Vaqueros on title quest

Something didn't look right to Eddie Lopez when last season concluded

for the Glendale Community College men's cross-country squad.

For the first time since 1996, the Vaqueros didn't win the Western

State Conference championship. At first, that shocked Lopez, but the

veteran coach eventually understood why.

"You can't win all of the time," Lopez said. "It was just a matter

of time when the [conference] streak would end, even though we were

in contention until the last meet.

"It will pay off for us now, because having the streak snapped

will motivate us with all of the veterans we have returning."

Glendale College finished second behind Ventura College in the

conference standings last season. The Vaqueros also finished seventh

in Southern California and state. Those placements might suit other

junior college programs, but not Glendale College, which has won five

state championships since 1974.

Now the plan will be for the Vaqueros -- who have won 14 of the

past 17 conference crowns -- to turn to key veterans to lead them

back to the top with a shot at another state championship. Glendale

College, which has won state championships in 1976, 1976, 1980, 1995 and 1998, will return seven athletes to its 11-member squad.

Sophomores Preston Richardson and Joseph Lopez, who is Eddie

Lopez's nephew, are expected to lead the Vaqueros. Richardson, a

former Burbank High standout, and Lopez earned second-team

All-Conference honors last season.

Richardson and Lopez will look to begin a new conference streak

over the next three months for the Vaqueros, who begin their 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.

Richardson said the Vaqueros will look to peak by midseason.

"It will be a case of us striding to bring people together,"

Richardson said. "I think we field five strong runners, but we want

to get stronger by making it seven.

"I know that we can go far this year, and we have the potential to

finish in the top three in state."

The other returners will be Ivan Perez, Luis Castenada, Alberto

Ramos, Dempsey Macariegos and Victor Rios.

The top newcomer will be Sergio Lares, who was the Los Angeles

City Section champion in the 3,200-meter event in track and field

last season for Franklin High. Other freshmen expected to join Lares

are Manuel Ramirez, Francisco Soto and Cuperdino Flores.

Eddie Lopez, who ran for the Vaqueros in 1978 and 1979, said the

Vaqueros should have plenty of depth.

"We are stronger and we emphasize improvement," he said. "We've

stepped up our speeds during practice.

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