A wet course and a light drizzle weren’t exactly the ideal elements to race in for Karen Rosas. Then again, it proved quite easy in comparison considering the standout Glendale Community College women’s cross-country runner had earlier battled food poisoning.
With rain drops falling on Rosas, she managed to pull away from the pack and finish first at the Southern California Championships at Cucamonga-Guasti Regional Park in Ontario on Friday afternoon, just as her team did.
“My stride got a little bigger toward the end and I had faith in myself that I could win.”
Glendale’s men’s team placed fourth with 157 points after taking sixth at last season’s race. The Vaqueros’ top finisher was Mizrael Mendez, who turned in a mark of 20:37.2 to place eighth on the 4.1-mile course.
Both teams will next participate in the California Community College Cross Country Championships, which will be held Nov. 19 at Woodward Park in Fresno.
Rosas suffered a case of food poisoning Wednesday night and was too ill to practice Thursday afternoon. However, Rosas, who won state championships in track and field in the 5,000- and 10,000-meter events in June, said she began to feel better Thursday night and had enough stamina to take the field.
Glendale easily won the meet with 27 points, followed by Orange Coast Community College (100) and L.A. Trade Tech (101).
The Vaqueros had four top-10 finishes, including Alyssa Selve (second, 18:00.6). Angela Martinez (third, 18:01.6) and Grace Graham-Zamudio (ninth, 18:25.8). Glendale, which finished second behind San Diego Southwestern College at last season’s event near San Diego, also got a 12th-place performance from Nohemi Martinez (18:37.2).
“There was a lot of great competition and to come in here and get 27 points is amazing,” said Rosas, who won the Western State Conference crown Oct. 25. “It’s great to get it back, and that kind of a gap tells us we are ready for state.”
Also finishing for the Vaqueros were Laura Pluemer (14th, 18:39.6) and Cecilia Nicolas (21st, 18:52.9).
Regaining first place was one of the main goals set by the Vaqueros before the season began.
“We felt good coming in that we could win it after nearly doing it last year,” Glendale Coach Eddie Lopez said. “Karen went out there and set the pace and Alyssa and Angie took off.
“There are still two weeks to go until state. We are not there yet, but winning state is the main goal.”
In the men’s race, the Vaqueros received a 23rd-place effort from Issac Diosdoda (20:54.1). Also completing the race for Glendale was Alexander Nelson (33rd, 21:10.4), Jesus Gutierrez (42nd, 21:19.4), Yeltsen Vasquez (51st, 21;26.3), Nicholas Marquez (76th, 1:42.1) and Macario Sanchez (77th, 21:46.6).
San Bernardino Valley College won with 68 points, followed by Trade Tech (77) and San Diego Mesa (122).
Lopez said Mendez, who won the conference title, battled despite being sick.
“He’s been sick for the last half of the week and that played a factor in how he did,” Lopez said. “We didn’t run to our potential and it just wasn’t there.
“We will have guys who will run faster at state.”