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Off to conference finals with an all-around dominance

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By Ricky Holmes / Asst. Sports Editor

By Ricky Holmes / Asst. Sports Editor

No one could stand in their way.

That’s the attitude that the Riverside City College track and field team had going into the Orange Empire Conference preliminaries on April 23 at Orange Coast College.

That attitude served the Tigers just right as they put on a display of athleticism that may very well guide them to a third straight state championship in May.

RCC dominated most of the day’s events.

From start to finish, the Tigers had at least one athlete place in the top five in their respective event while setting records along the way.

“What a great day. The guys really came together and team unity really increased on this team a lot after today. We had a lot of inspirational moments today,” coach Jim McCarron said.

The team started the day off right as Larissa Davis was able to pull away from the pack to win the women’s 3000 meter steeplechase.

Her teammate, Daniel Cooper, wasn’t as fortunate however.

Cooper, last year’s conference steeplechase champion, was running in second place, going through the hurdles, when he collided with the obstacle and fell into tenth place.

“He was favored to win this meet and he fell hard, ” McCarron said.

Instead of dwelling on the mistake, he showed some of the mental toughness and determination that has guided the team and was able to finish third despite the fall and qualified for the finals to be held on April 30.

The field events also went well for RCC as Austin Elmore took second place in the hammer throw and Tyler Wallace took third in the men’s pole vault with a jump of 15 feet even.

The rest of the day was a field day for the track team as they dominated the competition.

“In the 100, we had six guys qualify, and the 200, we had five. What that means is that five out of the nine runners in next week’s competition will be from our school,” McCarron said.

In the 100 meter event, RCC’s Duke Greer finished first in his heat with a team best time of 11.22, just milliseconds ahead of the other five qualifiers.

Marquis Pilchur became the No. 1 qualifier for the 200 meter event final as he sprinted to the finish with a time of 22.15.

Djuan Lee, Khurtis Henry and Tommy Curry finished 1-2-3 in their 200 meter heat to qualify for the finals and give the Tigers the safety in numbers that they desire.

In the 1500 meter event, Alberto Camacho breezed past the other runners to post an impressive time of 4:07:46 and steeplechase winner Larissa Davis finished third in her heat at 5:02:25 to qualify.

After a day already filled with personal records being set, the long jump competition showed why RCC track and field is a force to be reckoned with in the state.

“The long jump was phenomenal. We went 1-3 in the long jump,” McCarron said. “It was the best long jump in the history of the conference.”

The intensity of the competition brought fans and teammates alike as they saw numbers being put up that are not usually seen in community college meets.

As the fans gathered, Tigers teammates cheered on Charles Smith, Damien Ephraim and Chris Bernard as they battled through the fierce competition.

Ephraim and Bernard jumped their way into the top five with impressive jumps of over 24 feet but even those numbers couldn’t top Charles Smith.

A Fullerton College long jumper raised the bar near the end of the event by jumping 25 feet and one inch. That incredible mark didn’t seem to deter Smith though.

With teammates and rivals cheering him on, Smith set the conference record and became the second best long jumper in school history with his leap of 25 feet and six inches.

With the dominating performance at the preliminaries, the Tigers will now go onto the finals with the odds stacked in their favor and the quest for a third straight state championship on their minds.

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