By Christian Cataldo
The Cal Poly Pomona cross country team excelled this weekend during its annual Pack the Course event at the Pomona-Pitzer Track and Field Invitational. Both the men’s and women’s teams placed first in their respective events.
Junior Mark Huizar and senior Francisco Gomez set the tone for the Broncos, placing first and second in the 8000-meter race.
Huizar, the Broncos’ 8000-meter record holder, finished with a time of 24:52.74 and Gomez finished behind him with a time of 24:52.83.
The roaring CPP crowd played a factor in the Broncos’ performance by providing the team with motivation.
“We’re not used to getting that kind of support, so when [at] every single turn [and] [at] every single corner we hear people cheering, it helps us out a lot, [and] it gives us more motivation to keep going,” said Huizar.
“The more people we have out there, the more motivation [the athletes] have out there,” said Head Coach Octavious Gillespie-Bennett.
Joining Huizar and Gomez in the top 10 were sophomore Ruben Dominguez, who finished fourth; senior Teague Senninger, who finished sixth; sophomore Christian Rodriguez, who finished ninth; and William Ebiner, who finished tenth.
Gillespie-Bennett commented on having Huizar and Gomez as strong leaders on the team.
“Those guys are consistent, they’re solid, they’re both our team leaders, they lead by example, and they’re doing a great job,” said Gillespie-Bennett. “We know we can always count on them when the times get tough.”
The women’s team also had a great showing, finishing first in its event. Senior Marissa Nickles led the Broncos, finishing third with a time of 21:50.12.
“It was amazing to have all the school spirit out there,” said Nickles. “It really helped us. It gave us that extra edge to compete against the other girls, [and we] wanted to make our school proud.”
CPP finished the event with four runners in the top 15. Junior Ashli Baddorf finished with a time of 22:10.99, placing sixth; sophomore Lorraine Fernandez finished with a time of 22:11.60, placing seventh; and Araseli Servin finished with a time of 22:34.47, rounding out the top 15.
The Broncos have one more meet for the regular season. They travel to La Jolla on Oct. 10 for the Triton Classic, and they are already preparing for conference play.
“We need to get geared up [and] ready for conference,” said Huizar. “We need to get that right mindset ready to go because we know [Chico State] is going to be tough. We know the rest of our conference is going to be tough, so we need to get our mindset ready to go and [be] ready to take these guys on.”
Gillespie-Bennett and Nickles also spoke about going into conference play.
“We’re very excited for conference,” said Nickles. “We’re going to train hard these next three weeks. We’re going to go out there and try to win conference, go on to regionals and hopefully nationals.”
“Right now we’re looking forward to conference,” said Gillespie-Bennett. “We’re looking for conference finals on both sides, and we’re looking to have both teams at nationals.”
Courtesy of Tom Zasadzinski / Bronco Athletics
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