Glendale college women’s cross-country runs to state championship

Glendale Community College women’s cross-country team members pose with their state championship trophy.
(Alex Valladares)

After two years of disappointing state-meet finishes, which came on the heels of the most impressive postseason women’s cross-country streak in California Community College Athletic Assn. history, Glendale Community College found itself back in a familiar position atop the podium Saturday at Woodward Park in Fresno.

The Vaqueros used their impressive pack running to secure a ninth team title in program history with a 66-113 victory over Saddleback.

Glendale, which has won three of the past five California titles, had its state-record streak of 12 straight podium finishes snapped in 2017 when it finished fifth. The Vaqueros endured a sixth-place finish last year.

But Glendale remained the most dominant women’s team in the state and one of the most consistent programs in the country this season, going unbeaten against two-year colleges. The ninth championship tied Glendale with Mount San Antonio for second among women’s programs in state history, trailing only Orange Coast with 16.

“We’re definitely ecstatic to bring home the state title,” said freshman Bianca Biel, who was the Vaqueros’ No. 4 runner, placing 15th by covering the 5-kilometer course in 19 minutes, 13.4 seconds. “We earned it. We worked so hard and we have been waiting for this day the entire year.”

Glendale made its move in the second half of the race, with the Vaqueros’ five scoring runners moving into the top 30.

Burbank High graduate Jamie Levin, a freshman, was the top finisher for Glendale, as she secured eighth (18:53.7) to earn All-America honors. Sophomore Phoebe Forsyth, also a Burbank graduate, and freshman Yajaira Calderon also earned All-America recognition, as they placed 10th (18:53.9) and 11th (18:57.8), respectively. Freshman Lydia Forsyth, the third member of the Burbank High trio, was the No. 5 runner for Glendale, placing 26th (19:44.3).

Glendale coach Eddie Lopez credited the team’s work ethic and focus the keys to the season success after overcoming the loss of a potential top runner before the year began.

“They have been even keel the entire season and they take care of business,” Lopez said. “A lot of times, I had to pull the girls back because they really put in the work and were really putting in overtime during the workouts.

“This is a good group of girls who had a great attitude and worked really hard. They were not afraid of the big races. They were level-headed the entire season.”

Moorpark sophomore Sophia Cortina, a fellow Western State Conference athlete, was the women’s individual winner, as she clocked 18:27.6.

The Glendale men’s team placed fourth with 194 points, trailing Mt. SAC (174), American River (65) and champion San Diego Mesa (35), which placed five runners in the top 13 for its first title since 2001.

Sophomore Spencer Geck, a Crescenta Valley High graduate, was the top finisher for the Vaqueros, as he covered the 4-mile course in 20:57.4 to place 14th and earn All-America honors.

“It’s a little bittersweet,” Geck said. “I did well as an individual, but the team got sixth last year and fourth this year. It’s definitely not where we wanted to be.”

Albert Serrano placed 39th (21:37.5), Abraham Martinez finished 42nd (21:39.2), Usiel Ulloa was 49th (21:47.2) and Kevin Keller took 50th (21:48.3) to round the top five for Glendale.

Ismael Ramirez of College of the Sequoias was the men’s winner, as he clocked 20:14, earning the program’s first individual championship since 2000.

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