By Jesse Munoz, Photo by Mike Whitman/COC
The College of the Canyons cross country program got its season underway Friday, with COC head coach Lindie Kane taking her teams to compete at the annual Oxnard College Cross Country Invitational.
The event attracted a strong field of teams from across the state, with 11 men’s programs and 10 women’s programs combining for more than 180 race entries.
As has been tradition in recent years, COC got its season off to a strong start with a second place finish by the women’s team, before the men’s squad raced to fourth place.
COC freshman Stephanie Martinez was the top overall finished for the Cougars, as her third place time of 18:45.8 helped set the pace. Martinez was one of five COC runners to finish in the top-20 of the women’s 5K race.
Sophomore Jessica Ruiz, a 2015 JC All-American and an All-Western State Conference honoree, finished in sixth place at the event with a time of 19:01.7. Freshman Simone Whitman posted the next best time with a mark of 20:05.9 to finish in 17th place.
Diani Ellis (20:08.2) and Taylor Hernandez (20:26.2) finished 18th and 20th, respectively, to round out the Cougars’ top-five.
The team’s 54 points tailed only Glendale College (30), with Cuesta College (105) finishing a distant third.
COC sophomore Jake Higdon was the top runner for the men’s team, as his eighth place time of 21:33.3 on the four-mile course helped the Cougars stay with the lead pack.
Freshman Christopher Ochoa turned in a strong performance with a time of 22:12.3 to finish in 15th place. FreshmanSean Grey-Tunkl posted a time of 22:48.3 to finish in 30th place.
Rounding out the top five were Garrett Noltemeyer (37th) at 22:59.3 and Joshua Tan (41st) at 23:11.6
COC (124) trailed third place Moorpark College (114), second place Hartnell College (57) and event champion Glendale College (16).
Canyons will next compete at the The Mark Covert Classic hosted by CSU, Fullerton at 8:15 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 3.