Glendale Community College's Grace Zamudio captures state title in 10,000

In beginning her quest Friday to win a triple crown at the California Community College Track and Field Championships, Grace Zamudio didn’t change her racing strategy.

With a light breeze blowing, the Glendale Community College women’s distance runner broke past the starting line in the 10,000-meter event and paced herself before breaking away from the pack in the final mile.

Zamudio cleared the first hurdle in her quest to win three state championships, as she clocked 37 minutes:22.19 seconds to win the event at College of San Mateo and earn her first state title in track and field.

“It’s such a special accomplishment to win this race and get a state championship,” said Zamudio, a sophomore who bested runner-up Evelyn De La Cruz of L.A. Trade Tech (37:39.46). “I sure wanted to run better than last year at state.

“The running conditions were good for me. In the first half of the race, I pretty much stuck with the pack. I was able to separate myself at the end. There was so much good competition.”

Zamudio became the third Glendale participant to win a state title in the 10K since 2008, joining Tove Berg (2008) and Karen Rosas (2011). She finished fourth in the event at state last season (38:29.16).

“It’s an honor to be mentioned with those people,” Zamudio said. “I was a teammate with Karen and I respected her so much.”

Zamudio had already won Western State Conference championships in the 10K, 5,000 and 1,500 before duplicating the feat at the Southern California Championships. She will compete in the 5K and 1,500 on Saturday at the same site.

“I’m excited to try to win the next two races,” Zamudio said.

Glendale men’s athlete Nick La Croix recorded a mark 49.02 meters to finish ninth in the hammer. La Croix captured a conference championship in the event.

Ana Tonga of Glendale took part in the javelin, but didn’t record an official mark Friday.

Also set to compete Saturday for the Glendale women’s team are Elizabeth Nelson and Lilia Asserian. Nelson and Asserian will take part in the 5K and 800, respectively.

On the men’s side, Isaac Diosdado, Edwardo Vasquez, Quaid Vuncannon and Kurt Lutz are scheduled to perform Saturday after helping the Vaqueros win a conference championship for the first time since 1989.

Diosdado and Lutz will partake in the 5K. Lutz won a conference title in the 5K. Vasquez will race in the 1,500 and Vuncannon will compete in the discus.

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