Sean Egle / Staff Writer
Riverside City College men’s cross country team showed why it is ranked No. 4 in state by finishing third overall at the Southern California finals on Nov. 3 at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa.
Sophomore John Guzman, fresh from the Orange Empire Conference finals victory the week prior, took third place overall with a time of 20:00.69.
Tigers coach Jim McCarron heaped praise on the team’s performance.
“I was pleased with how the guys ran. We have two weeks to tune them up and fight for a spot on the podium at the state meet,” McCarron said.
The team’s third place finish is the best the Tigers have done in 14 years.
In 1998, RCC went on to win the state title, a feat McCarron and the athletes like sophomore Danny Ybarra are hoping to accomplish this season.
Ybarra finished the race with a time of 20:52.80 finishing 25 out of 197 runners.
McCarron was thrilled for Ybarra’s performance.
“I was really proud of Danny (Ybarra) because he was able to break the 21 minute barrier. He will play a key role for the team at state,” McCarron said.
During the race runners from LA Trade Tech, Cerritos College, and San Diego Mesa along with Guzman were in contention to win the race.
In the final 200 meters, LA Trade Tech’s Omar Cortes out sprinted Cerritos runner Munir Kahssay to take the win.
RCC finished ahead of Orange Coast College for the second consecutive week, after narrowly edging them out for the Orange Empire Conference title victory. Orange Coast Collee finished fifth out of the 28 teams that competed.
Both colleges from the conference will face off again, at the state championships on Nov. 17 in Woodward Park, Fresno.
There is no clear favorite to win the state title for the men’s race. Several teams competing have a history of success at the state championships.
Guzman was awarded Orange Empire Conference’s Men’s Cross Country Athlete of the Year while McCarron was awarded the Cross Country Coach of the Year award. Ybarra and teammates Luis Gutierrez and Brandon Johnson all earned first team All-Conference.
“I am proud of every student-athlete on this team,” McCarron said. “They have worked hard for the past five months to put the Tigers in position to have the best state meet finish in 18 years.”