Panther Men Make It Eight Titles in a Row

Panther Men Make It Eight Titles in a Row

With the Lady Panthers having secured their fifth straight Coast Conference team championship, the men looked to extend their streak to eight in a row. The trails of Toro Park are beginning to feel like home as the Panthers competed for that title just a few miles from campus. Lead by nine runners in the top 15, the men notched another team title that has not seen another Coast Conference team win since 2009. In addition, the Panthers had the overall winner for the fifth consecutive year.

Freshman Ricky Esqueda has missed the company of his fellow front running teammate Patrick Olson in recent weeks but still managed to run away easily with the title by 24 seconds. Despite an early race challenge from Monterey Peninsula College runner Roman Munoz, Esqueda surged just before the 2 mile mark and kept extending his advantage all the way to the finish line. Esqueda improved on his Toro Park course best lowering it from 20:50 three weeks ago to 20:39 making him one of the rare Panthers to dip under 20:40. He sits eighth all-time and just 10 seconds away from moving into the second best spot all-time. Sophomore Sergio Coronel has gone from cross country unknown to one of the best in the state in one year. Last fall, he placed 21st at the Coast Conference championship but has placed not placed that low in any meet so far this fall regardless of size. Coronel placed second to teammate Esqueda once again passing Munoz of MPC but this time at 600 meters from the finish. Coronel recorded a time of 21:03 but has a faster of 21:00 from the Norcal Preview Meet. Fellow sophomore Christian Aldape achieved one of his goals of besting an additional Norcal and Coast Conference foe as he starts his climb through the regional rankings. Aldape placed fifth in a new personal best 21:19 behind his teammates, Munoz, and CCCAA All-American David Frisbie. Aldape was the lone freshman to earn all-conference honors last fall but this year the team has enjoyed a solid balance of youthful energy and veteran experience. The remaining placers for the Panthers reflected this balance with sophomore Jaime Garcia (21:46) placing eighth, sophomore Jonathan Saldana (21:49) ninth, freshman Alfredo Mejia, Jr. tenth (21:50), freshman Luis Perez eleventh (22:11) and freshman Jacob Niles (22:13) in thirteenth. In addition, freshman Jaime Martinez placed fifteenth giving the Panthers six potential top 14 finishers next fall. Christian Aldape and Jaime Garcia moved up nine spots and Saldana six spots from their freshman campaign.

The Panthers scored 25 points despite being without Las Positas Invitational and Lou Vasquez Invitational winner Patrick Olson who will look to return to action potentially as early as the Northern California Championship. The Panthers will enter the regional championship with the opportunity to repeat as team winners for the first time since the 2005 and 2006 titles. Conincidentally, the 2006 title was won at Toro Park the site of this year's championship. The Panthers will also look to repeat a top two individual finish that began last year with Jorge Sanchez and Edgar Bonilla enjoying the top two spots. The men's championship 4 mile will take place at 3:00pm on Friday, November 3rd at Toro Park.