Special to the Tribune
Nine Bulldog cross country runners made the trip down to Southern California’s Mt. San Antonio College this past weekend. They spent the night at a hotel on Thursday to prepare for the 68th annual Mt. SAC Invitational on Friday, Oct. 23.
With 25,000 participants, Mt. SAC is the nation’s largest cross country invitational meet. To keep the meet running in a timely manner, races were started every eight minutes, with hundreds of athletes in each race. Mt. SAC is especially known for its infamously difficult “Reservoir Hill” and “Poop-Out Hill.”
All of the races covered a hilly 3-mile distance. The top 15 finishers in every race received a customized Mt. SAC medal.
Alhambra’s runners competed in just five races during the day, and all of them faced tough competition in every category.
The freshman girls 3-mile race started at 10:56 a.m. From the beginning Nicole Tria was in contention with the leaders, and she stayed consistently in the top 10 for the entire course.
Tria, already one of the top three Bulldog female distance runners, added yet another medal to her collection after finishing the distance in an impressive 21:44 for sixth place out of 85 runners. She was the only Alhambra runner to win a medal during the day. Nathalia Lopez of Century High School took first in 19:55.
In the boys freshman competition just minutes later, Graham Manning competed against a number of fast 3-mile runners. Manning crossed the finish line in 20 minutes and 5 seconds, a result that earned an impressive 39th place out of 140 people. Cory Ellis of Hoover won this race in 17:34.
Dylan Gregory ran another solid time of 18:09 in the boys sophomore race, which began at 11:55. His 20th place finish was only 16 seconds from winning another medal.
Noa Nabeshima led the way for the varsity boys team. The varsity competition, however, was another demanding race for the top 15 places, which unfortunately left all the Alhambra runners out of the medals.
Nabeshima came the closest with an 18th place finish in 17 minutes, 24 seconds. Connor Hayes was also under the 18 minute mark at 17:51, and Robert Viano completed the course with another respectable time of 18:04. Running the course for the first time, Luis Garcia also finished well with a time of 18:57.
The varsity girls team was the last to race for the Bulldogs. Erica Cardinale clocked in with a 23:39, while Catherine Stites ran 25 minutes and 40 seconds. Melissa Guevara and Kate Rogers both finished in under 28 minutes to finish up the day.