GLENDALE — The Western State Conference will likely once again be expected to be among the elite this season.
Glendale Community College men’s and women’s track and field Coach Eddie Lopez won’t argue with that assessment. To be pointed in the right direction of challenging for potential conference titles, Lopez believes his Vaqueros will need to have plenty of depth from the running lanes to the jump pits.
Lopez just might have that depth and talent available at his disposal for both programs, which will take part in the first of four conference meets at 2 p.m. today at College of the Canyons.
“It will always be a strong conference, so the more depth and talent you can have out there, the better off we can and will be,” said Lopez, who guided the women’s and men’s program’s to second- and ninth-place finishes, respectively, in conference last season. “I think our teams will be a lot stronger than last year.
“We will have more depth and talent in most phases with the men’s team. With the women’s team, we should see more success in conference and hopefully end up in the top three at the state meet.”
Until the state meet in May, there’s plenty of ground for the Vaqueros to cover during the next three-plus months. Glendale college’s teams will mostly have freshmen on board after both squads saw several key athletes graduate last spring in Tove Berg, Vivien Wadeck, Michael Flowers and James Poet.
“I think we will be better in dual meets,” said Lopez, who guided the college’s women’s cross-country team to a second-place finish at state last fall after the squad captured a state title in 2007. “We have a lot of talented freshmen on both teams, and it will just be a matter of coming along slowly and being ready by late-April.”
Berg capped her brilliant career at Glendale college with repeat state title victories in the 5,000- and 10,000-meter races. Wadeck took second in the 1,500 and third in the 5,000 at the state meet.
While the duo might be hard to replace, it doesn’t necessarily mean the women’s team will be short on talent.
The distance runners will feature a strong nucleus that will include Katie Dunn and Justina Sadauskaite, who led the cross-country team to prominence along with Zitalic Ley, Rosa Del Toro, Bridgette Fernandez, Kristine Kaneich, Angie Gonzalez and Lidia Ferman.
The women’s team will also boast the return of sprinter Melani Artoun-Livaskan, who will be counted on to excel in the 100, 200 and relays. Glendale High graduate Samantha Bogatz will also be expected to run the same events as Artoun-Livaskan, and Hoover High graduate Shannon Azizi will compete in the heptathlon.
Montana Balfour and Janette Morfin will run in the 200 and 400.
Isabelle Carter (shot put, hammer, discus and javelin), Glendale High graduates Percy Goldwire (jumps) and Angie Torosiyan (shot put and discus), Shloe Vignolles (javelin and shot put) and Crescenta Valley High graduate Ashley Baucham (high jump) will take part in the field events.
“It’s one of the best women’s teams that we’ve had in a long time,” said Lopez, whose teams will also participate in several invitational and relay meets throughout the campaign.
The men’s program will look to bounce back with a mostly new group. Lopez said a potential strength for the Vaqueros might come with their core of sprinters.
Freshmen Willie Youngblood, a standout as running back on the Glendale college football team, and Trent Adams will take part in the 100, 200 and relays. Adam Hogan will compete in the 400 and relays, while Shalom Montgomery will take part in the 200, 400 and relays.
The long-distance runners will feature sophomore Damian Fuentes and freshmen Adrian Anderson in the 800 and 1,600 and Walter Cano in the 1,600. Jonathan Alpizar, Frankie Quijada and Matan Mayer will take part in the 1,500, 5K, 10K and the steeplechase.
Glendale college will also have Crescenta Valley High graduate Nathan Sellers, who transferred from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo before starring on the Glendale college men’s cross-country squad, in the 1,500, 3K, 5K and 10K. Sellers will be joined by Francis Herrera, who will take part in the same events.
There should also be added depth in the field events for Glendale college.
Alex Murphy (javelin), Robert Pardo and Crescenta Valley High graduate Tanner Farwell (shot put), Glendale High graduate David Nalbaudyun (relays and jumps), Dan Belisle (high jump), Chris Santoyo (pole vault) and Kalii Robinson (triple jump) will be called upon to grab points for the Vaqueros. George Lopez will compete in the 400 intermediate hurdles.
“We should be right up there,” Eddie Lopez said. “It will be a question of how much they will develop.”