Records and boundaries broken at cross-country championship

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By Mary York

In a heartwarming display of sportsmanship, a crowd of cheering teammates, competitors and fans swarmed the finish line to give the very last runner to complete the Pacific Coast Athletic Conference Cross-Country Championship the same loud applause as the first runner, winner and record-breaker, Aminat Olowora. 

By Mary York

In a heartwarming display of sportsmanship, a crowd of cheering teammates, competitors and fans swarmed the finish line to give the very last runner to complete the Pacific Coast Athletic Conference Cross-Country Championship the same loud applause as the first runner, winner and record-breaker, Aminat Olowora. 

Nearly two hours after Olowora made a stunning streak past the time clock, Omar Contreras, Cuyamaca, 38:29, jogged through a line of cheering athletes and supporters, finishing the men’s race nearly ten minutes behind the last competitor.

Both teammates and opponents gathered to cheer on the tired athlete as he made his final lap around the track.

“It felt great to finish finally and have everybody supporting me,” said Contreras. “It was amazing because it just goes to show that not only your teammates will come, but people you don’t even know will come to support you.”

Contreras was one of 15 men running for Cuyamaca College, which, according to men’s head coach Tim Seaman, is the largest group the college has ever had for the category. Of those entrants, 11 placed in the top 15 spots, turning the finish line into a continuous wave of sky-blue jerseys.

Oscar Soto, Cuyamaca sophomore, 20:51, took home the win with a 5:13 pace.

“We all went together, fighting the whole way, pushing each other,” said Soto. “This season we have a good group of guys. We’re trying to stick together. It’s tough in the beginning of the season trying to build that bond, but we kept it working.”

Cuyamaca men’s team took first place for the meet.

Olowora, a Southwestern College athlete who has had the stands roaring for her since she began breaking records last year, took home the gold with a wide lead during the women’s 5k on Friday, October 30. She bested her previous season’s time and set a new college record in California, coming in at 16:11. Olowora is set to compete at the regional and state championships this month and hopes to earn a qualifying time for the 2016 Olympics. 

Kristina Tovilovic of San Diego Mesa, second place, finished at 19:10 and Valeria Ramirez of Palomar crossed the line five seconds behind her to earn third place. 

Grossmont and Cuyamaca College were among the schools represented at the race. Robert Claesson, Grossmont coach, said he was proud of his team, which filtered across the finish in the middle of the pack. 

“We showed up here without our top for runners,” he said. “But they all got personal records so that’s the way to finish.”

The Grossmont Griffins are entirely represented by ladies this year, as the men’s team was eliminated due to funding.

“Grossmont district cut our top men’s program in the country,” said Claesson, adding that the women’s team this year is also almost entirely freshman, making it quite a building season for the Griffins. “We’re just building our base, trying to get them to come to practice and do their best. That’s really the biggest battle.”

The Southern California Championship will be on Nov. 6, followed by the State Championship on Nov. 21.

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