The 2019 Hartnell College men's cross country team is determined to improve on last year's regional runner-up eleventh place team finish at the CCCAA State Championship, the lowest in over four years. The team started this campaign with a perfect score victory at the Beat the Heat meet hosted by College of the Redwoods in Eureka. The Panthers traveled nearly 400 miles to start their season and were rewarded with not just the team victory with a perfect score 15 points, but sophomore Jesus Avalos took the individual win as well.
The Beat the Heat meet is the brain child of College of the Redwoods Head Coach Reed Elmore. When most meets around the state are faced with warm summer temperatures, the Eureka-Arcatea area enjoys comfortable 70 degree temps. With a course that includes a section called "The Mud Bog" and a hill called "The Wall" just before the finish, times were expectedly slow. Hartnell sophomore Jesus Avalos let College of the Siskiyous runner Blake Chitwood lead over half the race before assuming the lead. A pack of three freshmen and a sophomore pursued Chitwood as well but ran out of real estate in their attempt to catch him. Avalos cross the finish line on the Redwoods track first in 22:24. Freshman Rigo Garcia was third (22:36) just five seconds behind Chitwood. Luis Mendoza (22:47), Elliot Ruiz (22:47) and Francisco Maciel (22:49) completed the Panther scoring. Freshmen Jiovanni Garcia and Alexis Ojeda would represent the Panthers as the sixth and seventh runners. The Panthers were without key runners Isaac Gensel, Juan Gutierrez III, and Johnny Olivares but should have all three ready for the Fresno Invitational on Saturday, September 7th.