Photos by: Tony Leon/ActionWestPhotography.com
FULLERTON, Calif. – The Whittier College men's and women's cross country teams took advantage of mid-semester break to compete in a Friday meet on the campus of Cal State Fullerton. The races were open to post-collegiate clubs and individuals as well as all divisions of collegiate teams. "We always seek the most challenging competition because it helps motivate our improvement," commented head coach Greg Phillips.
The women's team placed 10th of 15 teams and was led by senior Anahy Covarrubias (Los Angeles, Calif.). Covarrubias covered the 5000m distance at a near perfect 6-minute per mile pace. She placed 19th of the 137 finishers. Freshman Jeanie Cox (Chino Hills, Calif.) had another consistent performance as the team's No. 2 finisher. Sophomore Kelsi Ikeda (Honolulu, HI) was next across the finish-line having a break-out performance… the first scoring performance for Ikeda as a member of the cross country team. Freshman Eliana Garcia (Pomona, Calif.) and junior Melissa Tobias (Norwalk, Calif.) completed the scoring positions. Also competing for the Poets were freshmen Swiftbird Yellow-Hair (Rock Point, AZ), Rocio Gonzalez (Novato, Calif.), Elizabeth Donnelly (Langley, WA), senior Esmeralda Martinez (Pomona, Calif.), and freshman Katarina Estrada (West Covina, Calif.).
The men's team placed 12th of 17 teams and was led by sophomore Benjamin White (La Habra Heights, Calif.). White was the first collegiate runner across the finish-line placing 6th of 181 finishers, breaking 25 minutes for 8000m (5-miles) for the first time. After getting caught in a massive crash at the start of the race, White recovered to lead the front pack of older, post-collegiate competitors, during various segments of the race. "When I got tripped and fell I got kicked once and stepped on three times"; said White during post-race commentary. A second Poet runner, freshman Yosh Bhattarai (Irvine, Calif.), lost a shoe in the chaos but continued as a barefoot runner placing 4th for Whittier's team effort. Sophomore David Del Carmen (Huntington Beach, Calif.) and freshman Ricardo Lira-Martinez (Bassett, Calif.), racing 2nd and 3rd for the team, managed to avoid the collisions at the start and had lifetime best performances. Also racing for Whittier was sophomore Benjamin Arrendondo (Sylmar, Calif.) and freshman Kurt Vanegas (Riverside, Calif.).