Orozco and Sanchez Pick Up State Titles

Orozco and Sanchez Pick Up State Titles
Hartnell College sophomores Eduardo Orozco and Jorge Sanchez have followed a similar path the last few weeks with both winning Coast Conference and Northern California individual titles for the first time. It was only fitting that the two continued that trend even at the CCCAA State Track & Field Championship at American River College in Roseville. Both competed in two events in the championship with both winning one event and earning a podium finish in the other.

Jorge Sanchez, an Everett Alvarez graduate, entered the 10,000 meter final of Friday night as the Northern California champion but faced not just the south region champion Raymundo Gonzalez of Glendale College but cross country state runner-up Luis Ortega of San Bernadino Valley College. After the first two miles were jogged in 10:59, Sanchez made his winning big by assuming the lead for the next 12 laps but was unable to shake a trio from the south. Sanchez would finish in fourth place, with a time of 32:31.05 earning All-American honors and improving on his eighth place from 2016, but felt the field had used him to their advantage. In the 5000 meter final with already having run 25 laps less than 24 hours prior and several key runners such as 14:44 5000 meter performer Shane Thompson of Glendale College and Southern California champion Kevin Herrera also looking to make a bid for the state championship title, Jorge decided his move would be a decisive one to not let anyone pace off him. After the first 1600 meter was reach in 4:58, Jorge accelerated to a 15 meter lead with only Herrera answering the challenge. That challenge would only last just less than two laps with Sanchez finishing himself alone the final four laps. A wave of emotions overcame Sanchez when he completed the 12.5 lap race and saw he had won by nearly five seconds in a time of 15:14.77. Jorge Sanchez becomes the third Hartnell College runner to win the state 5000 meter title joining Daniel Tapia in 2009 and Diego Leon in 2015. The story was nearly the same for teammate Eduardo Orozco as one simple move in the 1500 meters to take the lead and run away from the field gave him his first state championship to go along with his Coast Conference and Northern California titles. Orozco jumped to the lead as the pack began to bunch up and slow after just 200 meters into the race. He proceeded to cover the two laps in nearly 2:00 to build a lead of almost 50 meters. As he began the bell lap, Orozco held nearly a 5 second lead in the three and three quarter lap race. Despite a late charge from the south region's fastest performer, Orozco crossed the line with almost a three second victory. His time of 3:52.26 was a personal best by 4 seconds and run nearly alone in the state championship final. Orozco is now the third fastest performer in the event behind multiple state champion Brian Wilkinson and school record holder and professional miler Cristian Soratos. Others to earn podium medals were Mario Perez, Jr. in the 10,00 meters (32:45.20) in sixth place, Jonathan Saldana in the 3000 meter steeplechase (9:44.46) in seventh, Orozco doubled back in the 800 meters (1:57.00) for eighth, and Edgar Bonilla in the 1500 meters (4:04.65) also placed eighth. Saldana's mark was an 8 second personal best and will rank him second in Northern California in his sophomore season. Sophomore Andrew Martinez placed ninth in the 3000 meter steeplechase (9:52.33), Oscar Mora, Jr. eleventh in the 5000 meter run (16:12.49), Clemente Villareal eleventh in the decathlon (4939 points), and frosh Patrick Olson was eleventh in his first state championship 1500 meters. The men's team placed fifth out of 40 teams with 32 points, equaling the same finish two years ago. This past fall, the men's cross country also placed fifth in the state championship.

Freshman Haley Romero was the highest placing Lady Panther surprising the long jump field. Her final jump of 5.51 meters (18-1) solidified her fourth place finish earning the Gilroy native All-American honors. She also placed as the second highest Northern California jumper after just finishing fifth last week. Sophomore distance runner Yvette Felix capped her career with a solid ninth place finish in the 5000 meter run (18:52.14). Yvette Tavarez placed tenth in her first 3k steeplechase state championship final. Freshman Sherise Robinson placed twelfth in the heptathlon after missing nearly a month with sprained ankle. She will return in 2018 as the second ranked heptathlete in Northern California.