GLENDALE — Karen Rosas wasn't planning to deviate from her strategy moments before taking part in the 10,000-meter race at the California Community College Athletic Assn. Track and Field Championships on Friday night.
The Glendale Community College women's distance runner said she was comfortable with her plan of staying in the lead pack throughout the 25-lap race before building separation over the final eight laps.
Rosas' move worked, as she clocked 37 minutes 19.69 seconds to capture her first state championship at American River College in Sacramento.
"I am just so grateful and very proud to win state for the first time," said Rosas, who bested runner-up Ayded Reyes of San Diego Southwestern (37:45.33). "It's the most amazing thing and I have put a lot of hard work into it.
"I knew I had to run a tactical race and it wasn't too windy. I felt good throughout and I picked up the pace for the last eight laps."
Rosas, who also earned an All-American nod, is the second state champion in as many years for the Vaqueros, who saw Rosa Del Toro accomplish the feat in the 1,500 last season.
Vivian Ochoa turned in a mark of 38:49.09 to place sixth and earn All-American accolades.
Rosas, who will compete in the 5,000 race at 8:05 p.m. today at the same venue, finished second at state last season in the 10,000.
Last year's performance gave her additional incentive to reel in the title Friday.
"I knew I had a chance to win it and I learned a lot from last year's race," Rosas said. "I've been thinking about this race all week."
Glendale college Coach Eddie Lopez said Rosas ran swiftly, similar to when she won the 5,000 at the Southern California Championships at Mount San Antonio College on May 13.
"I'm so happy for her," Lopez said. "She just ran a tactical race.
"With those last eight laps, she was able to pick it up."
Ochoa garnered All-American honors for the second straight season and closed out her career at Glendale on a positive note. She finished fourth last year in the event at Antelope Valley College.
"I worked my way by staying in the middle of the pack," Ochoa said. "I wanted to get All-American badly.
"It means a lot getting All-American this year. I ran a great race [Friday] and I'm happy with where I placed. It's great that Karen won and we could share being All-Americans."