Women's Cross Country

Lady Panthers Push LA Harbor for CCCAA Title

Lady Panthers place second at the CCCAA Championship to match 2015 team finish.
Lady Panthers place second at the CCCAA Championship to match 2015 team finish.

The 2018 Hartnell College Lady Panthers cross country nearly traveled border to border in search of statewide respect. In September, they traveled to San Bernadino and experienced their first team loss of the season to Glendale College. The Lady Panthers rebounded with convincing victories in their next four meets all with scores less than 20 points. Even with setting the lowest team score at the Northern California Championship, they knew this year's CCCAA State Championship would be a battle with a program that had much less to learn and lead by the top returning individual in the state. L.A. Harbor College was the Southern California champion the previous week and was the only team the Lady Panthers had not faced and bested during the season. After 5km of racing at Woodward Park in Fresno, the Lady Panthers found they gave last year's fourth place team all they could handle but would have to settle for a program tying second place finish. The second place tied the highest in program history but did establish the lowest point total for Hartnell College at the state championship as the first five runners tallied just 99 points to L.A. Harbor with 72 points.

Sophomore Monica Ruelas may have enjoyed one of the most significant one year improvements in the state. Last year, Ruelas was 54th overall in 19:59. In 2018, she jumped all the way to sixth overall in 18:34 to earn CCCAA All-American honors. Ruelas also finished as the top Northern California finisher. Her mark of 18:34 and sixth place makes her the second best performer in program history trailing only Malena Grover who placed third overall in 18:06. Freshman Daniela Salazar has the chance to better both as she was one second and one place behind Ruelas in seventh and 18:35 also earning All-American honors. Those are the third best place and time performances in school history and the fastest by a true freshman bettering Malena Grover's 13th place 18:43 performance from 2014. Salazar was the second regional finisher demonstrating the pair had the potential to take those top two spots two weeks ago. Salazar will be one of three women that will return from the top seven and contend for next year's title which include Olivia Burton of Ventura College (18:18) and Sophia Cortina of Moorpark College (18:30). Sophomore Arlene Diaz Leal made up for last year's disappointing state championship with a fantastic 19th place finish in 19:05. Her place earns her CCCAA All-State recognition and her time was a Woodward Park personal best by 42 seconds. Freshman Isabelle Torres will return with Salazar in 2018 and will bring with her a 36th place finish and a course best of 19:40. Sophomore Maria Aceves regained her health just in time for this final race and finished in a course personal best 19:51. Nina Arias (20:07) and Nerina Campos (20:07) finished 55th and 56th with Campos returning in 2019.

This season was one for the record books for the Lady Panthers. They were victorious for the second year in a row at the Fresno Invitational, won the Toro Park and Pat Ryan Invitationals, scored 17 points  to win their sixth consecutive Coast Conference Championship, established a Northern California Championship record with 19 points in the victory, and became the only Northern California program since 1984 to place second at the CCCAA Championship more than once. With All-American and all-region Daniela Salazar, all-region Isabelle Torres and Nerina Campos, all-conference Elizabeth Cazares, Maria Hernandez, Shantal Martinez, and Alessandra Filitti returning, the Lady Panthers are primed for another attack on the CCCAA Championship 2019.