Cerrillos Leads Leopards at Pre-Nationals

Cerrillos Leads Leopards at Pre-Nationals
Rachael Dela Cruz
Sports Information Student Assistant

OSHKOSH, WI  Melissa Cerrillos posted a strong finish and University of La Verne women's cross country team finished in 38th place finish at the competitive Pre-Nationals 6K cross country race at Lake Breeze Golf Club in Wisconsin on Saturday morning. 

From the Coach

"The women did a great job of competing in less than optimal conditions and finished 38th out of 52 teams," said La Verne Head Coach Justin Wood. "We had a goal of finishing in the top of the field and came up just short. Regardless, we beat a bunch of solid teams and ultimately we are leaving Wisconsin as a better team than when we arrived."

How it Happened

With temperatures in the 30's-40's and the course muddy and wet from the frost, the Leopards faced a new environment in comparison to the sunny Southern California weather they're used to. But the conditions did not stop the team, and the women showed they could compete in any condition.

The Leopards started out at an aggressive pace to be competitive amongst the field of over 360 runners. Four of the seven women (Cerrillos, Rachael Dela Cruz, Michelle Suarez, Ashley Garnica) who toed the line were out in the top half of the field.

As the race progressed through thick, muddy turns and long, grass straightaways, the Leopards settled into competitive positions, pacing in 39th position at the 2-mile mark. Cerrillos trailed behind Occidental's top runner and Oct. 1 SCIAC Athlete of the Week Roxanne Valle and others keyed into fellow SCIAC competitors.

Showing they belonged in the competition, several women moved up during the last half of the race, resulting in the team moving up one place. Two women finished in the top 100, and a total of four of the top five women improved their places throughout the race.

Cerrillos surpassed the former SCIAC Athlete of the Week and jumped from 68th to 55th place with a time of 23:14.4. Dela Cruz also moved up in the field from 107th to 96th in 23:44.7. Suarez also jumped up seven places to finish the 6K course in 25:21.9. Garnica followed behind with a time of 26:30.7, and Reiko Fujimoto finished strong with a time of 27:18.7 to round out the five scorers.

Next Race

The women will compete in SCIAC Championships at Prado Park in Chino Hills at 9:45 a.m. October 27th at Prado Park in Chino Hills, CA. The Leopards will look to make a big leap from 8th in the conference last year to the top half of the conference.

Leopard Spotlight on Coach Wood

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