A small band of distance runners traveled five hours south to Eagle Rock for the Occidental College Spring Break Classic in hopes of becoming the first runners from Northern Californnia to achieve state qualifying marks. Several personal bests were achieved but the trip was highlighted by the performance of freshman Jesus Avalos, who only recently returned to action, and posted the top 5000 meter mark for the Panther this season.
Running in heat with teammates Nicholas Merillana and Alfredo Mejia, Jr., freshman Jesus Avalos was just hoping to keep up with the more experienced pair. The two already had posted the top 3000 meter times and had season best 1500 meter marks better than Avalos, but it the freshman from King City High School who showed poise amongst the large field of runners from all divisions chasing fast marks on an ideal night in Pasadena. Avalos used a consistent pace that saw him go through 1600 meters in 5:01 and 3200 meters in 10:04 to go to complete his first track 5000 meters in 15:40.45. The mark nearly took the Northern California lead and was only bettered by Coast Conference counterpart and all-region cross country runner Sebastian Andersson of Chabot College who inched ahead of Avalos in the final 200 meters. Sophomore Nicholas Merillana used his opportunity to run 15:52.87, Alfredo Mejia, Jr. 16:05.93. Sophomore Victor Nambo notched a significant personal best and regional qualifier 16:12.59. Andres Rodriguez gave the regional provisional a scare with 16:27.00. Freshman Luis Mendoza was the final Panther to cross the line in 17:16.32.
Several distance runners will join a select few to compete at the CSU Sacramento Hornet Invitational on March 14-15.