NORTHEAST GLENDALE — Neil Jones insisted he isn't nervous. If he were, nobody could blame him.
The Glendale Community College men's track and field standout will make his first appearance at the California Community College Athletic Assn. Track and Field Championships. For some, nerves might get the best of them competing in a top-flight meet. Not so for the affable Jones.
"To be able to go after a state title or two is just so amazing," said Jones, who will compete in the 800-meter and 1,500 races in the two-day meet, which will be held Friday and Saturday at American River College in Sacramento. "My dream to get to state has come true, and I have no doubts that I can do well.
"I feel good about myself and there are no new [racing] strategies. It's pretty much going to be the same approach and routine for me in each race."
Jones will be the lone Vaquero from the men's team competing. He will be joined by eight athletes from the women's team. Among the female Glendale athletes scheduled to participate are Karen Rosas, Vivian Ochoa, Cecilia Nicolas, Catlin Kelly, Angela Martinez, Laura Pluemer, Alyssa Selve and Carissa Porter.
They reached state after meeting the qualifying times and finishes in their respective events at the Southern California Championships, which were held Friday at Mount San Antonio College in Walnut.
Rosas and Ochoa will take part in the 10,000 race at 7:45 p.m. Friday. Rosas and Ochoa finished second and fourth, respectively, at the state meet last season at Antelope Valley College. They qualified for state during the Southern California Championship prelims on May 6 at Mt. SAC.
"I want to stay up there near the top of the pack," Ochoa said. "Last year was a learning experience for me competing at state.
"It's going to be my last race. I've put a lot of work into getting here all season and will keep running to the end."
On Saturday, Jones will run in the 1,500 at 5:25 p.m. and the 800 at 7. Jones, a Crescenta Valley High graduate, finished second in the 1,500 in 3 minutes 55.89 seconds and fourth in the 800 in 1:53.59 at the Southern California Championships.
Nicolas and Kelly will participate in the 3,000 steeplechase at 4:20, followed by Martinez, Pluemer and Selve in the 1,500 at 5:15. Porter will participate in the 100 at 6:30 and the 200 at 7:45.
Rosas will close things out by racing in the 5,000 at 8:05. Rosas took first in the 5,000 at the Southern California Championships after winning the event at the Western State Conference Championship.
"I think with a lot of them, they are confident," said Glendale coach Eddie Lopez said. "They've run enough meets throughout the season, so they are used to the pressure.
"It's another race for them and the best thing to do is to keep it simple. They all have a chance to do well and they know what to do."