Men’s cross-country team finishes 2nd overall at Aztec invitational


City runners Antonio Cota (front) and Sawiros Haile compete in the 2014 San Diego State ‘Aztec Invitational.’ Running against five other schools in the Sept. 20 race in Mission Bay Park. Photo credit: Troy Orem

David Pradel, Sports Editor

The family-friendly Mission Bay Park was turned into a competitive cross-country race as a stampede of runners and spectators flooded the park for the 70th annual San Diego Aztec Invitational on Sept. 20.

In the stampede of runners, were the San Diego City College men’s cross-country team who were looking to make an impact in their second race of the season. Just as the men’s race was waiting to begin, the Knights were fueled with confidence as it was perfect running weather for the teams competing.

“Without a doubt it was a confidence booster coming into the race because earlier in the week we were expecting hot and sunny 90 degree weather,” said sophomore captain Daniel Trujillo. “It was good to have it cool, breezy and cloudy – perfect running weather.”

The men’s race was an 8K, just a little under five miles and as the six teams sprinted off the starting line, it was freshman Antonio Cota leading the Knights cross-country team.

Throughout the race, Cota was able to hang in with San Diego Mesa’s strong cross-country team.

“I was very surprised with (Antonio) Cota. He ran very strong today and was running with the Mesa guys and they are one of the top teams in the state,” said Assistant Coach Peter Gregory.

Cota was the first to cross the finish line for the Knights and finished 15th overall with a time of 30:09.9. After finishing just seconds behind two Mesa’s runners, Cota is eyeing to beat them in the next race.

“I would (grade) my performance today as a B plus. I was kind of sick and not feeling well but I was able to stay with Mesa and they are one of the top dogs and I was up there and I know I can compete with them,” said Cota. “I think moving on into the season, if I bump up the mileage so when that last mile kicks in – I’ll feel great and be able to hammer it.”

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Freshman Sawiros Haile finished with a time of 32:30.8 for the Knights and just a minute behind Haile was freshman Julio Segura who crossed the finish line with a time of 33:20.7. Freshman David Torres finished strong with a time of 34:49.3. and freshman Felix Pozo followed his teammates and crossed the finish line with a time of 35:02.2.

“(The team) did great but there are always areas where we can improve. I think that if we can get more group finishing’s– so if we can get teammates to move up near the end of the race and finish together so the rankings would be a lot less closer to each other, which would mean less points and a higher ranking in the (team standings),” said Trujillo.

Trujillo crossed the finished line with a time of 41:40.4 and a few minutes behind the captain for the Knights was freshman Israel Ramirez finishing with a time of 43:08.9.

Despite missing two runners, the Knights finished 2nd overall in the team standings and as the season moves along, the Knights have their mind on making it to the State Championships.

“The team did excellent today, this is a very tough course and they ran over their regular 4 miles and did four 2 K loops. They ran very strong and once we get Abdullah Moulin back from injury and our 5th guy, Miguel Reyes we are looking at possibly making it to State this year,” said Gregory.

The Knights will be traveling up north for their next race at Guasti Park, Ontario to compete in the Foothill Invitational on Oct. 3.