SMC track sends 10 runners to SoCal Finals

The Southern California Community College Track and Field Finals are coming up, and it may not surprise many that Santa Monica College will be sending its best and brightest stars. What may surprise some is how many runners qualified, which was a solid 10, nine more than last year.

In order to qualify for the finals, the SMC track team had to earn their way in by participating in the SoCal Track and Field Trials, which took place on Saturday.

Leading the way for the Corsairs was Toya Johnson who won his qualifying heat in the 400-meters. Johnson won his heat despite feeling unexpectedly drowsy, which was due to a Benadryl he had taken to combat an allergic reaction he had to his roommates cat.

The 94 degree heat was enough to make anybody drowsy, but Toya later felt more awake, and anchored the 4x400 meter relay team to another qualifying run.

"I felt out of it, but I felt relaxed. Maybe next time I'll sleep in the gym before Saturday's final," said Johnson. "I couldn't wait to run against the qualifiers in the other two heats."

Also qualifying for the finals was long distance ace Terrence Luevano, who will compete in the 1500-meters. But despite qualifying for the 1500-meters, the 800-meters remained just out of reach.

"I'm satisfied with my race. I ran close to my personal best and qualified, but I was tired after the race due to the heat, and didn't have much left for the 800 [meters]." said Luevano.

Breaking five minutes for the first time in the 1500-meters was Ashley Bootesaz. Not only did Bootesaz post a personal best, but she also qualified for the 1500-meter final, which was most important.

"I was happy with that race," said Boosteaz. "I'm running 20 seconds faster in the 1500 [meters] this year compared to last year."

Rounding out the Corsairs roster for next Saturday's final is Jamelah Grate. Grate not only qualified for the women's 400-meters with a personal best, but also ran a qualifying leg in the 4x100 meter relay.

Drew Brown failed to qualify for his chosen event, the 400-meters, but he did qualify for the 4x400 relay. Unfortunately, Brown decided to run the 400-meters instead of the 800-meters, even though his first ever 800-meter time at the Santa Barbara Relays six weeks ago was 1:55 flat. The fastest qualifying time in the four heats of the 800-meters last Saturday was 1:55.87.

Next Saturday's finals at Riverside Community College will determine which Corsairs will compete in the CCCAA Track and Field Championships May 16-17 at Mt. San Antonio College.

Sports Editor Trev Angone contributed to this article.