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Jacks Host CCAA Cross Country Conference Meet

Athletes from across California traveled to Arcata to compete in the Division II cross country conference championships

On Saturday morning hundreds of runners prepared to toe the line for a California Collegiate Athletic Association cross country conference meet. Despite the impending power outage, the best of California’s Division II runners descended on the Baywood Golf & Country Club as Humboldt State hosted their first conference championship.

The women’s race was six-kilometers long, contested by 12 teams and the men’s race was eight kilometers long as ten teams aimed for the top spot.

The women’s race set off at 9 a.m. Humboldt State’s Cessair McKinney took an early lead for the Jacks but slowly slipped behind teammate Rosa Granados who ended as Humboldt’s top finishing runner in 16th, with a time of 22:49. McKinney finished the race in 30th with a time of 23:16.

The women’s race was six-kilometers long, contested by 12 teams and the men’s race was eight kilometers long as ten teams aimed for the top spot.

Another standout in the women’s race was the Jacks’ Yuliana Garibay who was able to work her way up the highly competitive field to cross the line in 40th, just behind teammates Rosie Melville and Saedy Williamson.

HSU Coach Jamey Harris was impressed with Granados’ run Saturday, mentioning that as one of the highlights of the meet for him.

“Rosa was a little bit of a pleasant surprise,” Harris said. “I thought top 15 was possible for her but I thought that was going to take a really, really good day and she had a really good day. Almost got top 15.”

Chico State claimed top honors in the women’s race by placing eight of their runners in the top 15 to finish with 23 points compared to second-place Cal State East Bay who finished with 81 points. The HSU women’s team placed seventh overall with 152 points beating Cal State Los Angeles and Cal State Bernardino.

A thirty-minute gap between events allowed the men to warm-up before starting their race. While the athletes were ready to get things underway, complications with the starting gun resulted in several false starts.

Humboldt State’s Evan LeDesma races alongside Cal State East Bay’s Bryan Llopis as they head down one of the slight downhills on the course during the men’s CCAA conference race at Baywood Golf & Country Club on Oct. 26. | Photo by Thomas Lal

When things finally got moving, the race was packed up for much of the first two kilometers. Humboldt’s Daniel Tull has been the team’s leader since the start of the season and continued to stick with the front pack through the early and middle stages of the competition, even taking the lead for a brief time. As the race continued, Chico once again held control in the championship race.

Tull led the Jacks in tenth followed by the Jacks’ Elliot Portillo in 43rd, and the rest of his teammates took sixth as a team. Tull was the only Jack to finish in the top 15 Saturday, but that did not stop him from pointing out that he could have finished stronger had he not led early on in the race.

“I was feeling really strong and I was with the front group for the first 6K or 7K,” Tull said. “I kind of moved up from fourth or fifth to first. The guys that I passed made a really strong move that I couldn’t really cover, so I kind of faded. Once I lost my momentum I kind of paid for that. I’m still happy with it, that’s my best race yet. But I know I could have done better.”

Portillo felt that the team’s performance was where things were expected to be, but he thinks there could be better performances up ahead for himself and his teammates.

“I got out pretty quick, kind of found myself slipping into a back pack,” Portillo said. “As the race strung out, some moves were made. And then definitely within the last 400 yards, my body kind of shut down on me and it was just a struggle to finish. I think as a team we had a few guys that had bad days, that didn’t quite do what they wanted. We still finished about where we were expected to so that’s a healthy sign.”

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