The men’s and women’s cross-country teams for Hartnell College are both ranked second in the state, the best performance in program history for both teams in the California Community College Athletic Association. They are each one step away from winning the state title.
Both teams are also conference champions. This is the eighth consecutive season the women’s team has clinched the conference championship.
On Oct. 15, the men’s team upset the number-1 seeded team in the state, Mount San Antonio College from Walnut, California, during the Mount San Antonio Invitational, where the Hartnell Panthers took first place with 29 points.
The teams won the CCCAA Northern California regionals on Nov. 5. The women's team is led by freshman Sofia Camacho and sophomore Valeria Lozano-Gomez, who placed first and third, respectively, during the regionals.
On the men’s team, sophomore Isaac Gesel and freshman Esteban Deniz placed first and fourth in the race. The men’s team had six runners in the top 10.
In 2019, the men’s team placed seventh and the women’s fourth. After a year-long hiatus due to the pandemic, both teams came back stronger than ever. “For the last 15 years, we've been just slowly kind of climbing the ranks,” says Chris Zepeda, Hartnell's cross-country head coach.
Now, both teams are within reach of the state championship. “We have a good shot at winning,” Zepeda says. If the women's team wins, they would become the first Northern California team to become state champions.
Today, Nov. 19, the Panthers traveled to Fresno for the state meet. The women's team will run at 10am and the men’s at 11am tomorrow, Saturday, Nov. 20, in Woodward Park at 7775 N. Friant Road.
If either team wins tomorrow, they become the California state champions.