Kyle Hughes wins the OEC Championship race and teammate Chris Drozd placed fourth. The Gauchos went on to place 9th as a team in the Southern California Regional Championship and qualified for the state meet on November 19
Saddleback College freshman Ivan Garcia won the individual title at the Orange Empire Conference championship race on Saturday at Irvine Regional Park. Garcia's effort to top the field of 73 runners gave Saddleback the individual champion for the second consecutive year, following in the footsteps of 2005 champion Kyle Hughes.
Garcia covered the course in 21:08 and the Gauchos placed third as a team with Jason Beadle finishing 11th (22:06), Jonathan Ramirez placing 16th (22:21), James Finona finishing 19th (22:44) and Jorge Gonzales finishing 21st (22:51).
Saddleback's harriers will now compete in the Southern California regional championship on Saturday, November 4, in Lancaster.
The Gaucho women's team placed fourth at the conference finals and also qualified for the So Cal regional meet. Maricela Torres was the team's top finisher, placing 14th in the field of 49 finishers. Jenny Stangl finished 20th overall (22:46) while Brittany Lawrence and Sophia Dossland battled for 22nd and 23rd place, both crossing the tape in 24:10.
Saddleback College qualified its entire men’s cross country team for the California community college state championship meet to be held at Woodward Park in Fresno this Saturday, November 19, at 11:00 a.m.
It’s the first time since 2001 that the Gauchos have qualified as a team for the state championship race. That 2001 team placed 16th in the state.
The Gauchos qualified for the state meet by placing ninth at the Southern California regional championship race on November 4 on the U.C. San Diego course. That top 10 finish was the best regional placing for the Gauchos since 1997 when the team placed fourth in Southern California and went on to finish sixth in the state under the coaching guidance of John Klink.
Saddleback will have only one runner with state championship experience. Sophomore Kyle Hughes qualified as an individual runner in last year’s state championship race and placed 43rd in the field of 179 runners. It’s expected that Hughes will place much higher this year.
Hughes, the Gauchos’ top runner, won the Irvine Invitational on October 8 and then captured the Orange Empire Conference championship individual title on October 28. His performances earned him the state’s male Athlete of the Month honor for October. Hughes placed fifth at the Southern California regional championship in a field of 187 runners to earn all-Southern California regional honors and will be shooting for a top 10 finish at the state meet.
Chris Drozd (San Marcos HS), Jonathan Ramirez (San Clemente HS), and Marc Russell (San Clemente HS) are also expected to finish in the first half of the pack. The three freshmen had solid races in October and placed in the top half of all finishers at the regional championship.