Leopards make a run at conference

Campus Times
October 24, 2003


by Jonathan Corral
Assistant Editor

With championship time around the corner, questions begin to arise about teams' ranking in their respective conferences and where they stand in the grand scheme of things. What better way to find out than going head-to-head with the competition.

In a Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Multi-Dual meet, which took place Oct.17 at Prado Park in Chino, the Leopard cross country squad found out just where they stand in the conference standings.

Both the men and women fared well in tough races, which were run in 90-plus degree heat on an extremely difficult course.

"The conditions were horrible," head coach Pat Widolff said. "We usually practice in the morning, and the heat threw us off a little."

On the men's side, the Leopards were paced by the trio of Frank Huerta, Kelly Wood and Cecilio Barrera, who finished within 11 seconds of each other, leading the team to a 3-4 dual meet record, easily outrunning Cal Lutheran, Whittier and Redlands.

Huerta finished with a time of 28:55 in the five-mile race. Right on his tail was Wood, who clocked 29:03, which was good enough for 19th place. Finishing the triple threat was Barrera, who stopped the clocked in 29:06 for 20th place.

The race was won by freshman standout Dan Hayman, from Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, with a time of 26:22, making himself the odds on favorite for the conference title in two weeks.

The team competition was easily won by Pomona-Pitzer, who out-classed the entire field by placing their first five scoring runners in the top 10. The Sagehens finished with a perfect 7-0 mark in the meet.

Teams that beat the Leopard squad were Caltech, Occidental, Claremont-Mudd-Scripps and Pomona-Pitzer. The defeats to Caltech and Occidental were by the slimmest of margins, which bodes well for the Leopards and their preparation for when the same teams square off again.

"It would have been a different race if our first two runners would have run to their potential," Widolff said. "As a team we would have definitely finished third."

Other finishers for the men's squad were freshman Efrain Partida, finishing in 29:56 for 33rd place, Angel Guerrero (31:30), Derek Chacon (33:18) and rounding out the men's squad was Jose Luis Chavez with a 37:06 clocking.

The women harriers did not fair as well, as they were without their No. 1 runner, Alexis Candelaria, due to a knee injury.

"She has been nursing an injury, so we decided to hold her out of this meet," Widolff said. "But she will be back for the conference race."

Picking up the slack for the Leopards was senior Gloria Gomez, who paced the Leopards with an outstanding top-10 showing, finishing exactly that ­ 10th ­ with a time of 24:41 in the four-mile course.

"Gloria ran extremely well, despite the horrible conditions," Widolff said. "For her to finish 10th, in this tough conference, is outstanding."

Also coming through in the clutch was freshman newcomer Jessica Varney, who had a breakthrough performance, finishing 32nd with a personal best time of 26:50.

"It was really hot, and we are not used to the heat," said Varney. "But I think I ran pretty well."

The race was won by senior Angela Jacquez, from Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, with a time of 22:53 ­ almost a minute faster than her next closet competitor. Claremont also took top team honors by finishing the meet with a perfect 7-0 record.

The Leopards finished with an overall record of 1-6 in the race, beating only Caltech.

Other Leopard finishers, who ran with everything they had, include Nicole Knight (30:01), Kelby-Lynne Butlerweck (30:19), Lisandra Gonzalez (31:18) and Susan Arden (36:18).

Leopard cross country will be back in action in two weeks with SCIAC conference championships to be held Nov. 1 at La Mirada Park.