love running and thought about going to Pasadena City College,

but Coach Lopez sold me on the program."

How the freshmen perform in the early stages of the season will be

key. The Vaqueros, who captured conference championships in 2002 and

2003 before finishing behind Bakersfield and Ventura colleges last

season, will look to keep pace in several invitational meets.

Glendale College will open its season competing in the Southern

California Preview Meet at the University of California at San Diego

on Sept. 9. Glendale College will partake in its first conference

meet at College of the Canyons on Oct. 7. In between, the Vaqueros

will participate in the Cuesta, Golden West and Bakersfield

invitationals.

Judy DeLeon and Annie DeLeon will also return. Freshmen athletes

like Rosario Castaneda, Leticia Camacho, Vanessa Murillo, Sandra

Martinez, Diana Rios, Juliana Avila and Crisel Venancio will join the

DeLeon sisters.

An infusion of youth should benefit the Vaqueros for the next two

seasons.

"I like what we have here," Lopez said. "I think we have the

potential to be a very good team that can compete for the conference

championship."

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