La Verne’s track and field teams competed in the 23rd annual Rossi Relays on Saturday.
Claremont-Mudd-Scripps hosted the event at the Burns Track and Field Complex.
Senior Melissa Cerrillos, distance runner for the Leopards, took second overall in the Women’s 3,000-meter run finishing with a time of 10:05.52.
She followed right behind Point Loma’s Zita Molnar who finished with a 9:58.06.
Leopards’ senior distance runner Rachael Dela Cruz finished 18th place.
During the race the Leopards held a strong pace, keeping the other competitors on their toes.
A big theme for the Leopards early season competition is to make sure they are working towards the end results they are hoping for, rather than focusing on their immediate results.
“Progress not perfection, despite how we are doing right now we are trying to improve for when season begins,” junior distance runner Catherina Makinna Posada said.
During the men’s 4×400 meter relay the Leopards were close behind other Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference schools.
The Leopards finished the race in ninth, finishing one second behind Whittier and Occidental, while Chapman was right behind the Leopards.
“It’s pretty even between CMS, Oxy and Pomona, they have a lot of athletes and it’s [more difficult] to compete because they have more chances to receive points,” junior sprints and hurdles runner Patrick Cornwell said.
La Verne’s smaller roster is a potential disadvantage when it comes to scoring, because fewer athletes means fewer chances for the team to score points in their meets.
“I wouldn’t say they aren’t better teams than us, they just have more athletes,” Cornwell said.
Cornwell finished 13th overall in the men’s 400-meter hurdles with a time of 59.12 seconds.
He is in a gradual transition from the 400-meter sprint to the 400-meter hurdles.
For this meet, many of the athletes did not compete at their best, as this is a preparation meet for their first SCIAC meet Saturday.
“We have high expectations, but we are not in full strength necessarily,” assistant coach Justin Wood said. “We don’t have everyone entered in their best events, but we are really just looking for a solid meet this weekend to try and set us up for our first SCIAC Multi Dual next weekend.”
For the Leopards, this weekend came as a good break from the very unfortunate weather they have been dealing with throughout the past few weeks.
The change in weather was very pleasing for Wood.
“It’s been less than optimal with the rain and the cold, as the weather turns we have no limitations, and I think we are going to reap the benefits of that coming into March and April,” Wood said.
Looking into SCIAC competition, the Leopards are not focusing on one specific competitor as they believe that anyone can win in this year’s SCIAC play.
“Oxy is usually a strong competitor who have some fast runners” said senior hurdler Jessica Portillo.
Many of the athletes also say that Claremont and Pomona-Pitzer are the Leopards main competitors for the season.
The first SCIAC Multi Dual of the season, starting at 10 a.m. Saturday at Redlands, will be a benchmark to see how the rest of their season will go.
“The main thing coach [Kevin] Reid and I have been doing is raising the bar for this squad and trying to teach them championship culture,” Wood said.
Rex Sample can be reached at email@example.com.