Men’s cross country wins back-to-back confernce titles

Johnny Ngo

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Sophomore runner Daniel Gonia isn’t going to slow down anytime soon.

“[Daniel] is running extremely well right now,” said Coach Thom Hunt, and the results show. Finishing first with 20:36.9 at the Southern California Championships four-mile event, Gonia is going to the state championships, along with the rest of the men’s team.

The Pacific Coast Championships was supposed to be determined a couple weeks prior to the SoCal Championships. Due to the fires though, the PCC were determined from the results at the SoCal Championships. Not only did Gonia finish first, fellow sophomore Dave Edwards and freshmen Bernado Bahena, Lance Blaskowski, Mike Denman, Barrett Tilley and Muluken Beressa all placed in the top 70 at the SoCal Championships.

Using those results, all seven runners finished in the top 15 in the PCC, resulting in not only another championship, but all seven made the All-Conference team. It’ll be their second PCC title in as many years, their fourth in eight years.

On the women’s side, freshman Chelsea Hill finished with a time of 19:41.6 and Samantha Espindola not far behind at 19:52.9 at their 5k event. With those times, Hill finished second and Espindola placed fourth in the PCC. They both made the All-Conference team and both qualify individually for the state title.

Mesa men finished second out of 33 schools at the SoCal Championships, behind only San Bernardino Valley. All the practice and energy is now being focused to improve their fourth place finish at state last year.

“We have a legitimate shot at winning the state title,” Coach Hunt said. “However San Bernardino Valley is the defending state champion and looked good at the SoCal meet, so we will have to run very well to have a shot at winning.”

The Mesa women finished 16th at the SoCal championship but third in the PCC. Even though their team doesn’t qualify, Hill and Espindola will try to bring home individual titles.

The state championships will be held at Woodward Park in Fresno on Nov. 17.

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