Women's Cross Country

Frosh Orozco Surprises at State Championship

Frosh Orozco Surprises at State Championship

The Hartnell College women's cross country team headed into the CCCAA State Championship with high hopes but it was apparent early there was still much to learn about championship racing. A bright spot for the Lady Panthers was the performance of freshman Lauryn Orozco. Orozco placed 30th overall in a lifetime personal best for any cross country distance over 3 miles with 19:31 over the 5km (3.1 miles) layout. The former Soledad High School runner had not placed as the top runner for the Panthers all season but ran aggressively from the start and lowered her mark from the State Preview Meet by 33 seconds. Orozco was the fourth highest placing Northern California female improving on her eighth place finish at that championship two weeks ago. Her time moves her to twelfth all-time at Woodward Park and will make her the early favorite for the Coast Conference and Northern California title and a potential All-American run as a sophomore.

Behind Orozco, sophomore Jocelyn Cervantes also jumped up from her sixth runner position at the Northern California Championship two weeks ago to second here. Cervantes, who had never run a cross country race under 20 minutes, crossed the line in 46th in a personal best 19:48. Cervantes was the highest placing freshman last fall and improved from 111th place. She also improved by 50 seconds dropping her time of 20:38 at the State Preview and was the seventh highest placing Norcal female. Cervantes only placed sixteenth at the regional meet two weeks ago. Freshman Monica Ruelas placed 54th overall eclipsing the 20 minutes barrier for the second consecutive time with her 19:59. Ruelas moved up one spot among regional competition placing tenth overall for Northern California women. Fellow freshman Maria Aceves improved her time at Woodward Park to 20:12 to place 64th at her first state championship. The remaining Lady Panthers were unable to improve from September. Arlene Diaz Leal (20:36) and Olivia Jimenez (21:22) completed the race while Yvette Tavarez withdrew in the final mile due to injury.

As a team, the Lady Panthers placed ninth overall and second for Northern California schools. This was improvement over last fall's twelfth place finish. This season included team victories at the Fresno Invitational, the first ever in school history, Beat the Heat, Las Positas, and Lou Vasquez Invitaitonals. They were also victorious at the Toro Park Invitational which served as the Norcal Preview Meet. The women won their fifth consecutive Coast Conference team title with Arlene DiazLeal becoming the fifth consecutive individual champion. The women's team moved up on spot at the Northern California Championship with the fourth lowest team score in regional championship history. Their 41 points established a new college record for the championship.