FRESNO — With the last two All-America spots in the women’s 5-kilometer race decided in the final steps Saturday at the California Community College Athletic Association State Cross-Country Championships, the heartbreaking near-miss endured by Glendale Community College sophomore Jennifer Perez-Cazarez served as a microcosm for the entire Vaquero program.
For the first time in 15 years, Glendale’s men’s and women’s teams not only failed to secure a spot on the podium awarded to the top three teams in men’s and women’s competition, but the Vaqueros also departed Woodward Park in Fresno without an individual All-American, an honor given to the top 14 finishers in each race.
In the woman’s race, Perez-Cazarez finished 15th and Marcelo Ramirez placed 27th in the men’s race as the top two individual finishers for Glendale, which had its streak of 12 straight women’s podium finishes snapped last year.
The men’s team finished in sixth place for the second consecutive season, with the women’s team dropping back a spot after securing fifth last year.
“It’s a little disappointing,” said Perez-Cazarez, who was edged by one-tenth of a second by Mt. San Antonio College’s Sadie Encinas and L.A. Harbor College’s Cynthia Melendez at 18 minutes, 53.3 seconds to 18:53.4.
“We tried our best and gave it our all. We had a really good season. It was just a few races that didn’t work out the way we wanted.”
L.A. Harbor won its first team title in program history with 72 points, followed by Hartnell (99 points) and Moorpark (118) to earn spots on the team podium.
Harbor’s Brenda Rosales-Coria was the individual champion, as she clocked 17:59.4. The Sea Hawks became the first women’s team to have the individual and team champions in the same season since Glendale accomplished the feat in 2011 with Karen Rosas winning the title.
“It all came down to race experience with pressure,” Glendale coach Eddie Lopez said. “You can go to invitationals and run fast, then go Western State Conference and then Southern California Championships. But when all the teams are at state, you have to be ready. That’s the bottom line. Physically, the workouts were really good. Mentally, you just have to be ready to race.”
Noemi Apreza finished 28th (19:33.1), Daisy Romero was 34th (19:38.4), Genesis Siam-Alvarez was 51st (19:57.3) and Jazmin Negro placed 73rd (20:31.4) for Glendale, which won its 14th straight Western State Conference title Oct. 19.
Ramirez clocked 21:05.4 to lead the Vaqueros in the men’s 4-mile race, helping Glendale finish with 190 points behind Riverside (173), L.A. Harbor (164), San Diego Meza (121) and El Camino (90).
Mt. San Antonio won its second straight team title and third in program history with 49 points, placing three runners in the top 20.
El Camino College’s Carson Bix was the individual winner, as he clocked 20:07.5.
“Obviously today, as an individual, it wasn’t the best race,” Ramirez said. “The pace of the race was fast. In the third mile, I had to catch up a lot. It just didn’t happen the way I wanted it to.”
Akol Malong finished 35th (21:16.3), Alberto Serrano was 45th (21:24), Antonio Arroyo was 58th (21:38.3) and Moses Merino placed 60th (21:41).
“The women finished third and the men were fourth at So Cal Championships,” Lopez said. “We were right there. We were there not to win, but to at least make podium.”