Lizzy Nelson leads Glendale Community College cross-country to second at state

Lizzy Nelson’s last run for the Glendale Community College women’s cross-country team was a memorable one.

Nelson took third place in 18 minutes 2 seconds at the CCCAA Championships at Woodward Park in Fresno to lead the Vaqueros to a second-place finish and the program’s ninth consecutive top-three team standing at state.

“The girls rallied and raced well,” said GCC Coach Eddie Lopez, whose girls took second or better for the eighth consecutive year. “Best race of the year, for Lizzy and all the girls.”

However, the men’s race wasn’t quite as memorable for the Vaqueros, who took a disappointing 13th place.

The women’s 5,000-meters race was won by East L.A.’s Laura Aceves in 17:43 with Nelson coming to the finish line 19 seconds later. Orange Coast, as predicted by most, won the team championship with 73 points, while Glendale checked in with 126 points, ahead of third-place Mount San Antonio College (180).

“We feel really, really good about it,” said Nelson of her team’s performance. “I don’t think there’s really anything we could’ve done different. I think everybody ran to their potential today.”

While Nelson’s race brought an end to her days with GCC cross-country, the end result was very much about how she started.

Nelson finished fourth two weeks prior at the Southern California Championships, but had to rally late from 10th place after she went out too fast from the start. Nelson said Lopez urged her to try another strategy and hold back more at the onset of the race Saturday. Nelson admitted she wasn’t quite sure that the final race of the season was the best time to change things up, but she did and it worked out well.

“I definitely felt a lot better about this race,” said Nelson of her state performance compared to her SoCal showing. “I did [go out slower] and it ended up really well for me. I’m really happy I trusted [Lopez] and it worked out.”

Said Lopez: “We’ve been talking about this for a while. ... She looked smooth and composed. She had a great kick at the end.”

Following Nelson, Glindyll Mancia was Glendale’s No. 2 runner, taking 16th in 18:55.

Thereafter, GCC packed well.

Caitlyn Selve finished at 32nd in 19:22, not far in front of teammate Kelly Castillo (39th, 19:26). Teresa Villafuerte wrapped up the scoring five with a 48th-place finish in 19:34.

“They ran really well together,” Nelson said.

The men’s squad, which finished second at state last year, was 13th with 381 points. Led by winner Luis Luna (19:59), American River won the four-mile race with 72 points, while Orange Coast took second with 93.

Steban Aviles and Hoover High alumnus Daniel Marin led the way for the Vaqueros. Aviles took 40th in 21:17 with Marin finishing at 49th in 21:23. The final scoring trio packed together, with Enrique Ramirez (93rd, 21:53), Edwardo Vasquez (106th, 22:08) and Jorge Mendoza (119th, 22:20) rounding out the day.

“The last two weeks, the practices looked good,” Lopez said. “I expected better results.

“They cruised and you can’t do that.”

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