Saddleback track and field hurdles to victory in first meet of season

victorious (Austin Messick)

Austin Messick

In their season opener Friday, Saddleback College’s men’s and women’s track and field teams both earned victories over Fullerton College. The men’s team won 106-48 and the women’s team won 88-53.

“Today’s a good checkpoint to find out where we are,” said Coach Mark Blethen, “and we’re in a good place right now.”

The men’s 110-meter hurdles was an exciting event with the top five runners sprinting side by side from the blocks. Saddleback’s Vincent Fusco was able to gain a slight lead over the field in the final 10 meters to win with a time of 15.73.

In a thrilling 800-meter race, Edgar Vazquez used his strategy to slip past two Fullerton runners to gain victory. Vasquez trailed closely behind Fullerton’s Danny Gonzalez and Donald Quigley through 550 meters, and passed both runners after he turned on the after-burners with 220 meters to go. Vasquez won with a time of 1 minute, 59.66 seconds, edging out Gonzalez by only .32 seconds.

“I was hurting, I’ve never done an 800, this was my first 800,” Vazquez said. “I felt completely exhausted, but you know you just got to show a lot of heart and go right through it, that’s exactly what I did.”

Michelle Wicker put forth a similar performance when she fought off Fullerton’s Kellie Desanti in the 400-meter hurdles. Wicker led from the start, but ran stride for stride with Desanti in the final 100 meters, and was able to pull ahead just before the finish line to win with a time of 1:10.53.

“I felt her with the last like 150 meters right there, and I was just like ‘Oh gosh I have to start spriting now!'” Wicker said..

Wicker also won the 100 hurdles with a time of 15.50. Tia McFarlane was victorious in the women’s 100 and 200-meter dash, posting times of 12.73 in the 100, and 27.35 in the 200. Tanner Terry continued Saddleback’s winning ways when he took first place in the men’s 200 and 400, posting times of 22.08 and 50.0.

The meet came to a close after Saddleback’s men’s 4×400 meter relay team won definitively, posting a time of 3:28.00 over Fullerton’s 3:39.19. Inexperience did not hinder the Gauchos performance, with athletes taking first place in 25 of the meets 36 events.

Both teams are young with 28 freshman on their combined roster, and are returning only 13 sophomores between them.

“We have a lot of freshman, first chance to be in a college meet like this,” Blethen said. “It’s a good first meet, Fullerton’s got a good program, they’ve always been tough for us to beat, and I think we were pretty lucky to get two wins today.”