Pasadena City College’s [PCC] track and field had a difficult season this spring semester as they faced multiple injuries throughout their meets, including Jared Whitt one of team’s promising athlete.

The women’s track team, led by Kessa Rychlick, placed top 25 in three different events after their first two meets at Cal State Los Angeles [CSULA] and Cerritos College. Rychlick overall placed fifth in the 400-meter dash in just 1:02.38 as 24th in the state at CSULA’s invitational on March 2.

Prior to that in Cerritos Rychlick took fifth place in the 100 hurdles in 17.50 seconds putting her as 23rd in the state then scored seventh in the 400 hurdles by 1:15.04 as 25th in the state.

PCC men’s was off to a good start competing in the Oxy Carnival Meet that took place at Occidental College, March 9th. Miles Johnson placed second in the high jump that was a season best leaping six feet and .75 inches scoring 17th in the state.

“I feel good about it, in every situation, in every completion, every track season you have to look back at the rear view mirror and look at how things went. We could’ve done better,” said Coach Innocent Egbunike.

James Membreno/ Courier
Justin Smith lands during his flight on Saturday, March 9, 2018 at Jack Kemp Stadium.

Whitt leaped 46-4 in the triple jump as the longest leap of any college athlete as he competed against both 4 year universities and club teams. Whitt’s scored improve his state second best winning the triple jump on March 16 at Bakersfield.

Rychlick is one of PCC’s women’s top athlete who once again place third in two events. Rychlick dashed a 27.26 second time in the 200 meter and hurdled in 17.58 seconds in the 100 hurdles.

As a team Abigail Olivares, Claire Chen, Rychlick and Kaitlin Lee all together placed second in the 4×100 taking 28th in the state.

During their meet at Stockton on April 5, Whit shared first place in the triple jump at 48-6.25. Whitt held the top mark in the triple jump until San Joaquin’s Juwan Seales tied the event.

Whitt on the same day placed second in the triple jump at San Diego Mesa invitational and had the best college marks an an unattached jumper.

Rychlick bolted the state’s fifth fastest time this season in the 400-meter hurdles at one minute and 5.64 seconds at the San Diego Mesa Invitational. Rychlick previously placed third in the 100 hurdles at El Camino Invitational on March 22.

Johnson had his best high jump mark of the season at the time hopping 6-2.75 that tied for second place and 14th in the state.

“We had a lot of injuries so that did not help us much, but thank god we had athletes who went to the Southern California Championships. We had four athletes in five events in the finals. Now we have to go to the future,” said Egbunike.

PCC women’s track team placed sixth at the South Coast Conference at Cerritos College with 14 points, finishing ahead of East Los Angeles City College. Rychlick ran her season best in the prelims for 100-meter hurdles at 16.01 seconds.

Rychlick then broke PCC’s drought of three year of women athletes scoring at the Southern California Track and Field Championships that took place May 11 at Riverside City College. Rychlick took eighth place in the 100-meter hurdles beating her season best at 15.75 seconds allowing PCC to tie for 23rd place overall.

The men’s track team unfortunately had a disappointing end to their season as Whitt was scratched from two events at the SoCal Finals due to a knee injury.

“The events he was involved with are tough events, unfortunately it came at a wrong time. My main concern him and I conversed he has a great future,” said Egbunike. “We’d rather preserve than trying to push him towards getting injured I’m one of those coaches who looks at an athlete’s future.”

Johnson, a state qualifier, who is just a freshman placed 10th in the high jump at 1.85 meter and Justin Campbell settled in 11th.

This became the second time in the past three years that PCC struggled to score at the SoCal Championships.

“You always look at the good, the bad and the ugly. I feel we have the good from this year will up away the bad as we move forward,” said Egbunike, “We’ve been going out and recruiting. It’s one of the thing you do and hope that if everyone comes like you expected them to do it will change things.”

PCC did not have a home field they can practice at or hold their own invitational meets and have been working with administration to ensure their players have proper training and finally have a home meet.

“The biggest [concern] for the past three year since I took this job we have not been able to compete at home. Thank God administration have done a great job the track is ready to go,” said Egbunike. “The excitement is looking at hosting some competitions, also doing some clinics that will give the opportunity to recruit more and fundraising. We’ve always gone everywhere else and as a staff we’re excited about that.”

Egbunike’s advice to his returning athletes is to set goals and learn to understand it takes hard work to build a foundation. It takes hard work to be successful and they’re students before athletes, so they need to take care of their education first.

“I don’t know anyone who became the best in the world, who didn’t have a vision,” said Egbunike.

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