By Daniel Hernandez
It’s going to be an uphill battle for the Riverside track and field teams if they want to earn a spot on the podium at the state championships.
And it looks like their biggest competition, the Mt. San Antonio College Mounties, has a leg up.
It’s a match-up that has been building up since the two teams met at the Tiger’s first home meet of the season. Athletes from both colleges treated the meet like a championship despite it only being the second event of the season. But by the end of the night, both the Mounties’ men and women dominated and earned first place in team scoring.
The two teams have only met a couple of times after that initial match-up. One of the most significant being at the Mt. SAC Relays on April 9.
Now, RCC will compete in the California Community College Athletics Association (CCCAA) State Championships at Mt. SAC’s Hilmer Lodge Stadium from May 20-21. The men’s team will enter as the defending state champions while the women’s team placed second last season.
The Tigers are coming off of a strong showing at the Orange Empire Conference (OEC) Finals where both teams took first place in team scoring. It was an expected win for the Tigers as they have won the conference title every year since 2007 — excluding the pandemic years where the team did not have competition.
But the conference win is overshadowed by the Southern California Regional Finals results. The men and women’s team placed third while both Mounties’ teams dominated and took first. The men’s team score reached 263.5, a 99.5 difference between second place. The women’s team scored 148 and had a 61-point difference over second.
A Mounties runner could be seen near the top of the leaderboard of almost every event. The biggest mismatch was the men’s 100 and 200 events where Mt. SAC held first, second and third in both races.
However, there were still some stand out moments throughout the Southern California finals that could prove to be an exciting match-up come the CCCAA State Championships.
On the women’s side, sprinters Zoe Ewell and Hailey Hunt have an opportunity to take home the gold and silver in the 100-meters. Amari Weatherford, a Mt. SAC sprinter, comes in with the fastest 100 time of 11.77 but placed second in the preliminary race to Hunt and second to Ewell in the finals.
These two sprinters are also on the 1600-meter relay team and look to be the front-runners to win the event.
Alejandra Rosales, an RCC thrower, is also poised to sweep the competition in shot-put and discus but could face some serious competition against Mt. SAC thrower Sahira Lepes Sanchez in hammer throw. Sanchez was only two feet away from reaching Rosales’ length in the Southern California finals. However, neither will be close to reaching the top spot as Ivy Doung, a Fresno City College thrower, can throw up to 30 feet farther.
On the men’s side, look to Joshua Hornsby to put on an incredible display in 110 hurdles. Hornsby finished his race in 14.13 seconds while second place came in at .44 of a second after.
The 800-meter event looks to be one of the most evenly matched events of the championships, despite Mt. SAC’s Jonathan Pfeiffer winning the event in the finals. RCC’s Gonzalo Sanchez and Kyle Reden were only .40 of a second behind the leader. The winner will be decided on who has the most strength for the final kick as they enter the final 200-meters.
Finding that extra gear will be key to staying competitive with Mt. SAC as it will take more than just a couple of wins to secure a team victory.