By Dylan King
The Riverside City College Tigers’ track and field team took part in the UCI Spring Break Invitational on March 18-19 to compete with several teams, including host UC Irvine at Anteater Stadium.
The RCC women’s team finished fifth overall in the event with 127 points, while the men finished second overall with 241 points. Mt. SAC won the invitational with 274 points.
The invitational provided the Tigers a platform to showcase their abilities against division 1 teams such as Pepperdine and Utah State. It was also an opportunity for the athletes to contribute commentary on how the season has revealed the realities of being a student-athlete.
Freshman Joshua Silva gave a gritty and determined performance, finishing second in the 1500-meter run with a time of 3 minutes, 54.41 seconds. Considered one of the best runners in the Orange Coast Conference, Silva has impressed teammates and coaches alike.
Coach Jim McCarron has the attention of his athletes and appreciates Silva’s approach to perfecting his craft as a runner and student.
“Josh has been phenomenal in class and in track,” McCarron said. “He’s overcome adversity, and he’s a young man who works his butt off and cares. He wants the best for himself and the program and he’s an absolute pleasure to coach. He’s only going to get better and he has a chance to be state champ this year.”
Freshman Anthony John Soriano placed second in the long jump with a distance of 7.13 meters and placed third in the high jump with a mark of 1.95 meters.
“Usually, I have someone to chase and go after,” Soriano said of his competition. “They just push me more to be the best. I’m not number one yet, but I know for a fact that I can get there.”
McCarron has been pleasantly surprised by Soriano’s abilities and he envisions a bright future for this athletically gifted young man.
“I think the guy that stands out the most (this season) is Anthony Soriano,” McCarron said. “He’s (ranked) No. 2 in both the high and long jumps in the state and is No. 5 in the triple jump. He’s been the biggest surprise out of everyone.”
“I set out goals and marks at the beginning of the year,” Soriano said. “I put in the work and I broke all the marks that I wanted to achieve. Honestly, I think I can get as far as I want to go. It’s a good feeling but I want to say that I am the best so I can move on to bigger and better things.”
Other top finishers were James Jones who threw a distance of 16.45 meters for his victory in the shot put, with Kyle Jenkins taking second with a distance of 15.25 meters.
The men’s 4×400 meter relay team (Albert Suara, Keeon Johnson, Kristopher Handy, Deondre Brooks) also took second in its event with 3:16.
While the RCC men were making their presence felt by competing at a high level, the women sent a message to competitors that they were a force to be reckoned with as well. Sophomore Kayla Wilson, who placed second in the 200-meter dash with a time of 25.1, is convinced her team is poised to make a serious run in the second half of the season.
“Looking at the team, we’ve done well so far,” Wilson said. “Our team looks pretty strong. I feel like we’re going to be hard to manage when it comes to (the) state (championships).”
Damien Smith, coach of the women’s team, shares Wilson’s sentiment in regards to future team success, but feels the team’s level of confidence could use a boost.
“(They’re) a very talented group,” Smith said. “They’re doing very well and they’re dropping (times) every week but when I watch them they (seem to) lack a little bit of confidence right now.”
Smith believes that hard work and encouragement are remedies for any signs of complacency.
“I don’t know why, they’re one of the best teams in the state. We talk about confidence (all the time). We always say, ‘respect your competition, but don’t fear them,’ that’s one of our mottos,” Smith said.
Whatever the women’s team may lack in confidence, they make up for with seamless team chemistry, according to Wilson. She along with her teammates (Sharidan Sharpe, Tiarah McDaniel, Aaliyah Goshen) took first place honors in the 4×100 relay with a time of 49.04.
Freshman Sharidan Sharpe won the women’s 100-meter dash in 12.54, the only freshman on the women’s team to win an event at the invitational. Sophomore Crystal Tejada also earned a top three finish in the women’s 1500-meter run with a time of 4:55.90.
Gaining meaningful experience as athletes is the primary goal of first year runners, and they look to their upperclassmen to provide veteran leadership while they learn the ropes. In the process, relationships have been formed to reinforce positive team morale.
“We have a lot of freshmen (this season), but we’ve clicked together since we (started practice) in the summer. We’ve (developed) a bond that’s unbreakable,” Wilson said. “Everyone gets along, there’s no arguing or fussing. Everyone is a big family here.”