By Jessica Staub
By Jessica Staub
Both the men’s and women’s cross country teams are fighting hard to be the best this year.
At the Mt. San Antonio College Invitational on Oct. 14, the women’s team came in second and with its best finish this season, the men’s team came in third.
The women’s team won the Bakersfield meet on Sept. 30 with 51 points. The next closest team was Cuesta with 68 points. Coach Mike Barbee is pleased with how his team is shaping up.
“The girls work hard and continue to improve,” Barbee said. “We had an off week where the girls could really push themselves and gain confidence.”
Calling her his most improved runner this year, Barbee says that “Cristy Hoover’s talents have just exploded this year.”
“She is our ‘distance specialist,'” Barbee said. “She is truly a distance runner. She runs longer races than she did in high school and she runs the 10,000 meter race during track season.”
Formerly of Poloma Valley High School, Hoover is also glad to be running at the college level.
“I had a new coach every season in high school,” Hoover said. “In high school you would just run alone. It wasn’t much of a team, but here, everyone pushes me to do better.”
Though she recognizes her improvements from the last few years, she still expects more.
“I’m still improving to get where I need to be,” Hoover said. “This team is the one who has benefited me the most.”
Another name that shines on this team is Ana Mendoza. A freshman from Rancho Verde, Mendoza was scouted by Barbee when she was a junior. Happy with the team’s success and location, she decided to join the team.
“I feel a lot stronger,” Mendoza said. “I hope I am getting faster, but it is hard to tell because the races are longer than in high school.”
The other women are benefiting from having Mendoza on the team. Barbee is glad that there are other good runners on the team who can push her and be pushed by her speed.
“In high school she trained with the boys because she was so fast,” Barbee said. “Now that she is here, she is placed with other girls who can run almost as fast as her. She enjoys pushing the team to do better.””In high school it is very individual,” Mendoza said. “At RCC, the team is close to each other. It is very fun. I have never been on a team like this one.”
Both of the women’s performances on Oct. 14, helped contribute to the team’s second place finish at the Mt. San Antonio College Invitational.Flipping to the men’s half of the cross country team, coach Scott Parks is happy with the success of his men’s team.
“Right now we are in a good position to be in the top 10 in the state,” Parks said. “The So Cal Preview features all the teams we compete against and we finished sixth place there.”
Leading the team this year on the men’s side is Cyrus Bastani. Coming from an unsuccessful season at Cal State Fullerton, Bastani was looking for a change. While there, he ran into some bad coaching and injuries.
But, in addition to having his times improve tremendously, Bastani is now the best runner on the team.
“I liked Cal State Fullerton, but not its program,” Bastani said. “I came here because I had coach Mike Barbee in high school.”
Becuase Bastani was too humble to talk about himself further, teammate Brian Harris gave a few extra comments for him.
“Cyrus is great,” Harris said. “He’s the No.1 runner on the team.”Parks is also happy with his improvements and contributions to the team. Bastani finished first for RCC and 12th place at the Bakersfield meet on Sept. 30.
Just a few days after his high school graduation, Mercado was in a 13-week long boot camp. He is currently serving under Unit 4 LAR Battalion. He first heard about RCC’s team through Harris. Now he is here to get back into shape.
Mercado finished 2 place for RCC and 19 place at Bakersfield on Sept. 30.