GLENDALE â€” Though it won't be the same cast, the objective will be the same â€” win another state championship.
It's something that hasn't been forgotten by the members of the Glendale Community College women's cross-country program, which won the state crown last year for the first time since 1980 with a talented group that never shied away from taking to and handling some of the most difficult courses.
The Vaqueros don't want to take a chance of encountering any possibilities of veering off course during the next several months.
â€œWe are not as deep as last year, but at least we know the potential is there,â€ said Glendale college Coach Eddie Lopez, whose team will open its season on Friday in the Ventura Invitational. â€œIt's going to be a much younger team, but there's talent.
â€œWe want to win another state championship. [The runners] will get more tired and sore, but we have confidence in their ability to do well again.â€
For the Vaqueros â€” they also captured the Western State Conference title and Southern California Championships en route to going undefeated â€” to achieve additional success, they will do so without standouts Tove Berg and Vivien Wadeck. Berg and Wadeck finished second and third, respectively, at the state meet at Woodward Park in Fresno last year before completing their eligibility at Glendale college last spring.
Hence, Lopez, who was tabbed the state's women's coach of the year last season, will attempt to put together another formidable lineup up to the task of trying to repeat.
â€œIt's probably going to come down to how well our fifth runner in our lineup does,â€ said Lopez, whose team has won two straight conference championships. â€œIt's a whole that makes you a quality team.
â€œIt's the attitude that makes a big difference with what you want to accomplish in the end. We want to win conference and then see if we can win the Southern California Championships and then state.â€
With the losses of Berg, Wadeck and Desiree Ruiz, Lopez had to do some heavy duty recruiting.
Lopez should have plenty of depth, highlighted with the return of sophomore Justina Sadauskaite. Sadauskaite adjusted well in making the transition from high school to the collegiate level. She finished ninth at the state meet and will be counted on to provide leadership similar to that of Berg, a former All-American selection, and Wadeck.
The other returner to the 10-member squad will be Reyna Samaniego.
Lopez brought in a multitude of talented first-year runners that include Katie Dunn, Rosa Del Toro, Karla Perez, Kristine Kaneich, Angie Gonzalez, Lidia Ferman, Burroughs High graduate Katie Vahoviak and Bridgette Fernandez. Vahoviak and Fernandez transferred from Long Beach State and Cerritos College, respectively.
Dunn is fresh off helping Saugus High win two straight CIF Southern Section Division I championships.
â€œI think we can be very successful,â€ said Lopez, who added that perennial powerhouse Orange Coast Community College will be a formidable opponent at the state meet.
The Vaqueros will host the Western State Conference Preview at 3 p.m. Oct. 10 at Verdugo Park.
The conference championship race will take place Oct. 28 in Santa Maria, and the Southern California Championship will be held Nov. 7 in Bakersfield. The state meet will occur Nov. 22 in Fresno.