Bonilla Wins Mt. SAC Invite, Men Second Overall

Bonilla Wins Mt. SAC Invite, Men Second Overall
It is a long drive down the I-5 Freeway from Hartnell College to Mount San Antonio College in Walnut for the historic Mt. SAC Invitational. Billed as "the largest cross country invitational on the planet" the meet spans three days with the community colleges and middle/elementary schools competing on the first weekend of competition. Hartnell College has made the trip to Southern California seven times in school history and has returned to Salinas now three times with the individual men's champion. This year it would be Panther sophomore Edgar Bonilla (King City HS) turn to stand on top of the podium. A sixth place overall finisher last year, Bonilla worked patiently with teammate Jorge Sanchez (Alvarez HS) through the famed hills of "Switchbacks", "Poop-out", and "Reservoir Hill" to finally take the lead in the final 800 meters. His winning time of 20:49 is the second best in school history and Bonilla now joins two former state champions Daniel Tapia and Diego Leon to cross this finish as the first overall runner. Sanchez timed his final move well jumping from tenth place as a frosh last year to third overall (20:58) and 9 seconds behind his teammate at the finish. He joins Diego Leon, Bonilla, and Michel Ramirez as the only other Panthers to eclipse the 21:00 barrier on this challenging course. Mario Perez, Jr.(Kimball HS-Tracy, CA) placed eleventh (21:32) and Oscar Mora, Jr. (NMC HS) (21:38) fourteenth to give the visiting Panthers four runners in the top 14. Angel Mejia (22:04), Williams Ordaz (22:07), and Andrew Martinez (22:09) completed the top seven for the Panthers who placed second overall as a team. They were locked in a tight team battle with host and top state ranked Mt. SAC for the entire race with several swings back and forth as to which team was winning. The Mounties would ultimately hold on to win on their home course 27 to 48 points with the third place team over 100 points behind the two. 

Lady Panther Yvette Felix (Anzar HS) raced this meet last year finishing as the sixth female for Hartnell College but in this year's edition she proved she is becoming one of the best individuals in the state with just five weeks til the state championship. Felix, who prepped at small Anzar High School in San Juan Bautista, ran among the leads from the beginning of the race and eventually placed sixth overall in 18:50. She was just two seconds from the top 5 overall. The winner of the race was top Norcal runner Alyssa Block of College of the Sequoias in 18:16. Felix now becomes the fourth best Lady Panther to complete the course at Mt. SAC trailing all-american Malena Grover, Norcal 3k steeplechase record holder Victoria Alcala, and former 4:42 1500m runner Amy Johnston. Sophomore Beatriz Duarte (Watsonville HS) cracked the top 30 with her 29th place finish in 19:55. She was 21:34 last fall in her first run on the course showing amazing improvement over the course of a year. Freshmen trio Leslie Oseguera (21:08), Tanya Campos (21:14), and Jocelyn Cervantes (21:14) completed the team scoring with the Lady Panthers finishing a respectable fifth overall and and easily ahead of Norcal #3 ranked Sacramento City College.

For full Mt. SAC Invitational results: http://events.mtsac.edu/ccinvite/results2016.htm#CommunityCollegeDivisionResults

Hartnell College will look to win a seventh consecutive men's Coast Conference title and the women their fourth consecutive on Friday, October 28th at the Crystal Springs, Belmont. Edgar Bonilla is favored to repeat his overall win with Yvette Felix chasing her first title as the top returner from last year's championship.