Optimism a common theme at PCC
Lancers prep for big seasons in water polo, soccer, cross-country and volleyball.
Pasadena City College water polo player Makenzie Blank, left, will look to lead a deep Lancers team after she earned a South Coast Conference first-team selection in 2011. (Raul Roa/Staff Photographer / August 18, 2012)
The inquiries continued last season when the Lancers didn’t place a runner in the top 20 at the South Coast Conference Finals at Cerritos Regional Park and finished eighth in a team time of 2 hours, 05 minutes and 42 seconds.
The following week, at the Southern California Championships at Cucamonga-Guasti Regional Park in Ontario, the Lancers didn’t place a runner in the top 100 and finished 25th, which was not enough to advance them to the season-ending state meet at Fresno’s Woodward Park.
“It’s been disappointing with the guys because [former PCC Coach] Jesse Gomez built a strong men’s program that hasn’t been as strong lately,” Crespo said. “It’s been over 12 years since we’ve taken a full team to a state meet and hopefully we can change that.”
Even though five of Crespo’s top seven runners are back, including top runner Brian Sacripanti of Maranatha, there is a possibility none will make the top-seven cut, which might not be so bad.
“We’re so deep this year that I wouldn’t be surprised if we had an entirely different top seven,” Crespo said.
Part of Pasadena’s infusion of talent comes from powerful Arcadia High, where Francis Lee, the Apaches’ No. 5 runner, and Juan De La Rosa, are coming off leading their school to a second-place finish at the California State Division I Finals.
La Cañada standout Brendan Greene, who finished third at the Rio Hondo League finals, is also aboard, as is Burbank Burroughs’ Charlie Camacho (finished 21st in the Pacific League Finals), Taft’s Faustino Gil and Northview’s Alfredo Folgar. One of the more interesting arrivals is track and field distance runner Oswell Caal, who currently serves as a reserve soldier in the Marine Corps.
“I really believe that this could be a team that can reach state and maybe even finish in the top five. I know that sounds tough, but we’ve got five guys who can run under 21 minutes,” Crespo said. “Now we have to go from talking to running.”
Coach Crespo knows just how good his women’s squad was last year, as Pasadena finished third in the SCC, 13th at the Southern California Championships and, then in a mild upset, clinched 10th at the CCCAA State Finals.
Maybe that’s why his statements heading into this season are a bit surprising.
“This can be a real special team and should be better than last year,” Crespo said. “We came off a performance at the Pride of the Valley 5K where we’ve tremendously improved from last year. It’s exciting.”
The Lancers graduated their catalyst in Elizabeth Lyons, an SCC second-teamer who finished ninth at the conference finals, 47th at the Southern California Championships and 53rd in state.
Joining the exodus are the Lancers’ No. 3 runner Rebecca Nunez and sixth-best runner, Cassandra Lew.
Yet, returning to the fray are Diane Lombardi, Arielle Barragan and Tessa Chandler.
“I think Diane and Arielle will really be locked in a good battle for the fifth spot,” Crespo said. “As for Tessa, she has the talent to be in the top seven.”
Crespo expects that newcomer Jessica Nunez, a bona fide star at South Hills High and a two-time San Antonio League champion, will lead the pack along with Burbank’s Christina Shamirian, who finished 16th at the Pacific League Finals.
Sophomore Melissa Hadloc and freshman Tanya Hossain also figure to race for a top-seven spot. Sophomore Michelle Escamilla appeared a lock to make the squad, but a leg injury this summer may derail her season.
“My goal is to get in the top three in conference,” Crespo said. “The last time we did that was in the mid-90s, so it’s been awhile. I really think this team can do that.”