The duo of sophomore Daniela Salazar and freshman Valeria Gomez-Lozano served notice to the state this past weekend at the Beat the Heat meet in Eureka on the campus of College of the Redwoods. Salazar, already a CCCAA cross country All-American, finished the course first but was only ahead of her teammate by less than 2 seconds. Salazar was seventh overall at last fall's CCCAA State Championship with the talented freshman from North Salinas High School now a contender for a top seven finish as well in her freshman season. The pair followed a Shasta College runner for the first mile before assuming control of the race. The pair tackled "The Mud Bog" and "The Wall" and remained together all the way to the finish line. It was not until the short section on the track did Salazar inch ahead for the win. They were followed by two more Panthers in Isabelle Torres and freshman Mariah Changco. That duo was only separated by one second. Torres, already an all-region honoree last fall, should find Changco within close proximity as both shoot for top 14 All-American finishes this fall. Shantal Martinez enjoyed her first race as a Panther since transferring last fall from NCAA D2 Ohio Valley University. Martinez finished sixth overall followed by Nerina Campos and freshman Joanna Macias in seventh and eighth. Campos was thirteenth at last year's regional championship and 64th at the State Championship demonstrating this year's squad's ability to place the top seven all in the top 65 come November.
The Panthers will face their first challenge of the 2019 season Saturday, September 7 at the Fresno Invitational. The last two seasons, the Panthers have been the surprise team winner with all five scoring ladies placing inside the top 14 last fall. The ladies are looking to improve on last year's state runner-up finish after tallying 98 points to LA Harbor College's 77 points.