Oldach tops the GSAC
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Although the weather forecast had the temperature in Santa Clarita reaching 90 degrees on Saturday, Nov. 3, the heat of the day had yet to hit at 8:30 am - the start of the 2018 GSAC Cross Country Championships. The morning was cool and dew was brisk underfoot as Westmont’s men’s and women’s teams warmed up for their final effort of the regular season. There was a lot on the line–- team championships, nationals berths, and ultimately, a chance for the men’s team to knock out conference rivals The Master’s University after eight straight conference championships.
However, that was not the case. Both the men’s and women’s team finished second in the conference, with the men being edged by The Master’s by a mere six points. The women of Westmont ran admirably to finish second to Vanguard, but both the men’s and women’s team had some strong performances along the way.
On the men’s team, junior Michael Oldach defended his individual conference title in the 8k, with training partner Blake Fonda (senior) finishing directly behind him for Westmont to go 1-2 in the men’s race. Both Fonda and Oldach ran exceptionally smooth and tactically superior races compared to the rest of the field, even when contending with a slow first two miles and a “too tired to finish” Master’s runner that set the pace for the first two miles in an attempt to throw the pacing of the field off. Heading into the third mile, Fonda lead the pack with a grin on his face and an Oldach on his shoulder. Heading into the fifth and final mile of the race, Oldach was long gone and Fonda was there to clinch second. First-year Jason Peterson also clinched all-conference honors with a 10th place finish. Junior Michael Conant and senior David Peterson rounded out the scoring five for the Warriors. The Warriors were ranked 10th going into the meet, and their bid to the National Championship will be decided on Tuesday. Regardless of that decision, Oldach and Fonda will represent the Warriors in Cedar Rapids on November 16th.
On the women’s team, four Westmont runners claimed all-conference honors. Sophomore Casey Jensen ran a dogged and determined race to finish in seventh, just three places out of the individual berth position for nationals. She was followed closely by first-year Bethany Bodine, who finished 10th and has consistently been in the scoring five for the Warriors this season. Bodine was followed by sophomore Grace Hanna, who finished 13th, and senior Dominique Delgado was right behind her in 14th. Amanda Colacchia (junior) rounded out the scoring five for Westmont with a 17th place finish. The women recorded a 1:08 (minute/second) spread for their top five runners, highlighting consistency that became a hallmark for the women’s program this season. Missing from the Warriors scoring five was first-year Savannah Salmons, who has battled a tear in her ankle all season. Though it caused her great pain, she toed the line with her teammates gave the run her best effort before eventually being forced to stop by the aggravation to the injury. Despite that bitter disappointment, Salmons remained on the course to encourage her teammates as they finished the race.
The Warriors now play the waiting game to see who will qualify for Nationals, hosted in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on November 16th. The qualifying teams will be announced Tuesday.