GLENDALE — After pouring her all into winning a state title in the 10,000-meter race on Friday night, Glendale Community College distance runner Karen Rosas admitted she didn't know if she had enough left to vie for a second state crown in the 5,000 Saturday night at the second and final day of the California Community College Athletic Assn. Track and Field Championships at American River College in Sacramento.
Turns out the sophomore did have just enough left in the tank to prevail down the stretch of a literally rough and tumble race for the 5,000 crown, becoming the first Vaqueros athlete to win two titles at the state meet since Tove Berg doubled in the 10,000 and 5,000 in 2007.
"It feels great," said Rosas, who won the 5,000 in 17 minutes 37.67 seconds. "I had faith, but after [Friday] I was very sore, especially my back. It was so much pain I didn't know if I was going to be able to keep up."
Rosas spent most of the race keeping up with Sara Toberty of Orange Coast College, who took the lead following the first lap.
"She had the lead for a long time," said Rosas, who was runner up in the 10,000 and 5,000 at state last year. "At the first lap, no one wanted to take the lead. I thought, 'This all about being tactical, I've got to let someone get in front of me and let someone break the wind for me.'
"I knew she wanted to break me because she kept on speeding up and speeding up, she's so strong, too. I had a plan down, but the way I was feeling, I didn't think I was going to achieve it."
That's how the race went until Toberty and Rosas got tangled up with each other and lost their footing with about a mile to go.
Rosas got to her feet first and, after suppressing an ill-timed flash of altruism, was on her way to the finish line.
"All of a sudden, as we're racing, she trips on herself and I'm right behind her and I also stumble," Rosas said. "I got up faster than she did, she kind of rolled over. At that moment, I didn't think of the meet, I was thinking, how do I [help] her up. Than all of a sudden I turned my head to the clock and said, 'Karen, you're racing.'"
Rosas ended up beating Toberty by nearly 21 seconds.
"It's a tribute to her," Glendale Coach Eddie Lopez said. "Taking second last year in the 10K and 5K and then waiting one year to come back and do it again, that's a lot of pressure, but she handled it really well. She just ran smart and she was strong. It's a tribute to Karen and to our tradition that we have."
In all, it was strong day for the Vaqueros entire program, which saw six different athletes, including Rosas, capture All-American honors.
Cecilia Nicolas and Catlin Kelly got the Vaqueros women's day started in the 3,000-meter steeplechase, where Nicolas finished third in 11:20.09 and Kelly came in fifth in 11:33.23. Both performances were good for All-American honors.
Neil Jones, a Crescenta Valley High graduate and the only representative of the Glendale men's team at state, ended up a double All-American after placing third in the 1,500 in 3:52.17 before coming back to notch a third-place finish in the 800 in 1:53.39.
Glendale's Alyssa Selve and Laura Pluemer competed in the 1,500 and finished fifth (4:42.63) and seventh (4:47.97), respectively, to garner All-American accolades. Angela Martinez finished ninth for Glendale in 4:59.48.
Vaqueros sprinter Carissa Porter earned All-American honors with a fourth-place finish in the 100 in 12.25. Porter also finished fifth in the 200 in 25.08 to repeat as an All-American.
"The girls came to compete, I'm really proud of them," Lopez said. "Neil had a great double. I'm really proud of them."