Southwestern College’s men’s cross-country team finished 10th out of 26 in a meet featuring many of the west’s best university programs.
Head coach Dr. Duro Agbede said the Jaguars were the big winners.
“My purpose is to expose these athletes to the top universities because our main focus is to transfer,” said Agbede, SWC’s Zen master of transfer and scholarships.
Agbede is used to finishing first, but he said 10th was excellent considering SWC was up against elite university programs from Utah, Oregon State, Chico, Santa Clarita, U.C. Davis and others.
Freshman Steven Lepe led the men in 37th place overall. Miguel Lopez grabbed 44th and George Martinez 53rd.
Sierra Echols led the women at 63rd and Samantha Bojorquez crossed the line 69th.
Freshmen Lepe and Martinez have been leading the men with impressive performances in previous races.
“The weight of the team is going to fall squarely on the shoulders of these two,” said Agbede.
SWC’s wily coach also entered his teams in the U.C. Riverside Invitational where the Jaguar men placed 16th among 34 of the top NCAA Division One universities.
Martinez and Lepe have been contacted by U.C. Santa Barbara and U.C. Riverside, said Agbede. Lopez, another standout, will transfer to Berkeley this spring.
Rio Hondo Invitational
At the season opener, the men dominated by winning the top four spots. Lepe and Martinez took first and second place in a photo finish with the same running time of 20:08 in a four-mile race. Daniel Vazquez and Lopez were neck and neck for third and fourth, respectively, with a time of 20:32.
Sierra Echols placed 16th in the women’s meet in 20:48 and Kassandra Covarribas was 18th at 20:58.
After the great start and a strong team of eight, the women now are down to three runners with one out due to injury. Agbede said the remaining women will focus on earning scholarships.
SWC’s men, however, are still the championship hunt. Agbede said they need Vasquez to get healthy. Vazquez is suffering from shin splints that have kept him out since the second week of the season.
“I’ll be able to race this next week,” said Vazquez.
Despite the injuries, the Jags should not be overlooked, said Lepe.
“As of right now, we still think we can [win the State Championship]as long as we get healthy…we can still have a great chance of winning it.”