By Peter Gibbs
With Olympic athletes and half of the PAC-12 conference on hand, multiple runners, jumpers and throwers set personal bests for the Riverside City College track and field team.
The field at the Aztec Invite in San Diego had one community college team: RCC. Despite the competition, sophomore jumper Darius Hill stood out for the Tigers with his performance in the long jump by winning the event in his first attempt back from an injury.
“Long jump was a good day. I came out and competed,” Hill said. “I had a groin injury and we were scared of the running. It’s gone now so I’m getting back into it.”
Hill finished the day with a distance of 7.63 meters (25 feet, one-half inch), beating other competitors from schools like Oregon, USC and Washington.
Another Tiger who excelled was sophomore distance runner Kyle Reden.
Not only did Reden run in the fastest heat of the 800 meter race, but he set a personal best for the event with a time of 1 minute, 52 seconds. That time is about two whole seconds faster than his previous record.
“I felt like I was going to PR. We knew it was going to be a fast race,” Reden said. “It’s just a race at the end of the day. If I believe I can beat these guys, then I’m going to do great things.”
While most Tigers elevated their game because of the competition, nerves got the better of others.
The top sprinter for the women’s team, sophomore Zoe Ewell, suffered a false start in her 100 meter race. She didn’t get the chance to prove her talent.
“I get so excited sometimes and I turn into a little jackrabbit,” Ewell said. “I was disappointed in myself because it’s a really big meet. I wanted to show out and do good.”
Ewell redeemed herself in the 200 meter race by switching up her mentality.
“I really relaxed in the blocks,” she said. “I was going to let the gun send me off.”
Being in community college, plenty of RCC track and field members know that the experience is invaluable and running with top tier competition will help them grow throughout the year.
“I believe I can go faster,” Reden said.
Overall the men’s team placed sixth out of 25 eligible teams while the women placed 21st out of 27.
Other notable performances came in the distance races. Freshman Ernesto Ruiz beat his personal best in the 3000 meter steeplechase with a time of 9 minutes and 41 seconds, 10 seconds better than his previous mark. Meanwhile sophomore Gavyn Condit finished fourth in the men’s 5000 meter race.
In the short distance events, the men’s 1600 meter relay team placed fifth and sophomore Joshua Horsnby also placed fifth in the 110 meter hurdles with a season best time of 13.96 seconds.
Riverside heads back to San Diego for its next meet, the Arnie Robinson Invitational, on March 31. The competition will consist of other community colleges and the Tigers will look to showcase their ability to be a top community college team in California.