San Diego Mesa men repeat, Mt. SAC women return to podium; Salcedo completes unbeaten season and Abdala wins men's race

(clockwise from upper left): Mt. San Antonio, Daniel Abdala (Mt. SAC), San Diego Mesa and Danielle Salcedo.
(clockwise from upper left): Mt. San Antonio, Daniel Abdala (Mt. SAC), San Diego Mesa and Danielle Salcedo.

FRESNO - It was a difference of only 16 points for the team titles of both races at the 2021 California Community College Athletic Association Cross Country Championships at Fresno’s Woodward Park.

The Mt. San Antonio College women’s team beat a gallant Hartnell College effort, 50-66 for the team title in the 44th running of this CCCAA race and it was the Mounties tenth win since 1988. Riverside was third at 130, Clovis fourth at 162 and DeAnza, fifth, 180.

Mt. SAC’s Hannah Brown at 18:40.0 over 3.1 miles was 3rd in team scoring and fourth overall. She was followed by teammates Amanda Crowell (13th in team, 18th overall) and Kaitlyn Atkinson (14th team, 19th overall). Their times were 19:18.3 and 19:23.0. Rounding out the five-place scoring were Claudia Vera (16th team, 21st overall) and Kimberly Pena (17th  team, 22nd overall) They recorded times of 19:24.6 and 19:25.4. Karla Galvan and Jessica Mojarro-Salinas did not figure in the team scoring, but shared in championship honors.

College of the Canyons’ Danielle Salcedo, the Southern California Regional champion, completed an undefeated season by winning the individual title with a time of 17:54.9. Yahaira Zuniga, a 2019 All-American from San Diego Mesa was second at 18:06.5 and Stina Johansson of Ventura College was third at 18:13.8.

San Diego Mesa’s men’s team was tough to beat all season and the 57th CCCAA Men’s Championship was no exception. Score it Olympians 50-66 over Mt. SAC for back-to-back state titles and the fifth in school history. How tough was SDM? How about four runners making All-America by finishing in the Top 14.  Esteban Magana was third at 20:18.5; Jonathan Kelly sixth at 20:22.4; Juan Rosales, 12th in 20:32.5 (11th in team scoring) and Deven Provence 14th at 20:33.0 (13th in team). Jesus Villarreal wrapped up title No. 5 finishing 17th at 20:39.3 (16th in team). Franky Dolores and David Millan were SDM’s 6th and 7th finishers and shared in the championship.

As Olympians assistant coach Matthew Beckstead put it, “For us, our focus has always been establishing a rhythm, staying engaged in the middle of the race and working that last mile. Everything we’ve done up to this point has been all about today. It’s never been about one individual race or one individual performance. We’ve always been gearing toward the state meet ahd how we prepare our team for this race. So, that’s kind of the goal we’ve been pushing and we accomplished it.”

Mt. SAC’s Daniel Abdala, sixth in 2019, was the individual winner timing 19:52.4 and followed up his SoCal win by leading the Mounties to a runner-up finish. “Second place is not what we want, but we’ll take it. Individually. It felt great. I had a lot of fun on the course. It was really fun to run with the pack going into the second and third miles and just letting go in the last one,” he said.

“I knew going into the second hill that I had to put on the pedal really quick. If they would respond to it, then stay with them, and if not, then just go with it. We went up the little hill a little slow, so I knew that once I got to the top, to put the burners on them and then slide down to about 800 meters and that’s when I knew,” Quite a tactician!

Second place went to Isaac Gensel (20:11.1) of Hartnell and Jacob Lawrence (20:14.3) from Chabot was third. In team standings,Hartnell nosed out Riverside for third place, 91-93, and American River was fifth at 168.

On a Fresno day when fog lingered longer than expected, it was totally clear that San Diego Mesa’s men  and Mt. San Antonio’s women weathered the elements and ran to victory.

(Woody Wilk, Fresno City College Athletics)