The 2018 cross country season opens a new fall of possibities for the women of Hartnell College. A year removed from winning another Coast Conference Championship, improving to second in Northern California, and moving into the top 10 in the state, this year's team is looking to take Hartnell back to the state podium. With five returning sophomores and some very impressive freshmen women, the Lady Panthes traveled to San Luis Obispo for the Tour de Cuesta. The Fairbanks Cross Country Course is one of the few dedicated pieces of land strictly used for cross country running. With landmarks on the course known as "KB Hill", "Merle's Bridge", and "The Switchbacks", it provided the Lady Panthers with a great early season test of fitness and strength.
Sophomore Monica Ruelas lead a trio that included fellow sophomore Arlene Diaz Leal and frosh Daniela Salazar all into the top 10 overall. Ruelas placed fourth overall in 20:08 over the very challenging 5km course. Ruelas, who ran outside the top 7 for most of last season, did not run faster than 20:08 until the final two meets of the 2017 season demonstrating fine early season form here. DiazLeal stopped the clock at 20:20 in sixth and Salazar 20:35 in eighth. Freshman Isabelle Torres cracked the top 14 placing eleventh in 21:09. Sophomore Maria Aceves placed fourteenth in 21:29 to complete the team scoring. The Lady Panthers tallied 41 points just 1 point behind Moorpack College who had the top two individual finishers and a woman in seventh. Sophomores Lauryn Orozco in fifteenth and Nina Arias in eighteenth actually placed in front of Moorpark's fifth scoring runner but the the Lady Panthers needed just one additional place out of any of the top seven placing women to take the victory. Also running well was freshman Nerina Campos who ran amongst the top seven Lady Panthers for nearly the entire race before placing twentieth overall in her first cross country race in two years.
The Lady Panthers will travel to Fresno on September 8 for the Fresno Invitational for an early season preview of the 5km layout used for the CCCAA Championship held in November at Woodward Park.