Day of firsts for Vaqueros

Expectations have been enormous lately for the Glendale Community College women's and men's cross-country teams.

In the past several seasons, both programs have battled for Western State Conference championships and appeared in the state meet.

To get there, though, the Vaqueros have also enjoyed success at invitationals across Southern California.

The Vaqueros showed that they meant business once again Friday, as each team had a first-place runner at the Golden West Invitational at Central Park in Huntington Beach.

In the women's race, Alyssa Selve finished first in 18 minutes 20 seconds and led a cavalcade of Glendale college runners who turned in top-10 finishes en route to winning the 5K meet with 18 points. Mizrael Mendez of Glendale took the men's race in 20 minutes, helping the Vaqueros place second with 48 points on the four-mile course.

"Our teams have been good so far this season because of their workouts," Glendale Coach Eddie Lopez said. "It's about going out on the course and being able to pace yourself and using that as a strength."

Selve was one of seven Glendale women's runners who posted top-10 marks. Among those who earned top-10 finishes included Karen Rosas (second, 18:26), Angela Martinez (fourth, 18:45), Grace Graham-Zamudio (fifth, 18:53), Laura Pluemer (sixth, 18:54), Nohemi Martinez (seventh, 19:01) and Cecilia Nicolas (eighth, 19:18).

Mount San Antonio College took second with 81 points, followed by Moorpark (109).

Lopez said Selve excelled on the hill portion of the race.

"That's where she's accustomed to it," Lopez said. "Halfway through the course there's a pretty big downhill and she used that to her advantage and brought it home finishing first.

"The key for the women was to stay at a certain pace and run as a pack in the first mile. Don't try to go out there and set some kind of course record. They just try to earn points for the team."

Mendez led throughout most of his race en route to winning his third meet of the season and leading the Vaqueros to a second-place finish. Mendez, a freshman, took first in the Orange Coast College Classic on Sept. 17 in 20:21.40.

"He's been putting in the work and you can see him getting better every race," Lopez said. "Our team times have been coming down each week and our top guys ran about 20 seconds faster [on Friday]."

Jesus Gutierrez placed sixth in 20:30 for the Vaqueros, who got a 10th-place effort from Isaac Diosdado (20:40). Alec Nelson finished 17th in 21:07 for Glendale, which got an 18th-place performance from Vladimir Diaz (21:07).

San Bernardino Valley College, the defending state champion, won the event with 26 points. Riverside Community College was third with 73 points.

The Vaqueros will next participate in the Southern California Preview, which will be held at 10 a.m. Friday at Cucamonga-Gusti Park in Ontario.

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