Grace Zamudio leaves Glendale Community College a triple-crown winner

A year ago Grace Graham-Zamudio settled for runner-up, third- and fourth-place finishes at the state championships. The Glendale Community College women’s track and field star wouldn’t settle for anything less that first in 2013.

It resulted in Zamudio leaving the California Community College Athletic Assn. Track and Field State Championships, which was held at the College of San Mateo, and Glendale college with a triple crown.

“The last race was definitely special, I know during the last lap I was thinking, ‘This is my last lap as a Vaquero,’” said Zamudio, who capped off an incredible two-year career with the team by winning the 1,500-meter race in four minutes 36.13 seconds and the 5,000-meter in 17:41.04 on Saturday. “I was most nervous for that one.”

It turned out there was no need for nerves, as the sophomore won by at least seven seconds in all three events at the two-day meet, including a victory in the 10K Friday (37:22.19).

Zamudio, who also won all three of her events at the Western State Conference and Southern California championships, had a more than a seven-second cushion on runner-up Becky Hobby of Modesto in the 1,500 (4:43.56). Elizabeth Nelson (4:44.58) was fourth in the race for GCC.

After her sprint event, Zamudio cruised to first place more than 14 seconds ahead of Moorpark’s Megan McNally (second, 17:55.86) in the 5K, one of the endurance races she prefers.

“There’s definitely a lot more strategy that goes in with the 5 and 10 because you have to start slow and store up your energy, as opposed to the 1,500 — as soon as the gun goes you have to go,” Zamudio said. “I think as a runner I am more comfortable racing the longer distances. The shorter, more speedy ones are more difficult.”

Outside of Zamudio, Glendale college’s top finish came from Lilia Asserian, who took third in the 800 (2:17.89) and was, therefore one of three All-Americans for GCC, in addition to Zamudio, as a top-six finish determines All-American status. The sophomore said she was nervous before the race, but was pleased with her performance, especially because she edged Modesto’s Sarah Mayfield (2:18.13) by .24 of a second.

“It’s more special because it’s the final race of the year,” said Asserian of the state meet. “You’re just standing there waiting to run your race. It’s like the Olympic race for us.”

Edwardo Vasquez and Issac Diosdado also provided the Vaqueros’ men with a pair of fifth-place marks in the 1,500 (3:59.53) and 5,000 (15:06.07), respectively, as well as All-American recognition. Kurt Lutz took 12th in the 5K (15:53.00) for GCC, which also received a 12th-place finish from Quaid Vucannon in the discus (38.98 meters).

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