Dons Steal Close "Duel Meet" From Panthers

Dons Steal Close "Duel Meet" From Panthers
The annual Hartnell College vs DeAnza College "Duel Meet" is the brainchild of the head coaches of both programs. Hartnell Head Coach Christopher Zepeda and DeAnza coach Nick Mattis have been at the helm of both for approximately the same number of years. In that time, a friendly rivalry that often determines the end of season championship distribution has been born. Since 2007, DeAnza College is the only Coast Conference program to win a men's title more than once from Hartnell stranglehold taking victories in 2012 and most recently 2017. On the women's side, the Lady Dons have been even more successful taking the last two conference titles and four overall since 2007, the same number as the Lady Panthers. Last year's opening meet between the two teams ended up predicting the eventual conference champions with the Dons taking both trophies in April. On Saturday, both squads returned to Hartnell College for  the second annual two team competition with the Dons narrowly edging the Panthers on the men's side 77.33 to 75.66 points. The Lady Panthers took back the ceremonial plaque given to the winning team by tallying 86 points to the Lady Dons total of 58.

For the men, freshman Jack Fling, formerly of Palma High School, enjoyed a solid debut in a Hartnell uniform. He won the the pole vault with a season opening mark of 14'1.25". He also placed second in the high jump with a clearance of 6'1.5". Both marks surpassed the regional championship provisional mark. Fall's Northern California cross country champion Ricky Esqueda was victorious in both the 1500 meters (4:07.56) and 3000 meters (9:07.31). Former North County standout thrower Manuel Gallardo is back in uniform and tossed the discus to the victory (138'8") just short of the Hartnell all-time list. Sophomore Daniel Rangel also returned to action after a year away to win the shot put (40'2.75"). The Panthers saw excellent debuts from hurdlers Rex Tomimbang and Brendan Lepe. Both stars while at Alisal High School and North Salinas High School, Tomimbang won the 110 high hurdles in 15.68 and Lepe took the 400 intermediate hurdles in 58.23. All totaled the Panthers had eight regional provisional qualifying marks to start the season.

The ladies enjoyed a mix of veteran leadership and newcomer enthusiasm. Sophomore Sherise Robinson won both the 200 meters (26.50) and 400 (61.66). Fellow sophomore Haley Romero was a double event winner as well taking the 100 hurdles (16.46) and long jump (17'5"). Freshman Monica Ruelas (5:13.82) won her first race as a Lady Panther in the 1500 meters. Sophomore Jocelyn Cervantes (11:02.91) moves to seventeenth all-time in the rarely 3000 meter run. Freshmen Tyshell Johnson-Hill and Idalys Romero provided much needed balance in the throws. Johnson-Hill won the shot put (37'8.50") and Romero was third in the discus (104'5"). Both relays took the the victory in 52.05 and 4:23.36. The Lady Panthers provided ten regional qualifying marks to begin the season.

The Hartnell College track and field team will next compete at the Monterey Peninsula College Open on Saturday, February 17th.