The men’s and women’s track and field teams had a total of five individual wins in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Multi-Dual No. 2 meet Saturday at home.
The individual winners were senior Ebony Turner in the high jump, junior Mathew Pedroza in the hammer throw, senior Kyle Ambat in the triple jump, senior Rachael Dela Cruz in the 1,500-meter, senior Melissa Cerrillos in the 3,000-meter steeplechase and junior Elizabeth Prevedello in the long jump.
These five athletes took first over competitors from Pomona-Pitzer, Occidental, Redlands and Chapman.
Both the men’s and women’s teams defeated Chapman 101-52 and 94-55 respectively, but both teams lost to Occidental (men: 102-60, women: 106-50) and Pomona-Pitzer (men: 81-80, women: 87-72).
Cerrillos took first place in the 3,000-meter steeplechase adding to her long list of accomplishments. Cerrillos currently holds the school record for the steeplechase she set in 2017.
“We basically took care of our bodies this week,” Cerrillos said. “We had a really good quality workout on Tuesday and then rehabbed (we) really just worked on technique the rest of the week.”
After completing her races for the day, Cerrillos feels hopeful about their current season.
“I think we are going to translate well into conference like last year; we were tied for third and I think we are going be up there again this year,” Cerrillos said.
Following Cerrillos, the women’s squad posted strong performances throughout the day – with Dela Cruz taking first in the 1500 with a top 50 time in Division III, Turner took first in the high jump with a 1.60-meter final height, Prevedello taking first in the long jump (an event she ranks third in nationally) and junior Jade Griffin added two personal bests in the 200-meter and 100-meter dash where she placed third and fourth respectively.
For the men’s team, Ambat placed first in the triple jump, ranking him 17th in the nation and would also take third in the long jump. In addition to winning the hammer throw, Pedroza also placed third in discus. Sophomore Mathew Salas finished second in the 800-meter dash posting a national top 7 time in Division III. Junior Patrick Cornwell took third in the 400-meter hurdles, with a time of 55.77, the 26th best time nationwide.
This was a big weekend for the Leopards, with the coaching staff ensuring in every athlete’s mind that this is their house and to keep it that way.
“Our coach wanted us to focus on intensity, staying a team and competing especially because we are at home,” junior sprinter Terrence Robinson said. “He wanted us to protect this house and show up and not make them want to come back.”
This sentiment was shared from sprinters to throwers, the entire La Verne squad was on the same page which was evident by the caliber at which they were competing. At no point did the Leopards pull back and allow any of the other SCIAC schools to take the reigns of the competition. They took early leads in the races and asserting their dominance.
“Bringing energy and enthusiasm, (I wanted to) just get out there and compete, I didn’t want to be too lackadaisical,” Pedroza said.
Pedroza’s win in the hammer throw was a personal triumph after coming off of a back injury making his victory that much sweeter. The competition for the throwers was tight making it difficult to determine a true winner because every athlete was throwing to their best. Even though he won, Pedroza said he was not particularly happy with how he competed.
“I’m okay with it, I’m just happy to get out of that slump from shot put and get back near my PR,” Pedroza said “I still have a lot of work to do because there is always room for improvement.”
The Leopards are set to return to action at the Pomona-Pitzer Invitational at 10 a.m. Saturday.
Rex Sample can be reached at email@example.com.