There’s plenty of potential this season for the storied Glendale Community College track and field program, which is led by longtime coach Eddie Lopez.
Coming off of a cross-country season in which the Vaqueros women’s squad claimed a state championship, the Glendale women’s track and field team will turn toward their distance runners and key returners for what the Vaqueros hope will be the backbone to their success.
The same goes for the men’s team. The Vaqueros claimed the Western State Conference championship in cross-country as well, and the track and field team returns athletes who earned experience in the California Community College Athletic Assn. State Championship.
However, last season’s triumphs, which saw 13 athletes advance to the Southern California Track and Field Championships, might not completely ensure anything, so the path starts simply with conditioning.
“The main thing I think for any sport — college, high school or professional — is that you have to be consistent,” Lopez said. “They’ve been training, and we want to be consistent with training throughout the season and be consistent with conditioning. Once we are conditioned, we’ll be doing more work, but it all comes down to conditioning.”
The women’s team will include returning sophomore and Burbank High graduate Phoebe Forsyth, the Western State Conference champion in the 3000-meter steeplechase. The sophomore earned All-American honors in the state competition, where she finished second in the event.
Forsyth will captain the squad alongside sophomore Vanessa Chavez. Chavez will take part in the jumping events.
Forsyth, who helped the women’s team claim the state title at CCCAA Cross-Country Finals in November, will have help from fellow cross-country teammates and Bulldog graduates Jamie Levin and sister Lydia Forsyth, who will run the 10,000-meter event.
Levin, a freshmen who posted All-America honors at the state cross-country finals, will compete in the 1,500 with freshmen Bianca Biel and Yajaira Calderon, also an All-American cross-country runner.
“Those are our big guns,” Lopez said. “About six of them should be state qualifiers. We should have, hopefully, two or three state champions. That’s 30 points right there. We have a real strong possibility. We’re going to have not only state champions, but also All Americans and all-states.”
Burroughs graduate and freshman pole vaulter Elizabeth Switzer — a former All-Area Athlete of the Year — also joins the Vaqueros and should have a good shot at claiming the state title and breaking school records, Lopez said.
The men’s team return sophomore and Crescenta Valley High graduate Spencer Geck. At the state competition last season, the sophomore captain placed sixth in the 3,000 steeplechase and helped the Vaqueros cross-country squad claim its fourth straight conference championship en route to earning All-American honors.
Another Crescenta Valley graduate, Riley Center, will help captain the men’s side as a thrower and Vaqueros sophomore Pablo Gamez also returns to the team bringing depth in the discus.
Geck’s cross-country teammates, Marvin Guardado, Usiel Ulloa, Abraham Martinez, Kevin Keller and Ameer Mohammad, will take part in the distance events.
Ulloa will aide Geck in the 3,000 steeplechase, while Keller will compete in the 10,000. Guardado is set for the 5,000 and Mohammad, another Crescenta Valley grad, will compete in the 1,500.
The short-distance events will be run by sophomores Jalen Lawrence and Shannon Turner, and leading the jumping events will be sophomore Dakari Bell.
Lopez expects West L.A. College to provide tough conference competition, but he said he is confident his team’s all-around abilities will allow the Vaqueros to put up a fight against the Wildcats.
“For the guys, we have the same philosophy,” Lopez said. “We’ll be better in the dual meets. It’s going to be tough to beat West L.A., but we should be right up there.”
Glendale will host the Vaqueros Invitational on April 4. The event will feature 15 teams.