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Rosas leads Vaqs to state title

Cross-country: Sophomore takes individual crown by a second, while team wins third title in five years

Men are seventh.

November 20, 2011|By Gabriel Rizk, gabriel.rizk@latimes.com

Already having proved itself to be a regional dynasty with real staying power over the last several years, the Glendale Community College women's cross-country program added a new tier to its ever-expanding legacy on Saturday morning at the 2011 California Community College Cross-Country Championships at Woodward Park in Fresno.

The writing was on the wall after the Vaqueros had easily beaten their top state competition, Orange Coast College, in the Southern California championships the week prior. And things fell in line as expected at state, as Glendale held off the Pirates once again, 30-115, to win the 5K race and claim its third state crown in five years. The win also continues a seven-year span in which the Vaqueros have never finished lower than third place at state.

"We've been, in the last seven years, the most dominant women's cross-country program in the state," Glendale Coach Eddie Lopez said. "We know that Orange Coast has set the standard, but right now we are the most consistent and the best program in the state of California.

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"It's been a team effort with the school and everyone helping. It's been good, I can't complain."

Glendale's Karen Rosas, who edged Cuesta's Devon Kelsey by one second, claimed the individual state championship with a winning time of 18 minutes, adding to a collection of individual hardware that already included track and field state crowns in the 5,000- and 10,000-meter races won in May. It is also the second team title for Rosas in cross-country, as she was a member of the last Vaqueros championship team that won it all in 2009.

"I'm definitely relieved," Rosas said. "For a split second, I thought I didn't have it and that is a terrible feeling because you've worked so hard and you have all your teammates looking at you like you can do it.

"There's so many great feelings. In the training process there's so many things going on and the girls had a lot of faith in me to lead them. …It's not only Karen Rosas, it's also the team itself and how much we all worked and the passion we put into it."

Recovering from a flu-like illness in the days leading up to the race, Rosas said she felt strong and had taken a 50-meter lead by the race's midpoint. Kelsey made an impressive late charge, however, actually passing Rosas momentarily with 50 meters to go before Rosas kicked right back for a photo-finish win.

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