By Tammy Wong
Cal Poly Pomona men’s and women’s cross country teams placed second at the California Collegiate Athletic Association Championships at Cal State San Bernardino on Saturday. This is the Broncos best finish since 2011.
According to the regional rankings, the CPP cross-country team placed fifth in the West Region and third in the CCAA. Overall, CPP is nationally ranked 21st.
Head coach Octavious Gillespie-Bennett expected a good race, and was impressed with the team’s work.
“We have pretty decent results,” said Gillespie-Bennett. “I hope we have a good race going on to nationals. Winning is a good prize.
“The whole team did a good job. Today’s meet gave us confidence. We are having a really good season.”
Second-year business administration student Mark Huizar finished second with a time of 25:16.4. Huizar crossed the line less than three seconds behind the race winner. Consequently, he achieved All-CCAA honors.
“This race is the best of my season,” said Huizar. “I didn’t run that well this season. It is a great confidence booster for me and my team.”
Huizar says he is also very proud of his teammates and they all worked hard to get to championships. The team’s main goal is to get to nationals, and they are more than ready for it.
Huizar says his biggest motivation is his team.
“We show that we are a strong team,” said Huizar. “We know we have been working hard. We know we are making to nationals, because nationals [is] where we belong.”
Huizar is confident that his team will do better this year and he is not nervous about going to nationals. He says that he treats the nationals like any other race.
Leading the pack on the men’s side was third-year biology student Francisco Gomez, and third-year electronics and computer engineering student John Dominguez. Gomez placed fifth with a time of 25:32.4. Dominguez was right behind Gomez with a time of 25:34.5 and placed sixth. Both Gomez and Dominguez qualified for All-CCAA accolades.
Both teams are very young, but also very strong.
On the women’s side, fourth-year kinesiology student Lizette Huerta captured a time of 22:35.7. Consequently, Huerta earned All-CCAA honors again. This is Huerta’s second earning this honor.
“I am not happy with my results, because I know I could do better,” said Huerta. “The race didn’t go as I planned. I wanted to win. I tell myself I could do it.”
Huerta says that the team is gearing up for nationals, and that they have trained really hard. However, Huerta is still looking for big improvements. She hopes to do better in future races. Despite that, Huerta also thinks her season is going well.
“This is my senior year so it is my last year to improve,” said Huerta. “I hope to do better in the future, because I worked really hard to get to where I am today.”
CPP’s cross-country teams will return to action for the National Collegiate Athletic Association West Region Championships on Nov. 22 in Billings, Montana.
Hayden Yi / The Poly Post
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