It has only been her first semester and freshman Olivia Ruiz has already proven to be an incredible runner for Pasadena City College. The San Marino High School graduate placed 33 out of 167 runners during the California Community College Athletic Association State Championship on Nov. 23 at Fresno’s Woodward Park.
Of the 37 runners able to break the 20-minute mark, Ruiz ran a time of 19:56 over 3.1 miles to finish the course.
“It definitely took a lot of hard work, there’s days where you don’t feel like going to practice, but you know you have to go to practice to make yourself better,” said Ruiz. “Of course I was nervous. I just blocked everything out and tried to stay focused and just focused on my race.”
Ruiz continued, “Personally, I like to get out in front so I don’t get caught up behind other people or else I kinda lose my pacing. I just try to stick with the front group as well as I could. I just try to pass as many people as I could and especially the third mile that’s when I start really looking to pass people. The last four hundred is when I start kicking and passed the most people out of my entire race.” said Ruiz. “My goal next year is to get a medal.”
Head Coach Innocent Egbunike and Assistant Coach Pat Williams were both very proud of her achievement.
“She was [in about] between 70 and 75th place with about a mile to go, so that’s how many people she passed,” said Williams.
Also racing for the Lancers at the meet were Sophomore Julia Reyes who placed 102 with a run time of 21:14 and Freshman Meline Minasian who placed 123 with a time of 21:39.3.
This is the first time the Lancers have qualified as a team for the State meet since 2014 when they placed 17th.
For the men’s team, Freshman Mohammad Halim from Arcadia High School led the way with a time of 22:53.5 to place 130 out of 172 runners.
All the Lancers’ racers had beaten their own previous best times.
Egbunike has high hopes for the coming season.
“We hope to continue to recruit and continue to get the athletes to maximize their God-given talent,” said Egbunike. A key component is getting them to know when they have it and making sure they give their best at it.”