Cross-Country Tops the Mountain

Mt. SAC cross-country team shows out in their first season back

The Mounties performing their pre-race ritual. Daniel Abdala (center) lead the chant for Mt. SAC.

Mt. SAC’s cross-country team had waited for their season since fall 2019. The team had finished third in the state before the pandemic put a roadblock in their plans to contend at another championship. Once the team heard that sports would be back for the fall 2021 season, the Mounties were ready to leave their opponents in the dust.

This year’s team was made up of reclassified freshmen from the pandemic and incoming freshmen, including standouts Jesus Alvarado and Elijah Ocegueda. The team was also anchored by some returning faces, like Daniel Abdala, who returned for his last year of community college athletic eligibility.

The Mounties had the talent and the drive, all they needed was the season to start.

The first chance to test themselves was their first meet at the Cal State Fullerton Classic. For the Mounties, this was their first chance to see their competition in over a year but they struggled most of the race.

“It was a wake up call,” Abdala said, “We knew coming in that we had some work to do, but we kept our heads up.”

The Mountie faithful finished in seventh, a rough start for their first season back.

However, this was just the first race of the season for the Mounties. They looked to bounce back on the next race in the Oxnard Invite, which they dominated. The Mounties finished 1-2-3-5-6 places to take the overall win at the race and their first win of the season.

September was a tough month for the Mounties. They struggled at the UC Riverside meet and took eighth overall against some tough competition. The Mounties tried to bounce back once more at the Golden West invitational and finished sixth overall.

The runners take off as they tackle the confusing Golden West Invitational course. (Diego Renteria)

The Mounties took small steps to get back to the top.

The route back was quick. The Mounties next meet was at the San Diego Mesa Invitational. They finally took their spot back at the top. Their highest finisher was Abdala, who took second place, followed by Zackary Alexander and Alvarado who also finished in the top 10. These allowed the Mounties to take the overall win.

In October, the Mounties closed out the regular season by placing second at their tough home meet before winning the South Coast Conference Championship title at Compton College.

Runners Jesus Alvarado (front) and Zackary Alexander (behind) lead the pack at the Mt. SAC invitational on Oct. 15. (Diego Renteria)

The Mounties then took on stiff competition in the playoffs.

The Mounties’ first postseason challenge was the SoCal Regional Championship. This meet had the Mounties going up against all the best Southern California colleges, and the Mounties took second overall as a result. Again, Abdala displayed his talent by taking the overall win, and became the anchor for the rest of the Mountie runners.

Mounties and other runners attacking the hills at the SCC Championships on Oct. 29. (Diego Renteria)

Second place was good enough to qualify the team for the state championship race.

The final challenge – the CCCAA State Championships, the Mounties were ready. They headed north to Fresno, CA to face their penultimate challenge.

“We were nervous, but we looked at it as another race,” Abdala said.

In this race, everyone put on a valiant effort. Abdala finished first overall and took the overall individual victory. He was followed by Alvarado in third and Alexander in 12. This cemented the Mounties into second place and they would stay there.

Mt. SAC cross-country would finish the season off in second. Yet, the season was a victory for the Mounties as they improved in every race they competed in and put their heart out on the course.