Glendale College is a 220-mile drive from San Luis Obispo, but the Vaqueros will feel right at home when the state junior college men's cross-country championships are held at Fairbanks Park on Saturday.
That's because Glendale won the Western State Conference title at Fairbanks last year and was victorious on the same course in the Cuesta Invitational on Oct. 15.
"We think it's like a home course to us," Glendale Coach Eddie Lopez said. "We've run there enough that we know it really well."
Glendale finished second to San Diego Mesa in the Southern California championships at Kern County Soccer Park in Bakersfield on Nov. 5. But Lopez likes the Vaqueros' chances of winning a second consecutive state title--and third in five years--for two reasons.
First, Glendale typically runs well after a defeat.
Second, Fairbanks Park consists of rolling hills, which better suits Glendale's high-mileage runners than the flat, fast layout at Kern County Soccer Park.
"The key for us is our first two guys," Lopez said. "Eduardo [Diaz] and Jorge [Lopez] need to run well. If they can finish in the top 10, then the rest of our guys will follow and we should be fine."
Diaz, a sophomore who didn't run competitively while at San Fernando High, finished third in the Southern California championships with a 19:14 clocking over the four-mile course. But Lopez, another sophomore, was the Vaqueros' No. 4 runner in 31st.
Aaron Sharp of Oxnard and Brian Spangenberg of Canyons are other runners from the region who could contend for for top-10 finishes.
Spangenberg, a 35-year-old freshman, was 19th in the Southern California championships but says he's feeling strong after tapering his workouts the last two weeks.
San Diego Mesa, Glendale, Santa Ana and Orange Coast are expected to battle for the men's team title and Orange Coast is favored to win its third consecutive women's title.
The Pirates defeated San Diego Mesa, 52-119, to win the Southern California title, thanks to a 1-2-3 finish by Zoila Gomez, Heather Shurheff and Berenice Carbajal.
Yadi Ramirez of Ventura placed fourth in the Southern California championships with a 18:53 clocking over the three-mile course. Jeanene Gerry of Moorpark was sixth in 19:11 and Kim Lorimer of Glendale was ninth in 19:20.
The women's race will start at 10 a.m., followed by the men's at 11.