Bolstered by a record-breaking jump from Justice Shank and the dazzling distance running of Grace Zamudio, the Glendale Community College women's track and field team emerged from the California Community College Athletic Assn. Southern California Finals on Saturday at San Diego Mesa College with a second-place showing — the program's greatest ever.
"It's really special because we've been working so hard for the last four or five months," said Zamudio of GCC taking second with 70 points, just five behind winner Cerritos and 15 in front of third-place Antelope Valley. "We're all very proud. ...We're just happy to be able to accomplish this as a team."
Shank, who won the SoCal title in the high jump with a school record mark of 5 feet 7 inches, shared Zamudio's sentiments.
"It was so crazy," Shank said. "I felt lucky to be a part of it."
Both Shank and Zamudio won individual SoCal titles and were part of myriad Vaqueros moving on to next week's state championships to be held at Cerritos College in Norwalk. In all, GCC had 13 qualifiers, with Zamudio, Angie Martinez, Cecilia Nicolas and Nohemi Martinez qualifying in multiple events, led by Zamudio, qualified for three.
Zamudio won the 10,000-meters race in 38 minutes 8.41 seconds on May 5 in San Diego, not that far in front of teammate Nohemi Martinez (38:48.49), who also advanced to state with her third-place showing.
"I didn't really go in thinking I would win, I just went in hoping to PR and work with my teammate to get under 39," Zamudio said, "and we did."
On Saturday, though, Zamudio came through once again with a big showing for the Vaqs, taking second in the 5,000 at 18:25.53 as the first in a cavalcade of GCC runners who piled up points and four total state berths in the event.
Angie Martinez took fifth in 18:24.53 and was followed by teammates Nohemi Martinez (sixth, 18:25.53) and Cecilia Nicolas (seventh, 18:32.93).
"That's just how we naturally race," said Zamudio of her team packing together. "As the race progressed, we just started picking people off."
Angie Martinez and Nicolas finished consecutively in the steeplechase, as well, with Martinez taking second in 11:21.15 and Nicolas finishing third in 11:21.30.
Alyssa Selve ran to a fourth-place mark of 4:42.05 to qualify in the 1,500 with Zamudio's seventh-place finish coming in 4:45.56, though Zamudio said she will forego the 1,500 and just race at state in the 10,000 on Friday and the 5,000 on Saturday.
Lilia Asserian moved on to state in the 800 at 2:16.38, as well.
For Shank, it was a historic day on two fronts, as she was a vital part in the team's second-place finish and laid to waste the school's previous high jump record of 5-6.25, set by Bianca Howard in 1996.
"In the beginning of the season, I'd only been hitting 5-2, 5-2 over and over," said Shank, who hit 5-3 in the prelims. "It was really exciting.
So too, obviously was becoming a SoCal individual champion.
"It feels crazy," she said. "It feels really good."
Vladimir Diaz was the last Vaquero standing for the men's team, as he moved on after a third-place finish in the steeplechase at 9:34.06.