Although ranked as high as the top spot in the CCCAA early in the season, the Lady Panthers knew all along the path to a Northern California title would run through the Lady Giants of College of the Sequoias. The Sequioas team was comprised of 2016 State runner-up Alyssa Block along with top 30 state performers Jewel Jasso and Elizabeth Sartuche. With five freshmen in the top seven and two sophomores who placed outside the top 30 in the Northern CA regional as freshmen, the challenge was to develop as much team chemistry and fitness as quickly as possible before this year's regional championship at Toro Park. The Lady Panthers had been victorious at the Norcal Preview Meet on October 6 but only bested the Lady Giants 37 to 41 points but had run sophomore Yvette Tavarez who had placed fourth overall that day. On Friday, Tavarez sat out allowing an injury to heal in time for the state championship and leaving a regional title bid up to her seven teammates.
In the race, it was apparent it would be a COS and Hartnell dual meet as at 1.6 miles the Lady Giants had four of the top five runners leading the race. Hartnell attempted to counter packing all seven ladies into the top 14 overall. Only Arlene Diaz Leal, Maria Aceves, and Lauryn Orozco were able to make a significant dent in the huge advantage the Lady Giants had at more than half way into the race. COS lead 26 to 42 heading into the more challenging hilly portion of the course. Dial Leal would be able to get herself to the fouth place spot by the finish line but could not real in Jasso of COS in time. Aceves too made a bid to catch COS freshman Antonia Lozano but came up 4 seconds short. Orozco caught a tiring Sartuche to nab eighth overall. Freshman Monica Ruelas had only placed eighth at the Coast Conference meet but raced fiecely to place eleventh overall and earn her first all-region honors. She was followed by first time all-region recipient Olivia Jimenez in twelfth. Sophomores Jocelyn Cervantes narrowly missed all-region by 3 seconds and two spots and Leslie Oseguera placed an improved 22nd compared to her first regional meet last year. Diaz Leal's 19:30 at Toro Park moves her to ninth best all-time in school history with Aceves (19:37) fourteenth and Orozco (19:45) sixteenth. Ruelas (19:54) and Jimenez (19:55) enjoyed their first time ever under 20:00 at Toro Park after four years of high school racing there. Cervantes lowered her Coast Conference time from 20:35 to 20:04 in her final run at Toro Park. Oseguera missed the Norcal Preview Meet with an injury but improved on her Coast Conference time of 20:39 and lowering it to 20:22.
Dyestatcal Runnerspace Women's Team Interview
The Lady Panthers will head into the CCCAA State Championship ranked second in Northern California and potentially fourth in the state. In 2016, the ladies placed twelfth overall after winning the Coast Conference title and placing third at the Northern California Championship. The Lady Panthers will be looking for their third top 5 team finish in four years. The women's championship 3 mile will be at 10:00am at Woodward Park in Fresno.