On a gloomy Friday morning, the Pasadena City College cross country team took their talents to the 68th annual Mt. SAC invitational where the greatest athletes in the area compete.
Over 23 schools showed up looking to achieve one goal: completing one of the most difficult courses in cross country.
“It is a tough course. It tests whether you have heart or not, it tests your will power. It’s easy to give up because there are many hills but it definitely challenges runners to see where they are at,” said freshman Denise Patterson.
Freshman standout Christina Elizadale, who has finished in the top 20 in the last three races, would be tested against the best runners in California.
The women were up, getting ready to take on the three mile course. It was not the usual group of 40 to 60 runners. There was a whopping 143 women who got out hard in the first 100 meters before the first turn into the course.
One mile into the course, the Lancers had to take on the first hills known as the switchbacks, which are hills back-to-back with different degrees of incline. The pack started to separate in these treacherous hills.
Elizadale kept on pace with the runners that were in front her. She was ahead of her personal record pace that was set last week at Riverside.
Just a little after the mile and a half mark there was another hill that the Lady Lancers had to endure. Called the “poopout hill,” it is a straight up climb to the top overlooking the whole course.
Elizadale was the first Lancer to take on the hill, going right up with no problem at all while passing competitors in her way.
“I went up the hills on my toes and I am good going up hills,” Elizadale said.
Freshman Veronica Mejia, along with Freshman Franceska Millanponce, seemed to have no problem against the hill, running right behind each other.
The Lancers were prepared for the last and final hill with just under a mile left. The final hill was the longest climb in the whole course, approximately 150 meters with a downhill sprint straight to the finish line.
Elizadale was the first Lancer to finish, setting another personal record for herself at 20:09 and averaging 6:43 per mile. She was a full 30 seconds ahead of personal record set last week at Riverside. She placed 37th overall out 143 women.
“My goal next week is to break 20 minutes. I got it laid out, I am confident though,” said Elizadale.
Mejia and Millanponce finished just about at the same time. They placed 53rd and 55th overall averaging 6 minutes and 55 seconds per mile.
The Lady Lancers had a top 10 finish placing ninth overall out of 18 teams with a team time of 1:47:04
It was now the men’s turn to take on the course.
At the first hill the men did not have any trouble whatsoever. Coach Armand Crespo prepared them very well, doing the Devil’s Gate Damn hill once a week. The switchbacks and the “poopout hills” had no effect on the Lancers.
It was now just about running for time for the men, who all kept a solid pace throughout the course.
Freshman Felipe Lorea came down the last hill with momentum. Lorea used his kick to his advantage, passing many of athletes with under 80 meters left to go. Lorea finished 55th with a time of 22:48 averaging, 5 minutes and 42 seconds per mile.
Freshman Alexis Arevalo, who did not finish the race at Riverside, finished 78th overall at 23:18. Sophomore Emilio Barragan-Steimer did not have the best race but finished 93rd overall at 23:50.
As a team, the men finished 14th out of 18 teams with a team time of 2 hours and 3 minutes.
“We are trying to qualify both teams to Southern California prelims. The women look a little bit stronger for that but we’re working on it with both teams,” said Crespo.
The Lancers will prepare for the South Coast Conference Prelims on Oct. 30 at Lunada Bay Park.