Panther Men Bring Conference Title Back to Salinas

Panther Men Bring Conference Title Back to Salinas

Despite an early season loss in a head-to-head match-up with Coast Conference rival DeAnza College, the Hartnell College men's team was able to get the team moving in the right direction in the final weeks of the regular season. They began the championship portion of the season with a decisive team victory at the Coast Conference Championship held at Chabot College. The Panthers tallied 254 points to second place DeAnza College at 164 points. The men enjoyed eight event winners with all of them being first conference champions.

The first contested finals were on Wednesday preceeding the championship Saturday with the 10,000 meters, long jump, hammer, and javelin being contested for the first points of the championship. Sophomore Williams Ordaz netted a State Automatic qualfiying mark in the 10,000 meters with a time of 32:31.78. He was followed by teammate Ricky Esqueda in second in 32:50.11. The Panthers were able to earn 30 points from the 25 lap race with Alfredo Mejia, Jr. taking fourth, Jonathan Saldana fifth, Nick Merillana seventh, and Andres Rodriguez eighth. Sophomore thrower Daniel Rangel picked up five points in the hammer throw by placing fourth overall and freshman Manuel Gallardo added one more point for eighth. Freshman Kyle Henn scored two points in seventh in the javelin. The men's long jump provided an extra day one boost with sophomore Fernando Garcia getting second and Clemente Villareal fourth.

On Saturday, freshman Nick Merillana was a surprise double winner taking both the 1500 meters (4:01.04) and 800 meters (1:58.50) in lifetime bests. Fellow frosh Jack Fling also pulled mild upsets defeating Norcal top ranked pole vaulter Peter Alexander of host Chabot College. Fling cleared a lifetime best 15'3" to win the competition and automatically qualify for the CCCAA State Championship. Fling leaped over teammate Jordan Finister for the triple jump win in a lifetime best 13.62m with Finister also at a lifetime best 13.44m. Hurdlers Rex Tomimbang, Jr. and Brendan Lepe also picked up victories with Tomimnbang victorious in the 110 meter hurdles (15.51) and Lepe in the 400 meter hurdles (57.11). Ricky Esqueda picked up his first conference title to go with his fall cross country one in the 5000 meter run (15:38.12). Jonathan Saldana was a close second in the 3k steeplechase in 9:49.02 with teammate Christian Aldape improving on his lifetime best in third (10:05.86). Adam Alnazer went from not competing the 1500 meters in last year's final to placing second this year in a lifetime best 4:02.33. Williams Ordaz added to his medal haul with a second place in the 5000 meters (15:46.81). Daniel Rangel and Wyatt Conner added important third and fourth place finishes in shot put with Conner extending his season with a provisional mark of 12.52m. Kyle Henn earned a bronze and Norcal qualfiying mark in the pole vault with a season best 4.05m clearance.

The Panthers will travel to Sacramento City College on Friday, May 4 for the Northern California Trials. The men's 10,000 meter run will be contested as a final with the Panthers sending Ricky Esqueda, Williams Ordaz, Nick Merillana, Alfredo Mejia, Jr. and Jonathan Saldana to the line in an effort to secure the team's first points of the championship.