Four Top Five Finishes for Panther Ladies at Norcal Finals

Four Top Five Finishes for Panther Ladies at Norcal Finals
It was a mild surprise the Hartnell College men's track & field team held a second place position heading into Saturday's Northern California Championship but with each passing event it was clear that the Panthers were in deed the second best program in the region. Powered by an army of distance runners spread through all four events on Saturday and help from Thomas Salao in the pole vault and javelin, the Panther men tallied 104 points to earn a regional trophy for the first time since 2008. The Hartnell men's team has placed in the top three in the regional championship just eight times in school history with this year's finish matching the 2008  second place performance. Teams in 1995, 1996, and 2000 hold the record for highest placing with regional titles.

The Panthers amassed 32 team points from the decathlon and 10,000 meter finals heading in the first event Saturday, the men's 3000 meter steeplechase. Sophomore Andrew Martinez placed third (9:47.01), his second best time of the season, an improvement of five places from 2016. Freshman Jonathan Saldana was fifth (9:53.35) and sophomore Jose Ruiz sixth (9:56.12) to add 13 points to the team score. Former King City High School Mustangs Eduardo Orozco and Edgar Bonilla provided the biggest surge in points with a top two finish in the 1500 meter run. They finished nearly at the same time with Orozco claiming the title in 3:56.28 and Bonilla a half step behind in 3:56.30. The Panthers received nice surprises from Patrick Olson (3:59.78) in fourth and Sergio Coronel (4:01.47) in sixth. Jorge Sanchez held on for an important scoring eighth place (4:04.20). Mario Perez, Jr. did the early pace work to set up his teammates and was rewarded with a lifetime best 4:05.53 for ninth. All told, the Panthers amassed 27 points of the available 39 in the event. Orozco added to the total with a runner-up finish in the 800 meters (1:55.35). He will advance to the CCCAA State Championship next weekend in both the 1500 meter and 800 meter runs. Jorge Sanchez and Oscar Mora, Jr. provided the final support to the second place team finish by placing first and third in the 5000 meter run and adding a final 16 points to the team's total. Sanchez becomes another Hartnell Panther to complete the 5000 and 10,000 meter championship double joining Daniel Tapia and Diego Leon, both state champions in both events. Sanchez will look to achieve the same feat next weekend in Sacramento. Sanchez won the 12.5 lap race by 9 seconds in 15:12.79. Mora used a final lap push to move up to third in 15:32.48. Mario Perez, Jr. (15:42.15) and Angel Mejia, Jr. (15:44.46)  both ended with season bests but were in non-scoring ninth and tenth positions. Sophomore Thomas Salao placed fifth in the pole vault final with a lifetime best 13-9.75. He was also seventh in the javelin with 164-8. Freshman Joziah Garcia placed seventh in the 400 meters (49.95).

For the Lady Panthers, sophomore Yvette Felix added two more scoring events to her total. Already a second place finisher in the 10,000 meter final, Felix finally dipped under the five minute barrier in the 1500 meter barrier (4:59.96). Her time was good for sixth overall in the final. Felix also placed third in the 5000 meter run (18:55.85). Beatriz Duarte (19:57.54) and Jocelyn Cervantes (19:57.54) finished tenth and eleventh. Joining Felix at the CCCAA State Championship will be freshman Yvette Tavarez. Only the third place finisher at the Coast Conference Championship in the 3000 meter steeplechase, Tavarez lowered her season best by an outstanding 34 seconds to surprise with a third place finish in 12:16.55. She bested conference runner-up Sierra Brenciaglia of DeAnza College by 7 seconds to advance beyond the regional meet. Freshman Olivia Jimenez placed a surprise fourth in the 800 meters with sophomore transfer Elizabeth Hernandez improving to seventh this season. Freshman Haley Romero placed fifth in the jump (17-7.50) and will advance and take a season best 18-3 into the state championship. The women's 4x400 relay team posted their best time of the season in 4:10.96. The mark moves them to 14th all-time with three returners coming back in 2018. Sophomore Chelsea Andrade picked up two eighth place finishes in the hammer and discus throws to help the team. As a team, the Lady Panthers landed in sixth overall with 47 points.

The Panthers will seven men and four women to the CCCAA State Championship in Sacramento on May 19-20.