In a recent stretch of dominance, just as Glendale Community College’s Grace Zamudio has gone, so too has the Vaqueros’ women’s cross-country team.
On Friday afternoon, that streak took a bit of a hit, but, by the numbers and Zamudio’s account, it was a step in the right direction.
Zamudio continued her borderline unbelievable tour de force, winning her sixth straight race at the Santa Barbara Invitational at Leadbetter Beach, while the Vaqueros finished second to powerhouse Orange Coast College.
“Personally, I feel like we did well, but we definitely have things to improve on,” said Zamudio, who won handily yet again, taking first in 19 minutes 54 seconds, which set a course record and won the race by 32 seconds. “I feel really blessed to be where I’m at. This program has helped me so much.”
Orange Coast had consecutive finishers from third through fifth en route to posting a winning total of 31 points to Glendale’s 40. The nine-point differential was a marked improvement from the 18 points that separated the teams on two occasions earlier in the year.
“We’re moving up every week,” Zamudio said. “That’s important, [we’re] just taking it one race at a time.”
On the men’s side, the Vaqueros, who came in having won their last two invitationals, took third with 69 points, behind first-place Riverside (53) and Orange Coast (67).
“It was a down week for us,” said Issac Diosdado, who finished fourth to lead the GCC contingent in 22:33 in the men’s four-mile race. “We’re all tired and it was just a little bump in the road.
“I’m not really disappointed, I just see it as a mistake to learn from.”
Kurt Lutz finished just nine seconds behind Diosdado, but was five spots behind in ninth. A pack of Vaqueros came across from 18th through 24th.
Ashton Malone (17th, 22:50), Mario Castillo (18th, 22:57) and Vladimir Diaz (20th, 23:00) finished out the scoring five, followed closely by Mizrael Mendez (21st, 23:03) and Yeltsen Vasquez (24th, 23:07).
On the women’s side, Lizzette Gonzalez was second across the line for GCC, taking sixth in 20:53. Charlene Quintanilla (ninth, 21:10) then led the remaining scorers in a pack that included Elizabeth Nelson (12th, 21:32) and Abril Ramirez (14th, 21:46).
Zamudio made her charge roughly a mile and a half into the race, she said.
“I just ran really strong into the finish,” Zamudio said.
While the invite served as a precursor to likely showdowns at the Southern California Championships and state against OCC, it was also valuable in preparing the Vaqueros for the Western State Conference Finals, which will also be at Leadbetter.
“It was a very tough course,” Zamudio said. “It had grass, it has sand, it had cement. I think we ran very well considering the difficulty of the course.
“It’s a great experience. We know where we need to improve. We didn’t count this race as a loss, we counted it as a learning experience.”