By Dylan King
Riverside City College secured a decisive win against Orange Coast College in an Orange Empire Conference track and field meet on March 25, winning 110-42. The men also won in convincing fashion, 107-50.
As the teams hit their midseason stride, strong relationships have fostered winning results. Sustained intensity has been a progressive theme this season, allowing athletes to consider how their performances have impacted team morale and leadership.
Freshman Anthony John Soriano delivered one of his best overall performances yet again, taking first place in the long jump with a distance of 7.02 meters. He also won the triple jump (14.20m) and high jump (1.95m).
Soriano’s ascent to state recognition is buffered by organic team chemistry created through mutual competitive desire and effort. This formula has translated a caucus of individual personalities into a collectively well oiled machine that has performed above expectations so far this season, as evidenced by the Tigers’ winning 17 of 18 possible events against Orange Coast.
“Our jump squad has an opportunity to do big things at the state (championships),” Soriano said of his teammates. “We have four triple jumpers in the top 10 for state (rankings), all (jumps) over 14 meters, and two high jumpers in the top five. Everything looks good for us, I think our season has turned out better than we expected it to be.”
Sophomore Christopher Brown won his two individual events in the discus and hammer throw (44.96 and 51.55m), while sophomore Ashley Santos took first place in the women’s hammer throw (41.57m).
Freshmen Natalie Vaughn (19 minutes,43.46 seconds) and Michael Simpson (15:53.46) had victories in their respective 5000-meter run. Simpson bested second place finisher Austin Chavez (16:24.52) by more than 30 seconds.
The Tigers were firing on all cylinders in March, notching victories against Division I opponents like Pepperdine and UC Riverside in nonconference action, while placing second overall in the UCI Spring Break Invitational.
Experienced veteran leadership is a characteristic that vividly describes the nucleus of the RCC track program this season, with freshmen displaying tenacious exertion and strategic execution in the process, something that sophomore Aaliyah Goshen said brings the team together.
“I think we’re pretty close as a team,” Goshen said. “The chemistry is pretty good, (because) we don’t have a lot of separation of groups. We have a smaller team than we did last year and previous years, so I think that helps bring us closer.”
Of the first year athletes, Tiarah McDaniel has risen to the top in her field, increasing her skill and capacity as a runner by taking first place in all three of her events. She won the women’s 100-meter dash in 12.26, the 200 in 24.93, and the 4×100 meter relay with sophomores Sharidan Sharpe, Kayla Wilson, and Aaliyah Goshen with a time of 48.08.
It was McDaniel’s first clean sweep of the season in her events.
“(Friday) was my first time (winning all three), it was amazing,” McDaniel said.
Women’s head coach Damien Smith has championed McDaniel’s prowess as an intense athlete and competitor.
“Tiarah is really special because she is involved in (both) sand volleyball and track and field,” Smith said. “I have to be really careful with some of the workouts that I give her when she comes from volleyball practice. I have to give her enough (practice) to make her better, but not enough to wear her out.”
McDaniel praised Smith for his expertise in maximizing her athletic output without compromising her effectiveness on game day.
“Coach Smith is the best coach ever, he’s really nice,” McDaniel said. “He works with my schedule, because he knows that I’m on the sand volleyball team and he works around that really well.”
While the coaches emphasize high energy and effort on the field, men’s head coach Jim McCarron also stresses equal importance of academics and class activity.
“The expectations are always high for them to be great student-athletes, to focus in the classroom, and do well on the track and on the field,” McCarron said. “When I say do well, I mean (for them) to (perform) to the best of their ability and compete every time they come out for a track meet.”
With track season in full swing, coach McCarron said his goal is to have athletes do their best in and outside the track program. With his energetic enthusiasm and support, student-athletes are given the opportunity to make positive results a reality.
Their next meet is against Cerritos College at Norwalk in the Cerritos Invitational on April 5-9.