Photo by: Tony Leon/ActionWestPhotography.com
LA MIRADA, Calif. - The Whittier College Men's & Women's Cross Country teams opened their competitive seasons Saturday racing 273 distance runners representing 18 colleges and universities including a number of unattached athletes at the Biola Invitational.
The Lady Poets posted a 7th place team finish, a mere 5 points from taking 5th overall. Senior Julissa Tobias (Norwalk, Calif.) placed 9th in her first race since track & field nationals last spring, recording a time of 18:25 for the 5000m hill course. Senior Jessica Iribe (Buena Park, Calif.) and junior Anahy Covarrubias (Los Angeles, Calif.) were not far behind. Also scoring for Whittier was Jessica McCollum (Engleton, CO), Melissa Tobias (Norwalk, Calif.), Esmeralda Martinez (Pomona, Calif.), and Annabelle Ortiz. Dan'Nye Worthy-Mays (Ontario, Calif.) and Samantha Sison (Whittier, Calif.) made for nine Poets placing well ahead of trailing competitors.
A freshmen laden men's team found themselves, like six other men's teams, failing to place enough runners to comprise a team score. However, newcomer Benjamin White's (La Habra Heights, Calif.) 14th place individual finish (26:09 8K) was simply stunning as he went stride-for-stride with top-notch competitors. "Ben's race was spectacular and atypical of a collegiate rookie, and goes to show what a summer of consistent high-mileage training can do"; commented Coach Greg Phillips. Following White across the finish-line was senior KamRon Perry (San Jose, Calif.), freshman Dylan Highducheck (Gardena, Calif.), and freshman Benjamin Arrendondo (Sylmar, Calif.) who all raced well for their season debut. Even so, the men appear to be off to a slow start after losing 8 of its 11 runners from last season's Nationals qualifying team. "We'll be ready for SCIAC Championships on October 28"; added Phillips.