Men’s cross country keeps up the pace

Freshman runner Ulysses Orozco (above) gave Saddleback its best finish at the OEC Finals in 17 years when he finished second in the men's four mile run. (Photo courtesy of Saddleback Sports Information)

Sophomore Ulysses Orozco (above) led the pack, running his way to another victory. Saddleback took second place at the OEC Championships. (Photo courtesy of Saddleback Sports Information)

The Saddleback College Gauchos cross country star, Ulysses Orozco captured a first place finish for the second straight week and third time overall this season at the Orange Empire Conference Finals at William R. Mason Regional Park on Friday, Oct. 30.

Orozco got off to a blazing start, running right behind the race leaders for the majority of the race before making his move in the final mile and taking over first place for good. Orozco bested his record setting time of a week ago at the Mt. San Antonio College Cross Country Invitational by almost a full second, finishing the four mile course in a jaw dropping 20:34.56.

Orozco crossed the finish line with ease over second place finisher, Riverside City College freshman Joshua Silva, by more than 13 seconds. Orozco attributes his success to his teammates and coaches while keeping a consistent weekly physical routine and staying mentally even keeled.

“Every week I have the same preparation and I just visualize the race in front of me,” said Orozco. “Visualization is key for me.”

Visualization definitely helped Orozco during the race as he seemed determined and motivated as it looked as if he knew he was going to win the race before it started.

During warm ups, as they cheered on the women’s cross country team, the men stayed loose by taking a light jog around the park and were cracking jokes during their stretching exercises. There seemed to be great chemistry between the team and zero sign of nerves from the guys and it showed from the start of the race.

Orozco wasn’t the only highlight for the Gauchos as they had five top twenty finishes on Friday. Freshman runner Wyndal Skarsten finished in 11th place with an impressive time of 21:21.35. Sophomore Miles Brubacher finished 16th at 21:41.29 and sophomore Brian Aguirre finished in 17th right behind Brubacher at 21:45.43. Mark Delgado finished in 20th, clocking in at 21:51.59, capping off a great day for Saddleback.

The impressive day gave the Gauchos enough to edge Santa Ana College and Orange Coast College, who finished in third and fourth place respectively. RCC took first place overall with seven top 20 finishes, including five top ten finishes on the day.

This Gauchos squad seems to be improving with every passing week. With only two meets left, the Gauchos hope to carry their momentum into the Southern California Finals on Friday, Nov. 6 in Mission Bay and build on what looks to be a very successful season for this Gauchos team.