Track team running for a state title

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By Samantha Mendoza

Records and opponents fell as the track team sprints toward the finish line of the 2011 season.

40 mph winds and icy conditions did not phase freshman Ben Ijah as he set the Southwestern College decathlon record by 558 points at the Decathlon Championships in Antelope Valley. Ijah set another record when he leaped for an outstanding 6.90-meter first place finish in the long jump at the SOKA Peace Invitational in Mission Viejo.

“I definitely feel like it was a season I took advantage of because I made personal records in everything,” said Ijah. “I give credit to the coaches and because of them my form has improved over the track season. My favorite event is long jump because it has always been one of my special abilities.”

Distant running competitors once again had no chance against the fantastic four in Ayded Reyes, Aylin Mejia, Tanya Valenzuela and Nadine Mulvany when they swept the first four places in the 5,000 at the Foothill Conference Finals.

Reyes and Mejia took second and fourth in the 10,000-meter run at So Cal Preliminaries in Mt. San Antonio finishing in 38:08.46-minutes and 38:55.57.

Sophomore Brandon Hille beat the two-year old school record in the 400-meter when he ran a 48.03-second place finish at the Foothill Conference Preliminaries at San Diego Mesa College.

“I was able to make a record because I work hard all the time,” said Hille.

Olympics-bound freshman sprinter Julian Reddy continued to shine when he ran for a 10.64-meter first place finish in the 100 at the Foothill Conference Finals. He also ran a blistering 21.46 finish in the 200 at the finals.

“Well the team did great this season,” said Reddy. “We pulled an upset in the 4×100 which was great because we’ve been working hard perfecting our hand-offs. We came together at the perfect time. Everyone did their part and we came out victorious.”

The 4×100 relay team of Patrick Arizmendi, Little Thomas, Tyrone Richardson and Reddy placed first at the Foothill Conference Finals in 42.33. As the anchor, Reddy used his bounty of strength in the sprints to nip San Diego Mesa by a twelfth of a second.

At the 53rd Annual Mt. SAC Relays freshman Ansu Sowe placed first in the 5,000m in 15:16.59.

Sowe placed third in the 10,000 at the So Cal Prelims with a 31:52.59.

Freshman Leonardo Banales also scored points for SWC when he placed third in the 3,000m steeplechase with a finish of 9:32.78.

Banales placed first in the 800 with a 2:00.03 finish at the Conference Quad in Cuyamaca.

He then placed third in the 3,000 steeplechase at the So Cal Prelims with a 9:29.34 finish.

Ansu and Banales dominated first and second place in the 1,500 at Cuyamaca with times of 4:02.21 and 4:16.11.

Sophomore Elijah Muhammad took home a first place finish at the So Cal Prelims in 14.32.

Head coach Tonie Campbell said the team needs to work together to unify for a greater good.

“Together each individual is like a spider’s web and each athlete is a strand,” he said. “We make a web and together we can capture a line.”

Freshman Alesha Zeigler will be the athlete for recruiters to watch next season with her strength in the throws. Zeigler swung a 27.23-meter hammer throw at the Foothill Conference Finals, beating the old record by 4.09-meters. This throwing protegé broke another school record with her 35.97-meter in the discuss.

“Our season had its ups and down,” said Zeigler. “Due to injuries and team members who didn’t make grades, we did our best with what we had. At the end it showed that our team can survive anything thrown at us.”

Freshman Brittany Hollie added to the list of Foothill first places, earning first in the 100 hurdles. Hollie improved her time since her first place 15.74 finish at Cuyamaca.

“I think the upcoming sophomores will continue the excellence we have created as a team and individually,” said Mulvany.

Sophomore Tanya Valenzuela continued to run hard when she finished first place in the 3,000 steeplechase in 12:21.21 at the Foothill Conference Finals.

The team will finish its 2011 season at the So Cal Finals at Mt. San Antonio on May 14th and then at the Cal State Championships on May 20-21 at American River.

Campbell is confident in his team’s ability to overcome obstacles.
“The athletes are going to learn they’re something greater than themselves,” said Campbell. “When we get together as a unit we can do anything.”

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